by Nicolas Bourriaud
The Mobile Closet
“Her work is about creating environments where people can come and have an exchange between the artist and the consumer. Christine, the proprietor and service provider, provides a file box of »attributes« on flash cards, and together with the visitor assembles them a care package that consists of the objects they’ve selected with the character traits they’ve assigned them.”
Rirkrit Tiravanija – Make a Thai Soup
“Organizes a dinner in a collectors home, and leaves him all the ingredients required to make a Thai soup. The piece of art is determine by the participation of the individuals who are engaged in the given situation”.
Education for Socially Engaged Art
“Perseption requires participation”
During this summer break I decided to continue to developed another part of my research that is more hands on and that I’m interested about. This part is organizing workshops were people in the community can come and participate and use their hands to make something of value to them.
Suzie’s Farm invited me to participate in two of their annual festival. The Strawberry Festival and the Tomatoes Festival. Armed with squeegee on hand, apron and inks I begin a silkscreen demo based on the participation of the community. The workshop turned out to be an excellent platform for people to come together and learn how to make their own printed piece with designs of seasonal produces.
“You want to do things that have some relationship to your community , to your family, to your city, to the world.” Milton Glaser
Milton Glaser’s quote has been a constant reminder of not only how I was raised but also how I believe my work can contribute to the graphic design community. My current research started when I became enthralled with his readings. Thus, my research methods were primarily based on the growing interest in the designer’s role and responsibility in society, specially the belief that social change can happen through design.
The photos bellow show a few of the pieces that were presented during my advacement on May 3rd, 2013 at the Flor y Canto gallery at San Diego State University.
I was really happy to get my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box this week and find inside some delicious strawberries. After 8 straight weeks of greens and bitter herbs I’m finally able to taste something sweet!
So with pen and paper on hand I begin my sketches for the following silkscreen prints of this wonderful strawberries.
A Guide For Responsible Seasonal Consumption is a project that focuses on reconnecting people to the source of the produce that we buy everyday. With so many farms in San Diego and more community gardens being started throughout the city; it is important to reconnect the community to the faces that are behind the produce that we bring to our tables. The illustrations, photograph and short content makes it easy for others to learn the season of each vegetable and as well as its nutritional information. This guide seeks to communicate with people and to interact with the community as the process of the research takes part behind the scenes. The first guide featuring the vegetable Kohlrabi is an introductory guide for more to come. Eventually this guide will be turn in to a collection of several educational and playful guides. These will be made available to people in schools, coffee shops and grocery stores. Along with the collection of guides a set of silk screen prints of each vegetable found in my farm box will be printed in sets of 20. The guides turn into a 22×30 poster of what I called a 1-2-3 Step Visual Recipe that shows an easy way of cooking any kind of vegetable. This visual recipe is a narrative of 3 steps that begins not with a list of ingredients or lesson on measurements but with a way of seeing, smelling and thinking. More importantly the shots offer a way of embracing our cooking from a simple angle. The fact is that we all know how to cook weather you think you do or not. In the words of Tamar Adler, “Celebrating the amateur cook, encouraging them to embrace the process, including the mistakes along the way. Eating, connecting to the source is about living fully, responsibly and well.”
There’s still so much more to develop, but for now I’m really excited that as an artist I can make use of graphic design as my medium, be amongst the community and have a way to positively affect the next generation as well.
I have developed a system for documenting my findings every week. Here is a list of what goes on behind the scene as I piece together this puzzle of my research, as I like to call it.
1. Place my vegetable order the day before and call Wendolin in Suzie’s Farm front office.
2. Pack camera and journal in case I need to jot some quick notes down
3. I pick up my box of freshly harvested produce for the week
4. Talk to the farm workers and interview them (most rewarding part of the project)
5. Take the box home and photograph my findings of that week
6. Cook some of the vegetable that are new to me
7. Draw all the vegetables from the box and scan them later that
day to put them into the computer and turn them into silk screen prints later
8. Finally import all my pictures and video into the computer and start piecing together
the mural of photographs from my cooking process for a visual recipe to be part of the Guide
for Responsible Seasonal Consumption
As I’m developing my research for my final presentation this semester on A GUIDE FOR RESPONSIBLE SEASONAL CONSUMPTION. I came across this awesome organization called Nommola in Hawaii. Nomoola founded an organization called Eating in Public in 2003 in Hawaii with the goal of developing fun and easy systems that in turn would encourage sustainability and mutuality around the community. In this organization they encourage everyone and anyone to participate at no charge. I think is awesome that there be organizations like this one given to take care of each other while taking care of ourselves.
After reading about Nomoola I started thinking if there will be a way to be apart of their projects being in San Diego. But how? After a few emails with this organization I’m now part of a volunteer program called “Share Seeds.” This is what Sharing Seeds is about (here is their website. http://nomoola.com/seeds/index.html#.UTp8F6U4T8s
The SHARE SEEDS project focuses on the sharing of seeds.
Seed-sharing is an ancient practice throughout the world. It is currently under threat by big industrial seed corporations (e.g. Monsanto). They want to patent seeds and prevent us from sharing them so we will always be forced to buy from them. Seed sharing is crucial to our freedom, autonomy from capitalism and crucial for our collective survival.
