Linnaeus University: Design + Change

Working with questions of social design, norm-criticality and site-specificity, masters students in the Design+Change program at Linnaeus University in Sweden developed a series of projects and interventions which respond to matters of precarity, repair, care, crafts, community-building and technology, as laid out in the thematical framework of ‘Patterns in Resistance’. Through pedagogical staging, new ways of redirecting and remaking social relations via design interventions were explored. 

Operating within the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and the rapidly shifting social environments herein, these social interventions pliantly took place in a diverse range of spaces; an urban farm, a community centre, a locked-down residential neighbourhood, and various online platforms all became sites for staging community building and creative-critical learning processes around norms. 

Remnants, traces, documentations, proposals and explanatory presentations of these variegated exploratory methods and their outcomes are digitally manifested at this year’s online edition of ALT_CPH in the following:

Miranda Moss

The_future_was_yesterday.org

the_future_was_yesterday.org is a website supplement for a series of online extra-curricular workshops for teenagers on “sustainable technology” developed by South African electronic artist and social designer Miranda Moss. The interactive, animated site hosts a series of videos as well as further links to online content which introduce (re)thinking about technological development growing in equilibrial tandem with nature, as opposed to against, and at the cost of nature. The pedagogical approach exists through a decolonial feminist lens, gently problematising what counts as technology, for whom mainstream technological development benefits, and whom it exploits.

The website accompanies and will form the philosophical backbone for a series of hands-on technical introductions to rising fields such as biomimicry, renewable energy, ecomaterials, and biotechnology, but refuses to think about sustainability and technology in isolation and without confronting the violence and exploitation inflicted on many human and non-human bodies in mainstream technological creation, use, and disposal, while affording a minority group the bulk of the power and privileges associated with them.

Do you gif a f*ck?

In the project Do you .gif a f*ck? the design duo Camilla Guzmán and Emma Parsmo, has used the format of the gif to find a digital equivalent to the analogue protest sign. In collaboration with activist feminist associations, Kvinnefronten and Reklamera, they have designed gif’s for the cause of advocating women’s rights.

What started as a rage against Poland’s conservative government trying to push through a legislation that would violate human rights under the cover of Covid-19 while people are in lock down, was eventually evolved into a project concerning public protest as point of departure.

For a long time, the most dominant definition of the political has been any action that is being performed in public, meaning that a protest is only valid if it is taken to the streets. A notion that limits and excludes bodies cannot be physically present, Covid- related or not.

The design duo has looked upon how this definition can be re-interpreted in an era where social media has generated an online infrastructure that is reshaping societies and the perception of the public. Nowadays you can be public in the private which have opened up for the possibility to participate in political actions online.

Every generation has to construct and reconstruct their expression of political language. It is done with the materials and tools that are available at the given moment, protest signs as we know them have been made out of cardboard, paper and textile. The materials in themselves are not political until you transform them into a sign, the same goes for the visual tools and materials of the digital space.  The design duo has created what they call a feminist digital craftmanship, by looking at the format of the gif and how it could resemble the analogue protest sign and with its looped motion mimic the repetitive slogans.

The gif’s can communicate a political message in a pedagogical way and through social media channels spread and reach beyond the context of feminist community when the viewer gif a f*ck and press share. So, when you’re sitting with your coffee in hand scrolling through stories of funny cats and sad tuna salads, you’re suddenly facing a striking Smash the Patriarchy gif.

Leah Ireland

Stefan Johanson

Vikgubbe; A Public Art Intervention

Växjö, May, 2020

 

Vikgubbe proposes to enroll the theme and idea of the exquisite corpse drawing game in public collaborative art interventions in Araby, a neighborhood in the Swedish town Växjö. Local community members are invited to participate in the art making process of public murals. The exquisite corpse methodology of painting together allows for a fun spontaneous way to create art collectively while adhering to social distance guidelines during COVID-19.

 

Araby Park arena strives for Integration between the Immigrants and Asylum seekers that make up most of the nearby community and Surrounding neighborhoods and Swedes from Växjö as a whole.


Stefan Johanson has  been working with the community center, Araby Park Arena, and found the Covid-19 limitations challenging. He has hosted painting workshops there, and continues to plan more workshops in the future.


Collaborative mural painting promotes art as a medium for social change and expression. It allows a space for participants to express an extra-linguistic code through words or images. These codes differ across cultures.


The advent of Social distancing creates a new issue of community members not being able to interact with each other in person or attend painting workshops in person indoors that we normally have. 


Allowing a safe space for collaboration gives an opportunity for people to arrange or collage diverse cultural codes together. This Highlights social integration by juxtaposing images, while seeing how much they are alike.


Due to the new restrictions painting murals together has been made impossible. Johanson was looking for a solution. How can you paint collectively while adhering to social distancing?


His solution for this was to design a platform that will allow for collaborative public mural painting. (Involving the Växjö community as a whole while practicing responsible social distancing In public space with community participation) by using a form of exquisite corpse style painting.


Exquisite corpse is a  drawing game, usually played with a folded piece of paper that is passed along between the players. The first person paints a head, folds the paper so only the ending points of the neck are visible and passes it on. The next player paints the body and so on until the complete figure is revealed at the end.


To use the exquisite corpse method for mural painting Johanson created three spaces separated by walls obstructing the view of the next person’s artwork allowing the user to only see a portion of the others artwork, just enough to know where it is to connect it or work with or around it. When the participants step back away from the painting they can see the creation as a whole.


Johanson was inspired to choose this game style of painting because it is fun and promotes spontaneous collaboration. It can be easily interpreted without too much verbal explanation or rules.

 

According to him public space and public art lack interactive pieces and he thinks this is a good starting point into something that can be applied differently, adapted quickly and open up to more creative interpretations.