사대주의 (Sadaejuui) in Korea: Part 2

Understanding Speculative Design

In hindsight, ‘speculative design’ was particularly hard for me to grasp because I wasn’t in the physical classroom where we could act out speculative methods. I didn’t understand why we would design for something that wasn’t a reality. I kept wanting to think that this fantastical mindset was art, not design. I still believe that speculative design is less functional and more storytelling, but now I see the value in that. Not all design has to have monetary potential. I also saw the connection of plurality and speculative design in this quote:

It shows that speculative design can break the echo-chamber of the same story being told and it can open the viewers’ eyes into an alternative reality, whether that be pragmatic or not. It also made me realize that even as a creator, imagination was something I wasn’t used to. During co-design sessions, it was also evident that imagination was not a trained characteristic that modern society is used to. Even in the world of hyper-entertainment, there’s only a handful of people who manage authority, economy, and knowledge, so we only accept a similar version of the same stories.

A case study of speculative storytelling that resonated with me was the movie Annihilation by Alex Garland. This film is originally a series of books called Area X by Jeff VanderMeer. He focused on depicting large-scale, catastrophic environmental change through unsettling, bizarrely touching transpositions. His story told the story about the loss of habitat and loss of world driving a certain melancholy towards the contamination of our world that was filled with wildlife that thrives in the area. exudes an un-animal-like presence, and the people who occasionally return from exploratory missions are different, emptier, with a distant stranger’s understanding of the facts of their own life. The book makes an analogy that this alien space called Area X is to human beings what human civilization has often been to other species: a spreading, transformative force that renders a once-familiar world hostile and unpredictable. The visual aid of CGI, set design, and costume design was inspiring in how I could choose to tell my story.

Understanding Co-design

After reading Design for Pluriverse by Pablo Escobar, Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary by many authors, Anthology on Democratic Innovation by the Democratic Lab, Coloniality: The Darker Side of Modernity by Walter D. Mignolo, and more. These resources gave me insights:

  • The polycentric capitalist world of today is built on imperialist ideals
  • Design education space is pre-dominantly white, meaning the standard of what is considered an acceptable art form or design is heavily Euro-centric.
  • Co-design is often used as a design method to involve more indigenous artists and methods (whether they call themselves that or not, I believe everyone has a skillset in craft).
  • Successful co-design sessions are often when the designer has set aside their ego or god-complex and acted as a facilitator.

This idea of co-design was clearly about dismantling the top-down design methods, which made me think about democracy. To me, democracy means people govern the country, not ppl do whatever they want. There’s a difference between democracy and anarchy. Anti-lockdown protests show that ppl have an inaccurate perception of freedom. The lockdown itself is the will of the ppl. Korea’s tracking methods were deemed undemocratic to some, as the government sends notifications that reveal the carrier’s paths to all citizens of the city. However, the reason why Korean citizens were accepting of this method is that the identity of the carriers was still protected and also because Korea didn’t close the borders, which was a critical difference to other countries’ actions. The balance of control was carefully conducted by doing so because the surveillance method was tracking the disease not the person and because the government didn’t cut the country off or Daegu (mostly affected city) off from the rest of the country. This shows that people were still free to move as they wanted, domestically, or internationally. Brazil’s or Colorado’s protests doesn’t mean that they are minimizing Corona’s severities, it just means that the government’s choice to close the borders in addition to states’ lockdowns was not widely accepted by the public as it was not a balanced control.

In co-design, there’s Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation. This ladder can be used as an effective measurement tool for the government’s control. Korea was in level 7, where the citizens had the choice to travel as they wished, but chose to minimize movement to aid the country’s safety, whereas other countries were in level 3, where the citizens had to abide by the government’s travel bans and lockdown.

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