by Bela Meiers
Design cannot be apolitical. Every design practice is based on decisions that carry ideas and interests. A critical examination of the political dimensions of design and a positioning in terms of content is not uncommon among designers, but especially in everyday business this is rarely communicated or discussed.
Whatstodo wants to inspire, give examples and facilitate the conditions for critical reflection on one's own practice. Positions, written by the participants and containing (design-) political ideas and values as well as concrete guidance for action are at the core of the project. By supplementing and signing these, a collectively designed catalog of positions is created, with the help of which personal priorities can be articulated. The act of signing a position represents the necessity of politically informed action. With this principle of self-obligation Whatstodo seeks the practice-oriented examination of political issues in design processes and thus differs from manifestos and absolutisms.
Whatstodo is a tool for political designers and those who want to become one, but it is also a platform for sharing knowledge and support. It offers both designers and clients the opportunity to inform themselves about socio- and design-political themes and positions. The provision of a reference system and the fluid association with designers strengthens the participants' positions and facilitates transparent communication.
After graduating, Béla Meiers has teamed up with the art historian Jandra Böttger, the designer Rana Karan and the developer Arno Schlipf. The interdisciplinary collective is currently working on the finalization of the website. In addition to the tool whatstodo, it is planned to expand the content via textual and audio-visual guest contributions by designers and artists. Events like lectures, discussion panels and workshops are planned to further the discussion.
As part of the Graduation show, Jandra Böttger, Rana Karan and Béla Meiers organize a roundtable discussion: In addition to the presentation of the project whatstodo, various voices from the fields of culture and business will be heard. The discussion will be broadcasted on Friday the 04.12.20 on the streaming channels of the HfGK.
Gathering the Given, Sampling the System finds different patterns of collecting amongst our living surroundings: from blind spots of artificial intelligence’s search algorithms to tools that help organize people in political positioning processes. Whereas visual likeness seems to be quite misleading in the shown projects, alternative practices of resembling and reinventing promise to shed new light on old things.
Bela Meiers, Jandra Böttger, Rana Karan
Questioning the working conditions in the cultural industry and looking for strategies to politicize design practice.
In a threefold talk series, Rana Karan, Jandra Boettger and Béla Meiers will host talks with various guests focusing the question How do we want to work?