Rafael Fajardo

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Posts tagged with "critical practice"

Out of the Greasy Gutter: The Détournement

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The détournement came to prominence during the time of the Situationists and has enjoyed a recent revival through the culture jamming movement:

The détournement is a key weapon in the meme war promoted by the culture jammers of today. It’s part mimicry, part parody, part hijacking and…

Oct 6
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Arizona Backpack

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Arizona Backpack

I’ve always responded to other work with my work— that’s where I fit more into the artist category,” Mr. Wong told Azure, a design magazine, in 2003. “I find it really difficult if I’m asked to, say, design a chair. If a manufacturer approached me with that sort of request, I’d be in big trouble.

- The Life of Tobias Wong, Designer - NYTimes.com

Design For the First World » About

Dx1W began as a sar­cas­tic com­ment. The idea came to me in a class in which I was asked to cre­ate an object on “social design”. The assign­ment was one week long and there was no spe­cific con­text. Why would you assume that you can design some­thing to solve a prob­lem for the so called Third World –a world you don’t know– in a week? Well, because Bono has told us so. Didn’t we all just change the world by going to the Live 8 con­certs? Hav­ing this assign­ment in class (in NYU) imme­di­ately fired me up and raised my dis­com­fort lev­els with the attempts from First World agents to solve Third World Prob­lems to nuclear fusion tem­per­a­tures. I decided to do some­thing about it and this is how this com­pe­ti­tion was born.

To set things straight I am not ques­tion­ing the need for aid or the good inten­tions. What really dis­turbs me are the pater­nal­is­tic and mis­in­formed approaches that end up as a waste of resources and cause more harm than good in the long run. This approach to aid has been cri­tiqued before, there’s even a term for this kind of design in acad­e­mia: para­chute design or remote design. What hap­pens when some­one does a para­chute design is that the well and nicely designed objects aimed to “improve” aspects of a com­mu­ni­ties are over­look­ing the real prob­lems and the con­text of that com­mu­nity, and hence, if lucky, they end up as part of the fur­ni­ture or as chil­dren toys (if they are durable). As a side effect the designer is mocked in that com­mu­nity for years to come and will be dubbed “El gringo” from then on, pass­ing that name on to any other white guy that set foot in that vil­lage. Oh we’re such a bunch of smart asses in the devel­op­ing world.

There are of course (and gladly) plenty of suc­cess­ful attempts to help the devel­op­ing world. So why am I focus­ing on the bad? Because there’s more of the Bono and Bob Gel­dorf and Brangelina type of aid out there than of the use­ful ones. Yes, its great to have celebri­ties involved to raise aware­ness but where does all that money go? I don’t see much change here, instead I see how the devel­op­ing goals (you know, the “make poverty his­tory”, have clean water, basic edu­ca­tion) keep being pushed fur­ther into the future.

But there’s some­thing else. Design for the First World shouldn’t be funny. The phrase “Third World minds design­ing for First World Prob­lems” pro­vokes smiles in many includ­ing myself. But why is it funny? Why do we assume that Third World minds shouldn’t be involved in the prob­lems of the First World? In all hon­esty and bold­ness I think we (the Third World) have grown accus­tomed to the top help­ing the bot­tom and because of that we’ve grown lazy. We don’t even think things can be both ways. We can help them! I believe there is a need to re-educate our­selves as devel­op­ing coun­tries and gain agency. Let’s clean the mess in our rooms after we play; our rooms being the whole world.

Fur­ther­more, the prob­lems the First World is hav­ing are and should be our con­cern as well, after all that is where we are head­ing. We’ve cre­ated a cul­ture that relies on aid and we (and them) often dis­card our respon­si­bil­ity in improv­ing our present con­di­tions and shap­ing a bet­ter future. True, there’s a lot on our plate (prob­lems, that is), but there are enough inspir­ing indi­vid­u­als in our com­mu­ni­ties that have stood up and made a dif­fer­ence. It’s time to fol­low their exam­ple and wake up (per­haps in reverse order). Not only are we capa­ble of pro­vid­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to cre­ate a bet­ter and more sus­tain­able soci­ety in both the devel­oped and the devel­op­ing worlds, it is our respon­si­bil­ity as inhab­i­tants of this planet.

Please get in touch if you wanna dis­cuss any­thing regard­ing the com­pe­ti­tion or this topics.

Apr 5

Being the bad guys As Molleindustria’s McDonalds’ video game, Oiligarchy places the player in the shoes of the “bad guys” in order to articulate the critique. Our belief is that power structures can be understood more clearly if represented from a privileged position. The player tends to perform actions with both positive outcomes (profits, advancement in the game) and social or environmental costs (a.k.a. negative externalities) dealing with responsibilities in a system that does not really punish unethical choices. The unethical gameplay is designed to reflect the free market system, which is ultimately, the object of the critique.
Moreover, a mirrored point of view can avoid the trap of the “simulated activism”, a cathartic illusion of empowerment and normative “do the right thing” enunciates. Games do not work as Skinnerian conditioning devices: games rewarding (virtual) social change do not produce activists for the same reasons games rewarding (virtual) violence do not produce violent players. As a result of taking a look at the players’ feedback, it is apparent that pushing the people to explore the dark side, especially if done with abundant irony, does not undermine the overarching game objectives.

- Oiligarchy Postmortem | Molleindustria