Reading Response: The Interventionists

An arena of art and design had been around the world with us for countless years. Even now, it is hard to classify what is art and what is not art. Art and Design is everywhere and all around us. It is surrounding our life. There are multiplicities of scope of ‘art and design’. Among those varieties, there are art and design, which are highly dependent on political and cultural issues. This article, Trespassing Relevance was motivating for me because it stimulates the idea that design can act as a dais to communicate a prevailing dispatch.

The article, Trespassing Relevance by Nato Thompson shows how interventionists used art which greatly impacted both social and political issues in four steps: RTS, Nomads, Ready to wars, and the experimental university. Among these four steps, while I was reading the article, Trespassing Relevance, RTS caught my attention. RTS stands for Reclaim the Streets. It was interesting because I never thought street art is an art. To be honest, I considered it as art but highly ignored them. However, while reading the article, it altered my mind. This article convinced me in terms of the significance of the street. It taught me that the street is the space where “we” could participate legitimately and liberally. Street is the superlative space where people can share their ideas and opinions well. When we walk around New York City streets, we can experience various posters that are posted on brick walls and buildings. They range from promotional posters to political and social issue related posters. That demonstrates that these posters affect people highly through visualizing it with posters on the street.

Furthermore, I think I was too caught up in the idea of beauties and physical attractiveness. I personally thought art was more a visual than a behind concept and thoughts. But now, after reading this article, I think that not just art that looks amazing is a good art. The more important subject is an idea behind it and how to think deeper. While I was thinking about this, it reminded me of my global issues class last year when we learned about the terminologies of tactics and strategies. Shoes for instance is a design, but how we use it are also important, if we don’t use the design, then it loses the functionality and the amazingness. We need to think outside the box and consider the functionality in a deeper way. For instance, shoes can turn into a keychain. Why does keychain has to look like a keychain? Where did that prejudice thought came? We can tie keys with shoelaces, which then becomes a keychain. We need to consider some thoughts. How will the design change the social life? Or even us? How do we persuade people to use our design? In this modern society, design is not just a flat platform; it rather serves as a more functional term.

Reading Response : 10.26

The reading was very inspiring. The article started talking about the political media culture back in 80s and how it sort of transformed  to different tactics in 90s. There are so many examples of intervention especially in advertising industry. Art and design were then hard to being identified which was which, and I guess it didn’t change much when it comes to identifying art and design even nowadays. Political media has a really long history during the war period, there were so many propaganda advertising that I felt that’s when politicians see the potential of political media. But when meaning of communication design began to change when it is on different platforms,  the result would also change to.



Fog Food, San Francisco, California, 2005.
I was actually in San Francisco when this project was shown in De Young. It’s always delightful to see any kinds of connection between your own culture with one another. It’s nothing special in big cities such as New York City or San Francisco, I still found it surprising when I see all those sign boards written in Chinese ( Some doesn’t even without English at all) The takeout box of Chinese food is definitely a characteristic of Chinese culture in the U.S. ;but to be honest , I’ve never seen it before I came to the U.S. . So in a way, it’s a unique social culture in the U.S.  I thought it was ironic to see a table inside a takeout box because


Reading Response: Archive of Socially Engaged Practices from 1991-2011

Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit …

Whenever I go to the American Museum of Natural History, after marveling at the dinosaur bones and gawking at the artistry and verisimilitude of the wildlife dioramas, I’m always rather disquieted by the existence of exhibits like the Hall of African Peoples, Asian Peoples, South American Peoples, etc., etc. in which art, costumes, and cultural objects from non-Western cultures are framed as natural history, which seems deeply problematic, as the AMNH seems to be asking us to find common ground between Pacific Northwestern Native American wood carving and a stuffed antelope. It’s only Asia, Africa, Polynesia, and the indigenous peoples of the Americas whose culture is situated as natural history— there’s no Hall of European Peoples full of mannequins in suits and reproductions of busts of Julius Caesar.

Two Undiscovered Amerindians responds to this sort of museum cultural discourse, blended with the nineteenth century practice of putting “human curiosities” on display. The fact that so many passersby assumed that the obviously satirical Two Undiscovered Amerindians was a genuine exhibition proves that this sort of mentality didn’t die with P.T. Barnum, and it could be said to exist in a sanitized, respectable version in the situation of non-Western cultures as natural history.

