Local beneficiary of the Malta Arts Scholarship Matthew Urpani has conducted research in a London university focusing on various aspects of our relationship with technology.

Urpani conducted research while reading for a Master of Arts degree in Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (UAL). His final project, An Array of Constraints, is a digital interactive installation which, through a small series of simple and playful interfaces, invites the user to think about the form of the technologies they engage with.

The installation was included in the 2022 UAL Graduate Show and is set to be included in an exhibition at the Lethaby Gallery, London, forming part of this year’s edition of the annual London Design Festival.

“What happens when our tools’ constraints are radically reconsidered? What kinds of limitations and freedoms do these changes bring?” asks Urpani.

“The modern world is governed by digital technology ­– everything from our smart watches, Instagram feeds and music playlists to transport schedules, utility bills and police surveillance. And yet, the internet is only a little over 30 years old.”

It is more important than ever to examine what digitisation is doing in our lives

Urpani notes that, within only a few decades, the contexts and networks in which society operates have been radically transformed in ways we cannot begin to comprehend nor keep pace with.

He says that while technology has, through iteration upon iteration, evolved into distinct forms, networks and structures, continuing to develop one set structure for the sake of efficiency, it pigeon-holes us into just one way of thinking about how and why to approach a digital system, often excluding myriad other unexplored possibilities.

“As the rate at which technology advances ever increases, it is more important than ever to examine what digitisation is doing in our lives, who is benefitting from it, and who is being left behind,” he says.

“Design is an appropriate lens through which to maintain such a critical stance, as it is both innately involved in this continuous advancement while also being well suited to imagining other speculative alternatives to the dominant structure.”

Matthew Urpani is a recipient of Arts Scholarship, financed by the Government of Malta. See more about 'An Array of Constraints' here

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