CTVR & The Eames

Communicating Communications

Inspired by… A Communications Primer (1953) by Ray & Charles Eames

 Why this film?

A Communications Primer, view film here.

CTVR is a telecommunications centre that focuses on the kinds of technologies that will be part of the optical and wireless networks of the future.  How we articulate what we do has an impact on whether the wider world understands our research but crucially also has an impact on how we ourselves understand and carry out that research. It has an impact on the insights that we might gain and the directions we might follow. It has an impact on how we might collaborate across different disciplines.

The film, A Communication’s Primer was a very interesting find for us. It appears to grasp fundamental and key concepts relevant to the telecommunications world and indeed communications in general. It has an ability to articulate these concepts in an accessible way while at the same time capturing subtle nuances and complex ideas in communications theory. It highlights and uses the interdisciplinary nature of the field. It uses information overload while at the same keeping it simple. It is so very precise while allowing enough room for wide interpretation. It is so 1950s and yet modern advances in communications can be mapped to the film directly.

350px-EameslounchWe have a fascination about how the Eames gained the insights they did. The film was made shortly after Claude Shannon wrote his very famous paper on Information Theory in 1948 and in fact uses some of the diagrams from that paper. Shannon provided material and direction for the film as did Warren Weaver, Norbert Wiener and John Von Neumann among others. The Eames engaged with the very latest and most complex ideas of their times. Their visual methods and modes of practice appeared to be able to deal with the complexity and reveal key concepts.

The broad educational approaches of the Eames are also enlightening. In fact A Communications Primer followed on from some work the Eames did known as ‘Art X’ or ‘A Rough Sketch for a Sample Lesson for a Hypothetical Course’. Elements of a Communications Primer were included in the Sample Lesson. The Eames designed and presented this Sample Lesson in UCLA in 1953.  The experimental multimedia lecture used graphics, film segments, slides, music and even synthetic smells. Information overload, the breaking of barriers between fields of learning, the increased communication between people and things are all part of their approach and worthy of re-examination.

We are also interested in the potential of trans-disciplinary advances that could be made through thinking through the Eames approaches. In fact Charles Eames sent a letter to Ian McCallum (editor of the British journal Architecture Review) along with a copy of the film, proposing the application of communication theory to architecture.

The event tonight is the first event in a series of events that stem from this film.  We plan to build on this event by running practical learning workshops based on ideas that flow from the film, the Eames artistic and educational practices, concepts in networking or information theory and other completely diverse practices that open the way for understanding and revealing complex disciplines and ideas. We want these workshops to be spaces for ‘Found Education’, as Charles Eames would have put it. Those workshops will happen in Dublin and be a jointly run by CTVR and people from the School of Architecture in UCD. They will be open to anyone who is interested. Contact Jessica.dylan.foley@gmail.com  or LEDOYLE@tcd.ie  for more information.

We intend to extend the workshops and further events to Cork & Limerick, where CTVR is also located.

Please visit www.communicatingcommunication.wordpress.com for updates.

CTVR would like to thank Retrospect vintage furniture and Wildchild Originals for generously lending Eames’ furniture for the event at the Science Gallery. Please visit www.retrospect.ie and www.wildchildoriginals.com for contact details.