Synopsis – Disobedient Objects
Disobedient Objects was the title of an exhibition in the V&A in September 2014. The exhibition examined the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. It demonstrated how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design.
This Field project will combine a reflection on the disruptive potential of objects. The notion of disobedience will be explored in two main strands:
- as a stance against authority, where the object or its use challenges established order and power structures, facilitates expression of protest, contributes to social change or disseminates ideas.
- as a feature of the objects, where the function and functionality is not what would be expected from the object, the gadget rebels, the connected gizmo is irreverent.
The disobedient objects in the V&A exhibition share a DIY aesthetic, they were often made in urgency on a shoestring budget, compensating low-tech quality with high inventiveness. Similarly, the objects that will be constructed during the field project will be largely made from recycled and cheap materials, with a “quick and dirty” approach.
Paul Granjon and Jon Pigott both make active objects using a combination of techniques that include programmable electronics. Although not a compulsory aspect of the project, you will be supported to use DIY electronics and open source coding using the Arduino (a non-commercial, community-driven set of technologies designed for people from all backgrounds, not only for engineers).
The sessions will mostly take place in the FabLab where you will be able to access laser cutting, 3D printing and other digital manufacturing technologies.
Overall we will encourage upcycling, recycling, lateral thinking, reverse engineering and dirty hands.
The participants in this project will work in small teams and make one or more disobedient objects that will be demonstrated at the end. First they will be asked to identify a situation that needs addressing, an imbalance that needs balancing, a voice that needs to be amplified, a force that needs to be resisted, a design thet needs to be laughed at. They will imagine, design and build an object, set, or device to put things right or break things even more using a wide range of hand-made technologies ranging from gaffer tape to programmable LEDs to crisp wrappers to servo motors.
Throughout the project an open, critical, sharing and questioning attitude will be required.
Participants must be prepared to work in small groups (4 to 5 students).
Technical demonstrators will provide fabrication and programming support throughout. A series of short thematic lectures will delivered by the academic staff.
You will be encouraged and supported to include Arduino and open source programmable electronics in your object. You will be equally encouraged to used found and recycled/upcycled materials and adhoc construction techniques.
Recommended reading and resources
Flood, C. and Grindon, G. (ed) Disobedient Objects, V&A Publishing, 2014
Klanten, R. and Hübner, M. (ed) Urban Interventions, Personal Projects in Public Spaces, Gestalten 2010
Arkhipov, V. Home-Made, Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts, Fuel, 2006
Thompson, N. and Sholette, G (ed) The Interventionists: User’s Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life, MASS MoCA Publications 2005
Debord, G. The Society of Spectacle, Zone Books 1994 (originally published in 1967)
Freyer C., Noël, S., Rucki E. Digital by Design, Thames and Hudson 2008
Thwaites, T. The Toaster Project, Princeton Architectural Press, 2011
Kurzweil, R. The Singularity is Near, Duckworth 2009
Shiffman, D. Learning Processing, Morgan Kaufmann, 2008
Dunne, A. and Raby, F. Speculative Everything, MIT Press, 2013
Bichlbaum, A. The Yes Men Fix The World, Dogwoof, 2008 (DVD)