WhilE art schools echo to the sounds of last-minute panic as final-year students put the finishing touches to their degree show installations, Edinburgh University’s Talbot Rice Gallery mounts its own take on the student show, rigorously curated from the current talent enrolled at the university’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

“We took various approaches to finding the final students to work with,” says assistant curator James Clegg, speaking to me by phone as the Trading Zone exhibition is installed around him. There are 21 students in this newly reformatted show, representing 16 projects. It is a neatly curated segue from the vast and varied display of work on show at Edinburgh College of Art up the road.

“We’re aware of the correspondence between the two exhibitions and the overlap in time,” says Clegg. “But I think the difference is that ours is about experimentation and is free from some of the constraints that come with presenting work for assessment. And we’ve worked very hard to mentor the students and make sure there is the budget there for them to present work that is very ambitious.

“We reached out across the whole of Edinburgh College of Art to bring together different disciplines. We asked members of staff which students were making interesting work, we had one-to-one meetings with students, we went round open studios, we put out an open call across the college. I think in all we engaged with the work of over 300 students, incorporating as many fields as we could, from archaeology and business to music and architecture. We started to develop a much better knowledge of individual practices and works and whittled it down to a shortlist of students we felt we could work with. What really piqued our interest, obviously, was when students presented us with something we’d never seen before.”

The students themselves range from a second-year undergraduate to Masters and PhD students – there are quite a few of the latter as they are so well-established in their practice and ideas, a key part of Talbot Rice’s focus. The exhibition itself revolves around “approaches to the contemporary world” that coalesce in three key areas: data, behaviour and ecology.

There are some fascinating prospects. Doug McCausland, an MSc student in digital composition and performance, will exhibit Glossolalia, a sound installation derived from his discovery of far-right and conservative broadcasting in his native United States, filled with “misogynistic speech, denigration of basic human rights, anti-immigrant standards, racial hate, arguments in favour of nuclear strikes on the Middle East, the comfort of mutually assured destruction and a holy man proclaiming the president-elect as the true God-given beacon of hope to lead mankind into the rapturous end-times”. His installation will echo around the space, accompanied at times by live performance.

There is work that is extracted from the digital world, taken from real-world statistics, passed through the digital realm and remodelled as exhibit. Clegg points to architecture and fine art PhD students Asad Khan and Eleni-Ira Panourgia who have used LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scans to create displaced animations of the post-catastrophic landscape in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Panourgia’s cello soundscape animates the digital images.

Ella Yolande, a third-year intermedia student, will explore origins and creation myths in a video installation that pits oil and its trappings against the slimy substances of the origins and stuff of life. Neslihan Tepehan (product design, year three) creates tactile, abstracted objects “to interrupt, disturb or break established habits”, which invite exploration, with the idea of building up a series of movements “that begin to form part of daily life”.

Fine art and product design students Jack Handscombe and Joe Revans mix mycelium fungi with a Gothic Revival pinnacle to create a sculpture that will grow oyster mushrooms over its surface as the weeks go by in what might seem an unlikely combination of an interest in Gothic Revival architecture and the bio-computing possibilities of slime mould.

Elsewhere, Allie Turner, Finn Ickler and Luis De Sousa (design informatics MA/MSc) interpret Twitter users’ influences on the Brexit referendum through abstracted social media feeds.

Trading Zone, Talbot Rice Gallery, Old College Quad, South Bridge, Edinburgh, 0131 650 2210, www.ed.ac.uk/talbot-rice, until June 23, Tues-Fri, 10am-5pm; Sat 12pm-5pm

Critics Choice

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design is the first of the art colleges to open its doors to the public for the annual degree show, a much-anticipated collection of over 300 students graduating in a variety of disciplines. The show has been running for the past week in the labyrinthine buildings of the art college – anyone who doesn’t find themselves mildly geographically disorientated (not to say aesthetically, of course) at least once on the rounds will clearly have come provisioned with a compass and a ball of string - so this is your last chance to catch Dundee’s latest crop of graduates before they are launched out into the “real” world.

There are graduates showing here in all disciplines, from Design to Architecture, Fine Art and Textiles, Illustration, Animation and Jewellery, amongst many other specialisms. A random cross-section of talented folk highlighted by the college includes Minrui Jiao, a product design graduate who has designed a wooden ISOFIX car seat for dogs that allows them to move whilst being relatively restrained. Art and Philosophy graduate, Keira Marshall, who displays two uniforms made with the help of her father, a master tailor, remembering the life of her grandfather Jack, a Gordon Highlander shot by an IRA sniper in Belfast during the Troubles.

And then Time-based Art and Digital Film student Janine Getty, who has created a light installation honouring the memory of her mother, who died aged 45 when Getty was just 16. Its aesthetics rooted in the cyanotype, vibrant in blues and whites, the work is “the culmination of a 13-year journey, one which celebrates the light that can be found in the darkest of moments and the abundance of life often left in the wake of loss.”

Degree Show 2018: Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, 13 Perth Road, Dundee, 01382 388 828, www.dundee.ac.uk/djcad Until 27 May, Daily 10am – 6pm

Don't miss

Visual Arts Scotland presents an exhibition at Edinburgh’s Summerhall tracking the emerging careers of some the recent art school graduates who have previously been chosen for the VAS annual Graduate Showcase at the Royal Scottish Academy on the Mound, alongside artists new to the organisation. Artists include Jean Oberlander, who makes wild yet wearable knits, and William Braithwaite, who makes both concrete and inflatable sculpture.

Satellite: VAS @ Summerhall, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh, 0131 560 1581, www.visualartsscotland.org Until 13 July, Daily 11am – 6pm