Dr Sally McLaughlin is a visual communication academic with an interest in sense making processes. The aim of Sally’s research is to provide frameworks that allow visual communication design practitioners to make effective use of information about action and perception in the process of creating and evaluating designed artefacts.
Drawing on the fields of interpretative phenomenology, practice theory, pragmatism and embodied cognition, Sally’s focus is on accounts of sense making that foreground action rather than thought as our primary mode of engagement in the world. Sally is interested in the tension between modes of communication that prioritise explicit articulation and those that bypass articulation to activate behaviourial responses. Current projects include: a critique of semiotics as it has played out in visual communication design and the exposition of an alternative praxeological account of the sign; and a review of the work of Gyorgy Kepes in the light of contemporary work in radical embodied cognition; an exploration of genre pedagogy as it applies to the development of research competencies in the context of an undergraduate design degree.
Sally has published on themes including information design, metaphor, design expertise and qualitative inquiry in design. She has supervised practice led PhDs, drawing on action research, visual methods and interpretative phenomenology. She has acted as an external examiner of research degrees for a number of Australian Universities.
Can supervise: YES
Technology or art? The practice of information design occupies an ambiguous position in relation to these very different approaches to making. Heidegger's critique of the metaphysical concepts of being, spatiality and mood provides fertile ground for developing an understanding of the way in which 'information design as technology' conceals. The ethical imperative for an alternative conception of information design is explored.
McLaughlin, SM & Gwilt, ID 2009, 'Comic Sequence' in Heller, Steven & Talarico, L (eds), Design School Confidential: Extraordinary Class Projects from International Design Schools, Rockport Publishers Inc., Beverly, MA., pp. 188-191.
McLaughlin, SM 2012, 'Design expertise, practices and affordance', Proceedings - Design Research Society 2012: Bangkok, Design Research Society (UK) International Conference, Department of Industrial Design Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, pp. 1174-1189.
The work reported in this paper is based on a study that adopts a naturalistic qualitative approach to the study of design expertise. The study explores the 'designer's talk' as a site for the articulation and dissemination of design expertise. Theoretical resources adopted in the study were drawn from a model of expertise developed by Hubert Dreyfus and from a wide body of phenomenological literature that informed this model. The Dreyfus model is based on a practice oriented account of agency and perception that offers a viable alternative to the cognitivist models of design expertise. The research discussed in this paper forms part of a larger study that seeks to identify a basic unit of analysis appropriate to working with the Dreyfus model. Two related analytic constructs - 'responsiveness' and 'affordance' - have emerged as central to defining this unit of analysis. 'Affordance' is a term coined by James J. Gibson to draw attention to the first person experience of the way in which action possibilities are opened up for the agent by configurations in the environment. This paper explores the relationship between Gibson's original concept of affordance, and the way in which it might be developed in the light of the practice oriented accounts of agency and action that underpin the Dreyfus model of expertise. Issues of intersubjectivity and the practicalities of coding for individual instances of 'responsiveness' and 'affordance' are discussed with reference to data drawn from the transcripts of formal presentations delivered by graphic designers David Carson and Stefan Sagmeister.
McLaughlin, SM 2011, 'Coding for Responsiveness: on the genesis of a coding system to analyse designer's talk', Proceedings of IASDR2011: 4th World Conference on Design Research, International Association of Societies of Design Research, International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR) and Delft University of Technology, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, pp. 1-11.
This study explores the 'designer's talk' as a site for the articulation and dissemination of design expertise. The paper discusses the development of a qualitative coding system generated in the course of analysing public presentations delivered by three prominent graphic designers: David Carson, Paula Scher and Stefan Sagmeister. The coding system is informed by theoretical concepts drawn from a model of expertise developed by Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus. Central to the Dreyfus model is the assumption that expertise is not something that is represented in the mind, but in the way that the world opens up for us. Expertise is manifest in the expert's 'responsiveness' to situations. The paper explores the value of the coding system as a tool for understanding ways in which designers orient themselves in the course of developing and extending their practice.
McDermott, R, McLaughlin, SM & Rissanen, T 2010, 'Gaining perspective on one's own practice: reflections on a model for structuring practice-led research', CONNECTED 2010 International Conference on Design Education, ConnectED: International Conference on Design Education, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-6.
