martes, 12 de abril de 2022


Un Mundo Feliz (January 2012 - April 2022)

"In a society where all official media is subject to censorship, from microblogs to partisan newspapers as well, it's an incredibly subversive thing to be able to connect with people." — Alison Klayman

"Contemporary art would never, in fact, have had the pretension of offering ornament, distraction or entertainment. Rather, it would have been to radically denounce the inadequacies of the world we live in." — José Luis Brea

Since the collective experiences of 1968, graphic design has maintained a humanist "tradition" applied to the field of public service from the point of view of citizenship, associations, social policy and philanthropy. Nowadays, designers have a large number of forums in which to show and distribute their "involved" work in the service of a truth committed to social cohesion and political protest. We call these models of collective action counterbanks, whose function is to be agents that stimulate the dissemination and exchange of ideas and promote the emergence of critical social thought. They are image gallery-tools that create an "iconographic imaginary" for political, educational and civic action.

Civic education and civic participation
For the Greeks, man and citizen were synonymous. As Bárcena Orbe says, "to participate in the life of the polis, of their city, meant "to live"". Hannah Arendt believes that the public sphere is the most suitable space for self-development, a "place conducive to human excellence". This perspective brings us to the idea of something we call participatory democracy. "Conceived as a form of action, politics is the activity of conducting the affairs of a community through language" and "presupposes an active and creative participation of citizens in the management of common affairs", according to Bárcena. According to the tradition of civic thought —Aristotle, Jefferson, Tocqueville...— "politics finds its authentic expression when citizens come together in a public space to deliberate, judge and decide on the collective affairs that concern them", also according to Bárcena Orbe. Artistic practices and design in general emphasise personal aspects and individual creativity, forgetting that creators are part of a community, that their discourse refers to both the private and the public, and that their task brings together political, social and cultural values.

Designing or making art can be forms of social and democratic life in a technological age. Citizen-creators can judge and evaluate their life realities through the new digital environments. Solidarity and justice become communication experiences that can break down barriers of territory, race, etc. Websites, image galleries and blogs can promote "initiative and critical and creative participation in the public and social sphere", in the words of Bárcena Orbe, from the moment they call for "participation". Importantly, "conceived as a way of life, democracy is above all a meeting between people with different interests, opinions and approaches to things" (Bárcena Orbe). This model of creativity allows for the education of judgement, making participatory discrepancy visible and enabling the creator-citizen "to judge options and possibilities", as Barber points out. In this sense, Fernando Bárcena considers that one of the main objectives of educational action with regard to the shaping of civic character should focus on the development of social action skills, in order to produce enlightened, communicative, cooperative, responsible and supportive people.

Towards "post-public" and "virtual" knowledge management
The specific domain of politics is the "common good". That is, the conditions for the "good life" of the people as a whole, the "health of the people" (Hobbes). (Hobbes). According to Julien Freund "common good equals public good". The public is the sphere of shared interest of the forces of a society. The accelerated progress of the "open society" (Popper) thanks to information and communication technologies (TV, internet, digital and mobile technologies...) has made it possible to "publish" the "private" with fewer restrictions and at great speed. In the words of Alberto Buela, there is an "invasion by the public of the private". One of the errors is to think that the public "is first and foremost a physical space" of "social interaction" (Habermas). It is really a "virtual space" where "citizens debate issues of common interest". The public must be thought of as a purpose and function, as "a public good", i.e. public enterprise, public health or public education. The time has come for the economy, knowledge and "post-public" values. What we have is no longer good enough. The questions we face outweigh the learned answers. Our capacity for response and action is in question.

Creative plurality / creative multitude
According to Paolo Virno, the category multitude explains many of the behaviours of contemporary society. "Multitude means many, plurality, a set of singularities that act in concert in the public sphere without entrusting themselves to the monopoly of political decision-making that is the state. For him, current forms of life and production overlap and confuse to such an extent that, for Virno, "it is difficult to say where collective experience ends and individual experience begins. It is difficult to separate public experience from so-called private experience. (...) The contemporary multitude is composed neither of citizens nor of producers."

Democratic Unrest
Graphic activism is a form of participation within the public sphere/square that starts from critique, dissatisfaction and dissent. Activism is concerned with the "res-pública", with issues of the common good and the commons, and questions the material or intangible abuses of rights and property by the powers that be, in whatever form. All activism is provoked by a situation of malaise, crisis and inoperability. Any functioning of the official dominant forms can give rise to dissatisfaction. In this situation, a radically democratic and alternative dynamic demands the critical use of words and images. The designer-activist has "the capacity of the citizen to intervene in the sphere where decisions are made", as he states in the article "Society and artists", published in Zehar magazine.

Other news
Graphic activism needs to free itself completely from the aesthetics of efficacy (efficiency). The purpose of activist design is not to pity, but to question, expose and provoke. It does not have to result in efficient and happy communication, its place is in unloading and dissent, providing an imminent response that offers the real "news of the world". Provoking reactions against indifference. Activist design practice needs an "adult audience" seeking responsible experiences and desires.

Public service
In the face of the privatisation of the most profitable public services in Western liberal democracies, activist design must position itself in the territory of the public as an accessible service far removed from the business models of capitalist production. Its main role is to serve as a channel of expression of a pluralistic democratic order, where criticism and denunciation meet. Design as a public service is a practice of the "incomplete" that seeks to present, comment on and visualize issues that are eliminated, silenced or are of no interest to the agenda.

Shared resources
For Virno, the multitude situates its social and political praxis in "not feeling at home" and the "commons". These two premises are a shared resource on which the "many" can draw in any situation. Sharing linguistic and cognitive skills is characteristic of the "many as many" and one of the basic conditions of production today. Today's multitude through the web proposes a more universal "unity" than the state. For in this medium the "public intellect, language and commonplaces" visualize plural experiences more efficiently, without the need to "seize power" or build new states.

According to José Luis Brea, presence and participation are the qualities par excellence of artistic work on the web. Web art proposes a way of socialising based on the articulation of its own strategies of reception. The spectator becomes a user, can communicate and share "claiming the construction of modes of exchange in the public sphere that allow us to imagine the online community as a community capable of contributing to deepening the radical democratisation of the social place, as a community to come under the protection of the new media".

Intervening and networking
The projects developed on the Net are "a support for creation and a place of exhibition"... but above all they are actions and processes of the system itself. They are ubiquitous, transcend the local and are freely accessible to anyone who connects. Baigorri and Cilleruelo affirm that "the Net has speeded up the processes of artistic creation and publication, favouring the independence of the author and his direct relationship with the spectator-user"; and that creative projects on the Net "are also participatory events and communication processes". Another important issue is the idea that "being online means being distributed". This premise is not always true, but the web has allowed for the massive visualisation and dissemination of activist graphics. Lourdes Cilleruelo says that on the Internet "connection is more important than content". The medium provides a relevant communicative potential: the connected multitude. Blogs, websites and online galleries make it possible to develop a process of group interactions based on the construction of links between groups and individuals. They are virtual communities or global communication spaces based on common interests...

Published in 2012 in MONOGRAFICA Magazine
PAZIFIKA / Posters for Ukraine. Exhibition in the Central de Diseño, Matadero Madrid, Spain. 7 April – 16 May 2022.
A project by FamaFest2022

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