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A:    Nomadic
S:    @sos_xyz_ 

🍬 The Year of the Lozenge 🍬  

2019 has been a turbulent year. It concluded a decade defined by mass and international revolt. The Arab Spring, Occupy, Islamic State, the Latin American Spring, HK Pro-democracy, #MeToo, the Populism movement, Gilet Jaunes, climate protests, School Strikes, along with more local protests that risk more international response including the recent Lebonese protests, the Kashmiri dispute amongst many many others.

XR on the Tube. Photographed by Peter Brooks 2019.

The decade ends with the rise of the radical right whilst the left burrows into battle hardened trenches leaving little to no scope for consensus. Do we have the tools necessary to remedy this impasse; what is the role of contemporary Design and Architecture in our unfamiliar present condition? In a polarised world, seeking the middle ground might just be the most radical position available.

SOS_20 looks to draw its creative vigor from the Lozenge; a small, sometimes flavoured, orally administered tablet designed to alleviate a sore or dry throat. This year, instead of pursuing often unattainable solutions-based methodologies, 20 participants over 4 weeks will seek to discover and define their own amelioration-based critical design methodologies, a springboard to their own form of critical practice or a return to university with new perspectives. These methodologies will find common ground to make better, soothe and slowly mend sores.

Capacity Pills (2019) by BIS Studio.

This year we will seek to define and explore four nascent Critical Design methods: Performance Therapy, (P)labour Relations, Speculative History and Protest Architecture. See Course Outline to find out more! 

💫 Course Outline 💫

1️⃣ Performance Therapy

As our Lozenge soothes, healing often occurs through therapy. Today’s politics has been driven to extreme ends, with violence and lack of understanding from all sides. It would seem that empathy, as a last radical stand, could offer an alternative strategy to many trapped within ideological enclaves.

By crossing the cognitive gap, role play garners an understanding that goes beyond the conceptual, and extends into the lived experience of the other. Design and performance could find a way of processing trauma by prototyping scalable political infrastructures or cultivating affinities as a form of critical empathy. Through empathetic contextual design, we have seen how performance therapy sheds light on today’s entrenched politics and inward individualism.

2️⃣ (P)Labour Relations

The digitisation of work has seen labour become increasingly divided into smaller and smaller divisible parts. With the likes of WeWork, Task Rabbit and others, labour has become more precarious as workers are encouraged to self-employ on colossal international platforms, with the effect of deregulating one hundred years of hard fought workers’ rights.

In addition to the fragmentation of labour forms, digital cognitive labour has taken hold. Digital cognitive labour is the pro bono labour offered to the internet’s vast media platforms through our internet browsing histories. With each click we join the billions of bytes of data that will form the next behavioural analysis for advertisement. As our social lives increasingly depend these interactions online, the work we unwittingly subject ourselves to is mined for profit. As such, today’s social foundations are being manipulated by the drive for digital capital. Labour has not only become more fractional but more obscure than ever before.

3️⃣ Speculative History

Alternate history or Allohistory is a major literary genre under speculative fiction and today is explored through Hypertext literature where the use of links in text allows audiences to jump through multiple narratives. Allohistory is also a popular backdrop to contemporary gaming (Fallout: New Vegas; Freedom Fighters; Civilization), providing the basis for much of today’s game theory, sprouting new worlds based on familiar and shared accounts of history.

Alternate histories give criticism to a past already committed to ink on paper. Many historians argue that considering the alternative course of action available to historical actors at a given historical moment has always been a tacit component of historical analysis. In order for historians to develop arguments, they have to consider what options were open to protagonists at the time.

In today’s world of multiplying histories and accumulating perspectives, the need to recover and retake our collective past has never been more urgent. Design has worked and failed too many times for the future hypothetical, allohistory backward speculates to ameliorate our present.

4️⃣Protest Architecture

Protests and action-based demonstrations have seen a dramatic re-emergence in the past decade beginning with the first Arab Spring events of 2010 followed shortly by the international Occupy movement in 2011. This decade has seen the rise of the Islamic State, global populism and most recently, the surge in climate protests lead by groups such as Extinction Rebellion.

With so much to be said and with so many feeling disenfranchised, what place does design have in the context of protest? XR’s success can largely be accredited to their canny design and marketing strategies which were able to resonate with a contemporary western audience. Similarly, the #MeToo movement’s use of social media has brought sexual harassment and assualt into nesscessary focus. Design and Architecture is in essence, the master planning of a construction event or aesthetic strategy, coordinating people and materials through space and time, negotiating contracts and planning. What have we learnt from the past decade and how could it be better deployed for protest and political / societal remedy?


Address: Nomadic
@sos_xyz_ on Insta & Twitter