In this paper we discuss a model for structuring practice led research projects. We present a theoretical rationale for the model, drawing on Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus' studies of expertise, focusing on the claim that in order to develop their performance, experts must develop the capacity to grasp practice situations from new perspectives. We discuss three aspects of the application of the model: the identification of a research question; the identification of alternative frames for practice; and the use of these frames to structure the practice led enquiry. We discuss some of the advantages of the model. these include: supporting the practitioner-researcher in moving beyond their own existing 'habits' of practice; ensuring that an appropriate breadth of approaches to practice are explored; integrating the investigation of historical and contemporary precedents with the practice components of the research; and introducing a degree of objectivity in to the evaluation of the research.
McLaughlin, SM 2009, 'Disturbance, Dialogue and Metaphor: the Study of Practices and Perspectives through Design Enquiry', Experiential Knowledge SIG conferences (Design Research Society (DRS) SIG,UK) - experiential knowledge, method and methodology, Experiential Knowledge SIG conferences (Design Research Society (DRS) SIG,UK), London Metropoitan University, UK, London Metropoitan University, UK, pp. 1-13.
Practice theory (Reckwitz, 2002) provides an alternative to three approaches that currently dominate the study of culture: culturalist mentalism, textualism, intersubjectivism. Practice theory looks to background practices as the basis of our shared understanding of the world. Practices are routine forms of behaviour consisting of interconnected forms of bodily activities, mental activities, `things in use, and background understanding in the form of know-how, moods, feelings and motivations.
McLaughlin, SM 2009, 'On Being a Designer', Art.Media.Design | Writing Intersections, Art.Media.Design Writing Intersections, Faculty of Design, Swinburne University, Swinburne University, Melbourne, pp. 273-281.
McLaughlin, SM 2008, 'Dialogical encounter: argument as a source of rigour in the practice based PhD', Design Research Society (UK) International Conference - Undisciplined!, Design Research Society (UK) International Conference, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, pp. 1-14.
McLaughlin, SM 2007, 'Conventional Metaphor in Design', ConnectED: International Conference on Design Education, ConnectED: International Conference on Design Education, University of New South Wales, UNSW, pp. 1-5.
Palmer, CG, Gothe, J, Mitchell, CA, Riedy, C, Sweetapple, K, McLaughlin, SM, Hose, GC, Lowe, M, Goodall, H, Green, T, Sharma, D, Fane, SA, Brew, K & Jones, PR 2007, 'Finding integration pathways: developing a transdisciplinary (TD) approach for the Upper Nepean Catchment.', Proceedings of the 5th Australian Stream Management Conference. Australian rivers: making a difference, Australian Stream Management Conference, Charles Sturt University, Albury, NSW, Australia., pp. 306-311.
McLaughlin, SM 2006, 'The disclosive space as an object of study for practice based research in design', Working Papers in Art and Design, Volume 4, The Role of Context in Art and Design Research, Research Into Practice, University of Hertfordshire, University of Hertfordshire, UK, pp. 1-9.
McLaughlin, SM 2006, 'Valuing Insight and Judgement: a hermeneutic perspective on the development of validating contexts for practice-based research in design', Speculation and Innovation: Applying Practice Led Research in the Creative Industries, Speculation and Innovation: Applying Practice Led Research in the Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-15.
The Western philosophical tradition has overlooked those forms of truth that are closest to us assertions that draw attention to aspects of the referential wholes that govern our concerned engagement with the world focussing instead on assertions that point to present-at-hand entities the sort of entities that can be decontextualised from our everyday practical concerns and recontextualised in terms of world pictures (theories). Designers, as makers, engage constantly with referential wholes adopting and/or developing appropriate frames of reference as they respond to design situations, making judgements about the final form of design outcomes with reference to relevant referential wholes, and in the case of strong design, bringing to the fore implicit aspects of referential wholes and/or reconfiguring those referential wholes. Space must be made to acknowledge the truth of work that explores the potential of artefacts to deepen and broaden our understanding of ourselves, of each other and of the world. This paper is a development of a previous paper (McLaughlin, to be published) in which I argued that designers proceed by developing orientations towards a situation and that the articulation of these orientations should be considered a contribution to the knowledge of the domain. In this paper I will briefly summarise and expand on that argument by considering issues associated with the validation of such contributions as research.
McLaughlin, SM 2004, 'New Knowledge in Design: a hermeneutic perspective on design activity and the production of knowledge', Design Research Society (UK) International Conference - Futureground, Design Research Society (UK) International Conference, Melbourne: Monash University, Faculty of Art & Design, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 157-157.