Pedro Reyes: People’s United Nations

Pedro Reyes: People’s United Nations (pUN)
Nov 24 2013, 12:30pm – Nov 24 2013, 6:00pm

The People’s United Nations (pUN) is an event and exhibition by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes. The event takes place November 23-24, 2013, and the exhibition runs from November 9, 2013-March 30, 2014. Pedro Reyes: The People’s United Nations (pUN) is a playful homage to the United Nations, inspired by the fact that the global body’s General Assembly met from 1946-1950 in the building that later became the Queens Museum. This experimental gathering will test Reyes’ hypothesis that, since diplomacy has not yet solved the world’s problems, conflict-resolution techniques proven in other fields should be tried instead. Over the course of two days, this singular group will use theater games, group therapy, and techniques from social science to grapple with a set of surprising and provocative proposals as well as the problems the delegates themselves bring to the table. It is precisely the lighthearted spirit of play that allows the participants to engage in subjects whose magnitude would otherwise overwhelm us.

Welcome to the People’s United Nations (pUN), an exhibition and performance by Pedro Reyes!
pUN is made up of over 150 citizen-delegates from the 195 member and observer states of the (real) United Nations. They’re with us today to use popular theater and other techniques to grapple with real-world problems from a personal, playful perspective. On Nov 23 and 24, they will be working in full view of our museum visitors. There will be two camera crews and a photographer actively documenting the sessions as well. It promises to be quite a spectacle, and we want to make sure you enjoy it while delegates focus on their work.

Modeled directly on tours of the UN itself, our tours include: up-close views of sessions themselves; insight into Reyes’ exhibition of sculpture and painting inspired by pUN’s underlying themes of dialogue and peace; and the history of the UN at the New York City Building. Tours are guided by staff in the Queens Museum Education, Public Programs, and Curatorial departments; and two young curator friends of the Queens Museum.


9:30am-6pm Free shuttle service from the 7 train Mets Willets Point stop to the Queens Museum. The trolly will leave from Roosevelt Avenue and drop off at the Grand Central Parkway side Museum entrance.
12:00 – 1:00 pm Session 1: Group Therapy / pUN Times. Turning a problem into an opportunity, and then into a headline. MAIN ATRIUM
1:00 – 2:15 pm Delegate lunch(Private). SECOND FLOOR GALLERIES
2:30 – 4:00 pm Session 2: Legislative Theater/ Pharmasphere. Augusto Boal’s participatory theater techniques address the global drug trade. MAIN ATRIUM
4:00 – 5:00 pm Wrap-up MAIN ATRIUM


10am-6pm Free shuttle service from the 7 train Mets Willets Point stop to the Queens Museum. The trolly will leave from Roosevelt Avenue and drop off at the Grand Central Parkway side Museum entrance.
12:00 – 1:00 pm Session 3: Force Field Analysis/Global Proposals. Helping and hindering forces face off. MAIN ATRIUM
1:00 – 2:15 pm 1:00 – 2:15 pm Delegate lunch. Private. SECOND FLOOR GALLERIES
2:45 – 3:45 Lecture/ Introduction to Climate Engineering SECOND FLOOR THEATER. **Streaming available.
4:15 – 5:00 pm Thank you and UN at pUN: Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, UN Undersecretary General for Communication and Public Information followed by Body Synthesis by Urban Bush Women MAIN ATRIUM
5:00 – 6:00 Meet the delegates at Cocktail Hour!

BOTH DAYS Please note: Between 12:20 – 2:30 access to the 2nd floor via the central stairway is blocked. Please access the second floor by walking through the wonderful Panorama of the City of New York.

Pedro Reyes (b. 1972, Mexico City) lives and works in Mexico. Reyes rose to international attention with projects such as Capulas (2002-10), Baby Marx (2009-present) and Palas por Pistolas (2008). Previous solo exhibitions include Labor, Mexico City (2012, 2010); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2011); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011); CCA Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu (2009); Bass Museum, Miami (2008); and San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco (2008). Group exhibitions include the Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool (2012); Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju (2012); dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel (2013); Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul (2012), CCA Wattis Museum, San Francisco (2012); STUK, Leuven (2012); Creative Time, New York (2011); Serpentine Gallery, London (2010); Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City (2010); Lyon Biennale, Lyon (2009); Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City (2009); Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama (2008); Reykjiavik Art Museum, Reykjiavik (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2007); and the 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (2003). Other exhibitions in 2013 include the Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah (March 13-May 13 ); In the Spirit of Utopia, Whitechapel Gallery, London (July 4-September 12); and the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (October 5-March 16, 2014).

