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Designing for Liberation

As institutions or individuals, design bodies have been weaponized for war, colonization, racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of oppression. This talk reports on the Designing for Liberation research program that, since 2010, engages diverse design bodies with the fight against all forms of oppression. This program unleashes designing potentials that have been prevented or denied in specific communities and social groups through participatory design, technology appropriation, self-management, critical pedagogy, theater of the oppressed and, other Marxist-inspired approaches.

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Designing for Liberation

  1. 1. Designing for Liberation Frederick van Amstel @fredvanamstel Service Design and Experience Design DADIN - UTFPR
  2. 2. This card deck was one of the first graphic design products printed in Brazil, after the Portuguese King allowed the import of ONE printing press in 1808.
  3. 3. The republican, independent, Brazilian government still kept importing design from abroad. Companies followed. Ulm School of Design, Germany (1952-1968) ESDI, Brazil (1963-actual)
  4. 4. Colonization stablished that European design is good design. Design otherwise is bad design or not even design.
  5. 5. Is this Brazilian design or bad design?
  6. 6. These designs spread through sick information infrastructures that profit from misinformation (Pelanda & Van Amstel, 2021).
  7. 7. Good design... for whom? Bad design... for whom?
  8. 8. The Egg Chair designed for the Radisson SAS Hotel (Arne Jacobsen, 1959) and for Bolsonaro's presidential office.
  9. 9. Designing for privilege is also designing for oppression!
  10. 10. Can we design for liberation?
  11. 11. First, we must shift our attention from media to mediations, from interface to interactions (Van Amstel, 2008). Jesus Martín-Barbero
  12. 12. Faber-Ludens Institute for Interaction Design (2007-2014) shifted the attention from interface to interaction.
  13. 13. Faber-Ludens was part of the Digital Culture movement, championed by Min. of Culture Gilberto Gil (Van Amstel, 2012)
  14. 14. The Designing for Liberation research program started in Faber-Ludens around 2010, when we decided to open the black box of design to the general public.
  15. 15. Faber-Ludens published a manifesto book in 2012 inspired by Digital Culture, Participatory Design, and Free Software.
  16. 16. We could not do Design Livre with Google apps, so we developed our own collaborative platform.
  17. 17. Corais Platform, a digital infrastructure for collaborative projects of any kind, built with free software (2011-actual).
  18. 18. Social movements, indigenous communities, and popular educators took over Corais, developing more than 700 projects.
  19. 19. Government became interested in Corais and we were invited to design a social participation app (Van Amstel & Gonzatto, 2016).
  20. 20. My students reimagined Roussef's impeachment in a speculative design mockumentary (Van Amstel & Gonzatto, in press).
  21. 21. We experimented extending speculative design with Theater of the Oppressed (Van Amstel & Gonzatto, 2020).
  22. 22. Scrotien (2019) is a speculative design product that draws attention to inequalities in body care and body presentation.
  23. 23. The political body needs to be awakened to deal with oppression and liberation (Angelon & Van Amstel, 2020).
  24. 24. My students wrote a manifesto on dissent as a tactics to decolonize the design body (Angelon & Van Amstel, in press)
  25. 25. In times of intense oppression, women of different origins must coalesce to fight sexism (Eleutério & Van Amstel, 2020).
  26. 26. Design & Oppression Network: coalescing against all forms of oppression (2020-actual).
  27. 27. Theater Forum: Design and Precarious Work in Digital Platforms (2020) addressing work exploitation.
  28. 28. Theater Forum: The Invasion of the Gringo Design Thinker (2021) addressing colonialism.
  29. 29. The fight against oppression must be the fight against all forms of oppression, otherwise one oppression replaces the other.
  30. 30. Violence is the visible outcome of less visible, intersecting, structural, oppression relations (@socialclub406, 2020).
  31. 31. What can design do for the oppressed? What can the oppressed do with design?
  32. 32. Historically privileged social groups Historically underprivileged social groups Design practice that reproduces oppression and ignores liberation Design epistemologies of the North Design methodologies of the North Design practice that fights oppression and seeks liberation Design epistemologies of the South Design methodologies of the South Decolonization Hybridization Aesthetic interactions
  33. 33. References Pelanda, M. F. L., & van Amstel, F. M. C. (2021). A fumaça digital: inversão infraestrutural do COVID-19 pela perspectiva Yanomami (The digital smoke: Infrastructural inversion of COVID-19 from the Yanomami perspective). International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace, 8(1), 69-85. Van Amstel, F. M. (2008). Das interfaces às interações: design participativo do portal Thesis (Master in Technology). Federal University of Technology Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil. Amstel, Frederick M.C. van; Vassão, Caio A.; Ferraz, Gonçalo B. 2012. Design Livre: Cannibalistic Interaction Design. In: Innovation in Design Education: Proceedings of the Third International Forum of Design as a Process, Turin, Italy. Van Amstel, F. M., & Gonzatto, R. F. (2016). Design Livre: designing locally, cannibalizing globally. XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, 22(4), 46-50. Van Amstel, Frederick M.C and Gonzatto, Rodrigo Freese. (in press) Existential time and historicity interaction design. Human-Computer Interaction. Angelon, Rafaela; Van Amstel, Frederick M.C. (in press) Monster aesthetics in a decolonizing design experiment. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education. Angelon, Rafaela; Van Amstel, Frederick M.C. (2020). The political body as a fulcrum for radical imagination in metadesign. In: Proceedings of the III Design Culture Symposium, Unisinos, Porto Alegre, Brasil. Van Amstel, Frederick M.C and Gonzatto, Rodrigo Freese. (2020) The Anthropophagic Studio: Towards a Critical Pedagogy for Interaction Design. Digital Creativity, 31(4), p. 259-283. Eleutério, Rafaella P. and Van Amstel, Frederick M.C. Matters of Care in Designing a Feminist Coalition. (2020). In: Proceedings of the 16th Participatory Design Conference. Manizales, Colombia.
  34. 34. Thank you! Frederick van Amstel @fredvanamstel Service Design and Experience Design DADIN - UTFPR