Trespassing Relevance & Living as Form Response

Trespassing Relevance

I remember the “Trespassing Relevance” reading from Design for this Century class my 1st semester at Parsons! The refusal to reduce art to mere representation and creative disruption of everyday life, which are both aspects of interventionism, are definitely an impetus behind my thesis. Despite what some of my classmates say, that class wasn’t a complete waste of time, at least for me.

Another thing that is touched on in that reading is privatization of culture “in the form of intellectual copyright, and in the shrinkage, policing and control of public space.” Which is extremely relevant to the emergence of General Assemblies that are (re)occupying various public spaces all over the world right now. It could be viewed as an attempt by the general population to expropriate culture from the hands of economic/political elites.

Living as Form

This is a response to a project from the Archive of Socially Engaged Practices called “Anti-Bell” which was basically a happening where old church bell were smashed and melted down. That was followed by a book that described bells as being literal manifestation of social control (because they were used to call for church service and sound an alarm).

This project to me has parallels with the Russian revolution where some of the most widely know footage of it is people throwing down and smashing the bells from churches because of a (subconscious?) understanding that they symbolized authoritarian control of society. However, there was later a backlash against destruction of church property. The usual argument against it was that it was “destruction of Russian culture”, as if culture is something static.


Reading Response

The Interventionists

The article was quite inspiring in that it was promoting the idea that design can act as a platform to communicate social change. It is like you can say so much without even realizing it, even something subtle can communicate a powerful message. It seems similar to what our guest speaker last week does in using public spaces as a means to campaign, transforming empty space or something we wouldn’t normally notice as something to generate curiosity and thought. It reminds me of a video clip my thesis teacher showed about how IDEO redesigned a grocery cart. It was about thinking about functionality with only the barest of essentials, thinking outside the box of what we expect a cart to look like. The design is a basket placed on a wheel frame that comes with hooks for your shopping bags and wheels to move around. They thought about how to make a design that would also lessen or eliminate the chances of stealing. Thinking about what happens when you remove the basket, who would want to steel an empty metal frame? The design was innovative, but it has still not seen the light of day. I think this was one of the problems I had with the article. No matter how great a design is, how does it get seen? How will people get the message? Will it really generate social change? We pass by some amazing designs on a daily basis and barely notice or acknowledge their existence. It is easy to think about it in design school, but what about everyone else? How do we get the rest of the world to start thinking about social change?

Archive of Socially Engaged Practices from 1991-2011

Paul Ramirez Jonas, Key to the City, New York, New York, 2010

I like the idea that someone can be given a key or access to something that is hidden. It is like a treasure hunt to find all these places that are locked away. It makes me think of one of my favorite books as  a kid, The Secret Garden. My favorite part was when the little girl discovers this hidden world in this garden just by turning the key of the door. It is like she discovered a secret place as a means to escape from the hardships of reality. She could go there to meet friends and have the fun she longed for, discovering something new every time she went.

reading response interventionists

Well This article pretty much says it all. Its hard to think of something they didn’t cover, it’s almost a summary of all the readings we have done this semester. I think its true that you have to working within the system not around it. Often satire can get lost in the culture as commodity and we have become so used to advertisements that it can be hard to take a critical approach without seeming to have to much alignment with the consumer culture. It is almost disheartening the way it talks about gentrification, because it is definitely something that I have witnessed. It seems that artist’s move into a space because of cheap rent and soon after it becomes an area that is quick to commercialize.

Reading Response – The Interventionists

“A taco revolution. I am there.”
–Taco Bell Chihuahua Dog

I love that quote. It actually made me laugh out loud when I read it.

The “Archive of Socially Engaged Practices” is such a great project, I just wish their website didn’t make me so frustrated. It’s difficult to sort through the projects and every time I hit the back button, it took me back to google. Enough venting. The project I picked is

Mary Mattingly, Wearable Homes

I love the exploration of dystopian futures. I kept referencing “Dune” during the initial stages of thesis this semester. In the book, Frank Herbert’s characters had essentially depleted the world’s most valuable resource — water. They lived in a desert and had suits that reclaimed their own sweat and waste in order to have drinking water. The suits Mary made address those same principles. It also reminds me of how I felt when I read Cormac MacCarthy’s “The Road.” The dependance on oneself to provide a sustainable and reliable living environment in a world that has ceased to exist. Ironic how I’m such a sucker for dystopian societies, when my thesis is focusing on all that is utopian. Hrmm.

OH snap! Mary Mattingly will be at UNFOLD tonight at Parsons.
6:30pm at the Sheila Johnson design center