The People’s United Nations (pUN) is funded by Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts (CONACULTA), Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust, BBVA Bancomer, Consulate of Mexico, New York and The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. Major production support provided by Lisson Gallery. Additional funding provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Special thanks to LABOR Gallery, Mexico City and Antojeria Popular, New York. Additional thanks to Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo; SOMA Summer, Mexico City, and Casa Vecina, Mexico City.

The People’s United Nations (pUN) is part of the Performa Consortium.

Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams

A group organized without an organizer, coordinated without a coordinator, and led without a leader. Such structures exist in decentralization where many equal parties work together following an internal system. The social system depends on the cooperation of the whole in order to work and function as intended. Decentralized systems are becoming more apparent within our social structures however they are not always recognized. Our society leans towards a centralized way of thinking and sees the whole pattern of a system. Patterns lead to the idea of some sort of organizer that orchestrates the pattern. Things have a cause, and therefore a controlling factor. The centralized control mindset seemed to lead scientific theories until recently. Centralized systems seemed to be the only ones existing and the only ones that provided a solution. Bird flocks used to be thought of as having a leader the controlled the path of flight. People have relied almost entirely on centralized strategies, ignoring the decentralized approach.

Mitchel Resnick states that we have entered an Era of Decentralization. There is a trend that shifts toward decentralized structures, abandoning centralized hierarchies. Scientists have found more and more evidence of such structures in the systems with every scale from political structures dealing with a whole nation, to microorganisms.

The text states (pg 7)

“[…]neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it  … he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his invention.” Adam Smith

This paragraph reminds me of the Prisoner’s Dilemma in a way. Two neighbors might choose to share resources in order to have less, but stable income. If one tries to use up more land (resources) then they  come out on top, but have income for a shorter amount of time. As in the quote, if every individual “intends only his own gain,” than that implies that between the two neighbors sharing resources would not happen but rather each would only worry about their own income.

So far we had gone through a lot of exercises that applied decentralized models and have visited a couple of places that apply this structure. Meerkat and WOW follow a decentralized system with success. Do you think this is the right model to follow in order to enforce collaboration?

Can you think of an example where a centralized approach took place, but a decentralized one might have worked better? Or the other way around.

What is necessary to support a decentralized module? What factor does communication play?


Viki & Gus

Questioning a “Shared Culture”

Hi everyone! This week me and Joamir were thinking that it would be really awesome to talk about the documentary “Press Pause Play” this week. You can view it for free online (here: and it’s only 80 minutes long.

 “Concerned with the larger questions of technology’s problematic side, the most interesting angle Press, Pause Play takes, relates to standards and how these issues have affected our collective notion of “The Artist”. Prior to the digital revolution, standards in creativity tended to lean towards a black and white approach of ‘good art’ vs. ‘bad art’. Generally dictated by organizations, be it, Schools of Fine Art, record companies or Museums, art was delivered to the masses through a top down approach. What we are culturally experiencing today is a polar shift in the traditional methods that dictate fame and success. Art is growing from the ground up, but quantity is altering quality.

Is the democratic self-filtering approach emerging in art a successful one? Or will mediocrity be all you need to survive.”

Here are some other questions to consider when viewing the film: How does new technology inspire collaboration? How has new technology democratised media? What possibilities and problems are posed by this democratisation? How did file sharing influence the music industry? How has this technology influenced the way that we listen to and interact with media?
Here are a few projects to consider that utilize this process through crowdsourcing and scaling collaboration:
Also- If you are interested in the future of publishing, take a look at The Domino Project from Amazon.
How does new technology change the relationship between artists, traditional media companies and publishers, and the audience ? How has the power shifted between the different stake holders, and how has this affected the seriousness of the work produced?
Please share other projects that you think have benefited or suffered from advances in new technology and a shared culture.
Stephanie and Joamir

Human Centered Design

Q: The language of the Introduction (Desirability Lens, Value Chain) seems to be geared for a different audience than the language of the toolkit (develop deep empathy, question assumptions). Many of the methods described in the toolkit seem to be based on solid design thinking, but do you see negative ramifications or disconnects in this Human Centered Design approach?

The language of the two documents really is very interesting, and can be traced back to the history of IDEO: it is a design firm and innovation consultancy. The toolkit is an appealing document for designers, like the observation above notes, it seems to be focused on solid design thinking. The introduction on the other hand speaks more in the language of NGO’s (“entering a new region”, “understanding the needs of the constituents”, “new methods for monitoring and evaluation”, etc.), the organizations that are traditionally IDEO’s clients. That a company like IDEO is focused on Human Centered Design makes sense for this reason, it is good way to engage in a design and innovation process, but is also a good way to have control: there are steps to take, people to talk to, observations to make – an appealing process for clients of a design consultancy firm.

