Mythology: Identity

The third Digital Mythologies Student Workshop was hosted by Visual Communication/Graphic Design department of Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), Dublin, Ireland‍‍

Sunday 5th March: Cultural Tour of Dublin

The Dublin workshop began with a day-long cultural tour of Dublin city centre to introduce the participants to the over-arching themes that would frame the week’s activities. This was led by Dr. Linda King, Gerard Fox and Rory Bradley of the Visual Communication Design/Graphic Design team. The tour included consideration of the links between Irish and European identities, the materialisation of Irish mythology in the fabric of the city centre and the global impact of Irish culture. The day began at the EPIC Museum in Dublin’s Docklands where the participants explored the Irish contribution to other cultures through patterns of emigration across the globe. After a short walk across the city to Trinity College, the participants took a walking tour by historian Lorcan Collins, who focused on Ireland’s revolutionary history in relation to Britain, highlighting some of Dublin’s most famous buildings and monuments in this context. These included the General Post Office (the principal site of the 1916 Easter Rising) and Dublin Castle (the seat of British power in Ireland pre-independence in 1922). The day ended in the National Museum of Ireland: Archeology to view the world-renowned collection of Early Christian artefacts including the Ardagh Chalice and Tara Brooch, which link Ireland’s history to the histories of Continental Europe.  

The first day of the visit included the tour around the Dublin.

Monday 6th March: Workshop begins at IADT

The Dublin team welcomed the workshop participants to the IADT campus, and the morning began with a talk by the workshop co-organiser Dr Linda King. Linda’s background is a graphic designer, but she is better known as a cultural historian, writer and broadcaster on Irish design and visual culture. Her talk: ‘Irish Mythologies and Visual Culture’ developed the themes introduced the previous day and contexualised these within the broad context of Irish identities, Irish design developments and patterns of immigration. Niall Sweeney – graduate of the IADT graphic design programme and honorary fellow of IADT – followed with a presentation on his career, demonstrating his vast experience across graphic design practice, including his work with various cultural institutes, Dublin dance clubs, on social advocacy projects and across a variety of media including art and film. The afternoon comprised an introduction to the project brief, the focus of which was to interrogate and interpret the core aims and values of the EU Charter as it relates to concepts of European identity and reflects on local identities. This workshop was led by co-organiser Gerard Fox with support from Rory Bradley, and the students were first divided into six groups to begin brainstorming their ideas in response to given key words representing values contained in the Charter specifically: Solidarity, Co-operation and Peace; Equality and Progress; Justice; Respect for Difference; Inclusion; and Sustainability. This introduced the methodological framework that would be used throughout the week of researching, prototyping, feedback and iteration. IADT Visual Communication/Graphic Design staff member Peter Evers was introduced to the group as the photography and videography expert for the week, as was Pamela Heaney, lecturer on the Design for Film (Costume) programme who brought a number of her students to join the workshop.  

First day of the workshop.

Tuesday 7th March: Workshop continues at IADT

Niall Sweeney opened the following day with a second presentation ‘Dancing at the Crossroads: Glamour Rooted in Despair’ which focused on Alternative Miss Ireland (AMI), the drag ‘beauty pagent’ that ran for 25 years around St Patrick’s Day. Niall was an organiser of the annual event with Rory O’Neill/Panti Bliss (also ex-IADT Graphic Design and Honorary IADT Fellow), a participant and the graphic designer of the events’ publicity material. AMI raised money for AIDs charities and awareness for LGBTQI+ rights, typically subverting well-known Irish myths, mythologies and well-known visual tropes in the process. In this presentation Niall placed particular emphasis on how communication design could be used to agitate for positive social change. Later, Sonya Hogan – IADT’s International and Erasmus Officer – and Dr. Daithi Mac Sithigh – IADT’s Head of Research – both addressed the group, welcoming the participants and providing additional context for IADT’s international activities. The student groups continued their research and the evening ended with dinner in Hartley’s, a local restaurant in Dun Laoghaire Town Centre that was once a train station, for the staff members.

Students presenting the results from the brainstroming and their moodboards.

Wednesday 8th March: Workshop continues at IADT

The workshop research continued in the morning with a particular emphasis on lens-based media and studio videography. In the afternoon Dr Tina Kinsella – Head of Department of Design and Visual Arts – gave a talk entitled ‘Repurposing Myth: Symbol and Iconography in Contemporary Art’, drawing parallels between Greek and Irish mythology in relation to women and the female body. For the remainder of the afternoon the participants continued with their research and ideation supported by IADT and the staff from the partner organisations.  

Thursday 9th March: Workshop continues at IADT

The research moved into development stage with the students’ exploring and experimenting with various media to visualise and test concepts and ideas. This comprised analogue making (image, costume, models) and a range of digital tools including experimental and staged photography, studio filming - including projections - videography (using stabilisers, gimbles and chroma key), Fab Lab laser-cutting, creative coding, digital 3D modelling, stop-motion image capture, After Effects and Premier, AI image generation, processing, P5.js, digital post-production and editing.  

Friday 10th March: Workshop continues at IADT

The projects moved into the final production phase of collation, editing and preparation for the research presentation. Students were also asked to provide a visual presentation summarising the footprint of their research, concept development and prototyping of digital media, in addition to speculating on digital dissemination strategies for their digital postcards.  

Saturday 11th March: Dissemination event at the National Museum of Ireland: Archeology

The workshop ended with a public screening of the digital postcards in the beautiful 19th century Japanese Room of the National Museum of Ireland: Archeology. This part of the Museum is located beside the Irish Parliament (The Dáil) and provided a fitting context for discussing the postcards as they interpreted EU values and prompted consideration of member countries and their relationship to each other. The rich decorative carvings and ceramic details of the Japanese Room also complimented the event as they interpret a variety of mythological creatures. Each student group addressed the gathering and showed their research development, process and outcomes through digital slide presentations and motion graphics. The level of intellectual engagement was extremely high and rich and some of the project work referenced the collections of the NMI as encountered on the first day of workshop research. The day ended with comments, observations and thanks to all, including the NMI for its generosity in hosting.

IADT Project Team

Principal Investigators: Gerard Fox and Dr Linda King

Researchers: Rory Bradley, Peter Evers, Pamela Heaney, Dr Tina Kinsella  

Expert Advisor: Niall Sweeney

Assistant Researcher: Pamela Heaney

Visiting tutors from project partner universities:

Tarja Nieminen (School of Arts, Design and Architecture/Aalto University, Finland)

Antti Hietaniemi (School of Arts, Design and Architecture/Aalto University, Finland)

Jacek Mrowczyk (Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Katowice, Poland)

Jeremiasz Rzenno (Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Katowice, Poland)

Ausra Lisauskiene (Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania)

Marius Zalneravicius (Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania)

Annelise Cerchedean (Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium)