In fall 2013, Nelly Ben Hayoun’s The Other Volcano is to be exhibited as part of the Design and Violence online Exhibition , at the MOMA, NYC, USA. An exhibition curated by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA; and Jamer Hunt, Director, MFA in Transdisciplinary Design, Parsons The New School for Design.
Violence accommodates myriad definitions, spanning a wide spectrum between the symbolic and the real, and between the individual and the public. As we define it, it is a manifestation of the power to alter the circumstances around us, against the will of others and to their detriment; it is a power and an agency that tempts us all in various guises. Transformation is at the core of designers’ work. Although the transformations they enact are traditionally intended for the betterment of society, even for designers it is easy to overstep, indulge in temptation, succumb to the dark side of a moral dilemma, or simply err.
Design can indisputably be an act of creative destruction, and yet professional discourse has been dominated by voices that only trumpet design’s commercial and aesthetic successes. Historically, designers’ ambitions for transformation have ranged from the quotidian to the autocratic—from spoons to cities. Whether under the guise of urban renewal or the cliché of disruptive innovation, designers at all scales, from architects to interface and fonts experts, have often played an invisible or ambiguous role in the reconfiguration of ways of life, ecosystems, and moral philosophies. With its own rise intimately tied to scientific, industrial, and digital revolutions, the design profession is not solely responsible for these disruptive transformations, but it has been there to help at their birth. Having turned a blind eye to the depth of design’s complicity in destroying as much as (or more than) it creates, we have been institutionally incapable of gauging the full extent of design’s impact.
In fall 2013 we inaugurate the online project Design and Violence, organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA; and Jamer Hunt, Director, MFA in Transdisciplinary Design, Parsons The New School for Design. With this project, we intend to present thoughtful, incisive, and intellectually elegant case studies that will spark discussion and bring the relationship between design and violence to center stage for designers and the people they serve—all of us.
Pairing the critical thinkers we most admire with examples of challenging and controversial design work, we are inviting experts from fields as diverse as science, philosophy, literature, music, film, journalism, and politics to respond to selected design objects. This curatorial experiment uses violence as a lens through which to explore the intimate and entangled relationships between creativity, destruction, construction, and everyday experience.