An important aspect of Human Centered Design is “that technology should adapt to people”. There are examples of excellent products however, that have not been created through the process of Human Centered Design and where people adapted to the technology, for example automobiles, kitchen utensils, watches, etc. The design approach for these products can be called ‘Activity Centered Design’, but I’m not sure that is a widely accepted term. An important thing to note here is that the design of these products has very much evolved over time, which makes the process far less appealing for both consultancy firms and their clients. Either approach is fine by the way, I am as much a fan of HCD as the next designer, but it certainly is interesting to discuss why Human Centered Design is the popular choice.

* These arguments have been influenced by the article “Human-Centered Design Considered Harmful” by Don Norman, it can be found here:

Human Centered Design

I’ve always been a fan of IDEO and I love their design processes. I really found it interesting when they explain how the toolkit doesn’t offer solutions, it offers techniques. This tooklit may not have the answers, it may not be the only way to do things but you can certainly take things from this and implement them into your own work. I found the part about Multi-disciplinary teams, dedicated spaces, and finite timeframes extremely helpful for long term success. I know for one I work better with a deadline and if I am given too much time or the deadline is not exactly clear on a project, I begin to wander aimlessly in a world of research and I lose track of my purpose. These steps can definitely help me with my final project for this course.

Q: The language of the Introduction (Desirability Lens, Value Chain) seems to be geared for a different audience than the language of the toolkit (develop deep empathy, question assumptions).  Many of the methods described in the toolkit seem to be based on solid design thinking, but do you see negative ramifications or disconnects in this Human Centered Design approach?
I feel the HCD intro seems like a fast paced pitch and it’s breaking down what you should do and how to do it. I see the toolkit being used for larger companies and the toolkit being directed toward individual people. I actually found the Human Centered Design approach inspiring and those steps could be used toward my final project for this class and maybe even my thesis. Both are projects in which I am observing a group of people, figuring out their desires, and creating something to best facilitate those desires to make it easier to communicate.

Upcoming Event

Hey everyone! I came across this event at Eyebeam and thought I’d pass it along in case you haven’t heard about it – seemed relevant to our class.

Who Cares About Collaboration?


Utopic visions of communications have suggested  that technology would alter the way we worked together – bringing us closer, allowing for new forms of intimacy to burgeon. While this is many respects true, the over-saturated sphere, which involves one being ‘connected’ has shifted the nature in which we are able to engage with one another. How then do we form a framework for collaboration? This talk seeks to consider what it means to collaborate with artists, curators, writers, and institutions in a networked era, where conflict can be transposed across epic distances at the click of a button. As arts practitioners, we seek to ask: should we collaborate, and if so, why, and what is the best practice that we can adopt?
This talk is part of a public reception for the recipient of the inaugural residency collaboration between The White Building and Eyebeam.

Speakers include: Kristin Lucas and Joe McKay, Artists; Ramsey Nasser, Artist; Sarah Perks, Artistic Director, Cornerhouse, Manchester; Omar Kholeif, Curator, Writer and Editor and Head of Programming The WhiteBuilding, London, and Roddy Schrock,  Director of Programmes and Residencies, Eyebeam.

Final project group schedule


Peter Chang, Carol Shen, Sisi Liu


Our idea for final project is to make the platform for students in Parsons to collaborate. The platform will be web base which enables every student to post needs of partners online and receive responses in return. The physical installation aims for the interaction between people in a real space in order to enhance active possibilities for people to react to such needs.


Carol in charge of planning and contact group member

Sisi in charge of research and documentation

Peter in charge of design

Roles Details:

Research: Sisi

Concept Building: Carol/ Peter/ Sisi

Sketches: Carol/ Peter

Wireframes:Carol/ Peter/ Sisi

Design:Carol/ Peter

User Testing:Carol/ Peter/ Sisi

Advertising: Sisi


Presentation:Carol/ Peter/ Sisi


10 AM and 7 PM every Thursday, 5pm every Sunday

Before class and After class


Documentation of prototypes in appropriate media


Oct 31: Research, Interviews and questionnaire, Idea Sketches

Nov 7:  Wireframes and User Flow

Nov 14: Prototype 1 Due (Wireframe with clear objective and flow)

Nov 21: Design process, User testing

Nov 26: Prototype 2 Due (Refine Design)

Dec 5: Prototype 3/  Documentation and Evaluation

Dec 12: Final Presentation