CALL TO ACTION
We are encouraging prospective organizations and entities to implement SHARE SEEDS stations. Particularly locations with lots of traffic and used by people of diverse populations – e.g. community centers, libraries, churches, coffee shops, senior service centers, etc. We build our stations entirely with scrap and repurposed material. They are launched with a stapler, rubber stamp/pad, pencils, a starter kit of recycled envelops and approximately 50 seed packets. They are extremely low maintenance and self-explanatory.
NOW IS MY TURN TO TAKE ACTION
In regards to my station it still in progress, but I want to give you an update regarding the venue for the Share Seeds. I had a meeting with Herts Elementary school in San Diego and I presented to them What Nomoola.com and Share seeds is about. The school’s principal was very interested in helping me to carry out the sharing of the seeds by using the school. Next week I will be helping to distribute the word by making an announcement to the entire school, children and parents on Monday. The school already has a garden so they are very much for a project that leads the kids into being educated and taking care of our resources. The teachers will ask the kids to save their seeds at home and bring them to school to share them in our station. I’m so excited for this endeavor! There is the possibility that another elementary school and university gives me the opportunity to do the same at their campus. For now I will continue to finish one station at the time. I can see this kind of project spreading fast here in San Diego.
All the students had a blasts making their own wallet. I was so happy to see the positive response from all the students. What a great group of students! Everyone helping each other and trying to come up with their own costume design for their wallet. Having experienced the great response from this initial workshop, I’m encourage to continue to have another one in the months to come. Stay tuned for new dates on more workshops. Check back on my blog to find out time and location. Thank you everyone for you great support, enthusiasm and help in making this possible.
I’m so excited to announce the first workshop to introduce Terra Linda hand-made products made from recycled materials. For the past months, I have been working on developing a product that relates to my thesis and, finally, the prototype is ready. Thursday the 28th of March 2013, at San Diego State University, a group of 25 graphic designers will be learning how to make their own wallet. These wallets are made from hundreds of onion mesh bags I collected at a local grocery store in San Diego. I spent all summer and winter of 2012 collaborating with the store employees, who were very excited to help me on this project. The purpose of the workshop is to inspire future graphic designers on how to make use of their skills as communicators. The design that we create affects thousands of people, and if this is the case, then why not affect them in a positive way. By creating responsible design with a social conscience, we as citizen designers take the lead in our communities to be engaged and to engage others with what really matters to those around us.
The aim of this product is not to make one rich but, rather, to serve as a vehicle that would support many more workshops. The idea is to bring people of whatever age from the San Diego community together to make something with their own hands. My hope is that in conducting small intimate workshops, there will be a renewed desire to create with our own hands, and to reconnect with the materials that so easily get discarded everyday.
“In the 1930′s, Walter Benjamin wrote about human kind and ‘self alienation.’ He said that ‘self-alienation’ has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.” When we consider the ways in which design serves to aestheticize and validate waste, anti-democratic forms of power and the primacy of surface over substance, Benjamin’s words can only give us pause.” In other words, the consumer has become so far removed from the “source,” the “producer,” that we have lost the connection with our own community. This is why “designers must come to reflect upon the functions they serve and on the potentially hazardous implications of those functions.”
At SDSU we had the honor of having Kate Bingaman Burt this past week. Her lecture was simply amazing. It reminded me of why I’m in grad school and why I love to be an educator/designer/maker of things. A thousand thanks to Kate for visiting us and watering our brains with your creative work.
“Kate Bingaman Burt is an illustrator and educator. She has been making work about consumption since 2002, teaching since 2004 and drawing until her hand cramps since 2006. Her first book, Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2010 and her second book, What Did I Buy Today?, is also coming out from Princeton Architectural Press in Spring of 2013.
She lives in Portland, Oregon, where, along with being an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University, she also makes piles of work about consumerism: zines! pillows! dresses! drawings! paper chains! photos! Starting in 2002, she photographed everything she purchased (finished in 2004). In 2004, she started drawing all of her credit card statements until they were paid off (finished in 2010). In 2006, she started drawing something she purchased everyday (still drawing!). She also wants to draw your passwords, mix tapes, stolen goods and yard sale signs. On going photo projects include documenting sad, discarded thrift store crafts and Portland free boxes. She will also take a picture of the back of your head if you sit in front of her on the bus.”
“The goal is to turn readers or spectators into collaborators”
“When Benjamin called for authors to become producers, he did not mean for them to become factory workers alienated from the form and purpose of the manufactured thing. The challenge for designers today is to help become the masters, not the slaves, of technology. There exist opportunity to seize control intellectually and economically of the means of production, and to share that control with the reading public, empowering them to become producers as well as consumers of meaning.”
Last month I begin to read a series of excellent essays by Walter Benjamin. I commend all graphic designers and everyone who is in the field of design to read them. In the “Author as Producer” Walter makes a call to turn designers from spectators to collaborators. He wanted to encourage us to raised up above the tool itself and to take ownership and control of our own designs.
This article has open a new horizon for me in the way I now perceive my own work of art. I don’t believe in art just for the sake of art. to me art expresses the feelings of the society in which we are living today. In other words art is the reflection of a society. the mirror of a moment in society.
I would like my work to become a social platform for people to come together and talk. I’m interested in the community’s engagement through my work and not so much on the external beauty of it. To me the beauty lies in the dialogue and social interaction that takes place through the work.
Here is the link to the book that contains this essay: