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nscad | mdes 2012 | studio project | spring 2012 | mdes 6800

taking hostages

taking hostages contents

03 foreword, michael leblanc project documentation & essays 06 Martyn Anstice 13 kevin dahi 22 grace fang 29 ian grivois 38 leeandra cianci & carley hodgkinson 50 lyly long 57 stuart mcquarrie 63 michael peters 68 joseph rau 74 hana seo 93 linghan zhan 103 yanyan zhang

michael leblanc, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Design, NSCAD

Suffice it to say that in our view the premises for rev-

French word that means deflection, diversion, rerouting or re-

olution, on the cultural as well as the strictly political

purposing. Debord used the term in “The Society of the Spec-


level, are not only ripe, they have begun to rot…The

tacle” when he referred to it as “the opposite of quotation, of

only historically justified tactic is extremist innovation.

appealing to a theoretical authority that is inevitably tainted by

—Guy Debord, Gil J. Wolman A User’s Guide to Détournement, 1956

the very fact that it has become a quotation”. (Debord, Society

At the risk of sullying the purity of the Situationist’s

of the Spectacle, 1967)

voice, and instrumentalizing an activity which is at once both

Citation irony, anyone?

derivative and revolutionary, I would like to offer the opin-

It is plain from reading “A User’s Guide” that Debord has

ion that the practice of détournement has a practical value

little interest in the aesthetic aspects of literature and art. For

for designers in the 21st century. We have all—not just the

him, the purpose of art is to generate political change. Debord

leftist proto-anarchists of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

seeks to harness the weight and inertia of culture and turn it

and those of us who are sympathizers—become aware of the

upon itself, somewhat like the master of jiu jitsu deflects the

creaking and swaying scaffold that is Globalism. Those of us

mass and motive force of an attacker. To do this, one must

who are incompletely in its thrall know that the pressing issues

separate the artistic work from the owner. In the case of dé-

in our world require the remedy of designers who practice

tournement, it is not enough for Bertold Brecht to make cuts

“extremist innovation”. These designers will have the capac-

to the classics in order to make a point. Debord’s “extremist

ity for flexibility of thought—not just flexibility, but the ability

innovation” calls for taking “any elements, no matter where

to bend one ’s mind around on itself—which will give them

they are taken from … [to] make new combinations … any-

the ability to take ideas, turn them inside out, and generate

thing can be used.” (Debord and Wolman, 1956)

new and valuable concepts, tools and systems.

For the Situationist, détournement is “plagiarism, where

To explain how a designer might employ détournement in

both the source and the meaning of the original work was

practice, one must first define the term, and then expand on it

subverted to create a new work.” (Urban Dictionary) Subse-

by visiting the short text called “A User’s Guide to Détourne-

quent forms of détournement have taken the form of “culture

ment” by Guy Debord and Gil J Wolman. Détournement is a

jamming”, where standardized commercial and promotional

practices are subverted by campaigns such as Adbusters’ “Buy

Designers can and do make use of parody and—as Limor

Nothing Day”. I would argue that these approaches are ulti-

Fried calls it—”design noir”.

mately self-defeating because they are so easily re-integrated into a corporate agenda.

The work in this book are speculations which use as their foundations the work of others. They share a purpose to sat-

Culture jamming (a 21st-century phenomena) is not

irize, and not lecture, but their point is not to merely elicit

mentioned in “A User’s Guide”, but the concept of parody—

laughter. Nor are they intended to be didactic or by frontal

which is discussed early on in the “A User’s Guide”—has been

attack attempt to batter down the walls of our credulity. Each

quite recently exercised, for example, in the “Hitler meme”

work seeks, with subtlety, to “express our indifference toward

of countless YouTube videos using the movie “Downfall”. In

a meaningless and forgotten original, and concern itself with

these works, a portion of the movie where Hitler rants emo-

rendering a certain sublimity.” (Debord, 1967). This book’s

tionally about his Generals’ incompetence and perfidy (which

design projects and accompanying essays serve to demon-

is filmed with actors speaking German) is re-subtitled with text

strate the range of speculative concepts that can be released

that might lead non-German speakers to believe that Hitler

in a single spasm: “Taking Hostages: Exercises in Design Dé-

tirade is actually about a lost football match, or the use of the

tournement” includes, among others, Joseph Rau’s tree de-

“Comic Sans” font in Nazi propaganda, or how to find a tub

sign which lampoons designers’ inability to leave well-enough

of ice cream in war-ravaged Berlin. This phenomena gained

alone, Hodgkinson and Cianci’s pop-up store for garbage,

its counter-culture cred when the movie ’s copyright holder

Martyn Anstice’s hand-crafted newspaper, and Kevin Dahi’s

exercised “YouTube takedown” actions, only to reverse them

Syrian T-55 tanks, détourned into ambulances.

a few months later after an extensive internet brouhaha. Another recent example of contemporary détournement is Limor Fried’s “TV-B-Gone”, which is a powerful

Have I bored you sufficiently? Then I shall leave you with the parting words from “A User’s Guide to Détournement”. Enjoy.

infrared TV remote which allows the operator to switch off

In itself, the theory of détournement scarcely interests us.

a television—or otherwise “jam” it—surreptitiously and

But we find it linked to almost all the constructive aspects of

anonymously from a distance, or her “Wave Bubble”, a (com-

the presituationist period of transition. Thus its enrichment,

pletely illegal to use) RF jammer that prevents cellphone use.

through practice, seems necessary.

These are just a few more current examples of détournement.

We will postpone the development of these theses until later. —Debord, Wolman, 1956

Martyn Anstice Design Détournement of the Newspaper

Historically and politically newspapers can be viewed as powerful methods of promoting and distributing a capitalist message. They have often been criticized for having a rightwing or conservative bias, “the form of the news is never innocent or neutral” state Barnhurst and Nerone in The Form of the News (2001 p.9). Since newspapers rely on advertising revenue as a primary source of income ultimately they are unlikely to be very critical of the corporations who provide this revenue. This conflict is one of the core issues of the newspaper industry. While newspapers may be seen as important to society, “democracy is rooted in deliberation…and that newspapers help make deliberation possible” state Barnhurst and Nerone (p.1), their content is closely controlled by editors and owners. The concept and objective for this assignment is to divert the newspaper. The following discussion contains an examination of alternative newspaper content and the process of creating non-mechanical news forms. First is the research into the history of hand-drawn newspapers. This is followed by an analysis of alternative content; humourous, satirical and ironic stories, topics often absent from newspapers. Then secondly, the process of using this content to create a series of hand-drawn newspaper pages is discussed. The conclusion is an analysis of the design outcomes.

The Boston New-Letter (1704) is regarded as the first thriving newspaper in America

The devastating tsunami that hit northern Japan in 2010 left the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun newspaper without electricity, computers or presses

A brief overview of hand-drawn newspapers

Shimbun newspaper in Ishinomaki without electricity, and

Firstly, the research and investigation of non-mechanical

therefore computers and presses. Exploring ways to keep lo-

forms lead to many surprising and unexpected discoveries,

cal citizens informed the staff discussed a period before World

significantly, the history of hand-drawn newspapers. These

War II when the newspaper’s was banned and the reporters had

are documented at The Handwritten Newspapers Project, a

handwritten the newspaper at home. Inspired by this effort the

weblog hosted by Professor Roy Alden Atwood, the President

present-day journalists decided to create ‘wall papers’ using

at New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho. It states that

pen and paper. Six large newspapers were ready the following

the periodicals are “a testament to the universal journalistic

day were posted at shelters and convenience stores. The paper

impulse – the need to share news and information with others

issued 42 handwritten copies for six consecutive days until the

in a public setting. That impulse refuses to be constrained by

power resumed (Higgins 2011). Next, the Musalman is a daily

mere convention or technology” (Atwood 2012). The earliest

newspaper from Chennai, India; founded in 1927 it is consid-

reference to handmade news is the Acta Diurna (Latin: Daily

ered the last hand-drawn newspaper in the world. The paper is

Acts) beginning 59 BC to circa AD 222. These were daily Ro-

sold for one cent and has a circulation of 20,000. Produced by

man official notices, a type of gazette, carved on stone or metal

a team of six, four are katibs – writers dedicated to the ancient

and displayed in public areas. Another example is The Boston

art of Urdu calligraphy. It takes three hours per page and if a

News-Letter that is regarded as the first thriving newspaper in

mistake is made the whole page is rewritten. Unfortunately

America. From 1704 to 1722, editor John Campbell, the local

Musalman’s future is uncertain because the art of Urdu cal-

Postmaster, produced a printed newsletter, however, for the

ligraphy is a quickly fading tradition (Carney 2007).

first four years it was handwritten in the style of common Eu-

ropean newssheets that existed prior to the invention of print-

News Gathering and Hand-Drawing

ing. According to Atwood the newsletter was in great demand

Secondly, to divert the news content, a series of alternative

and to relieving the pressure upon Campbell he enlisted his

news stories, humourous, satirical and ironic in tone has been

brother, Duncan, to help but found they could still not write

gathered. The primary source for these stories is the online

longhand quickly enough (2012).

journals such as The Onion, News Biscuit, The Spoof and

Two more recently examples of the hand-drawn newspa-

News Mutiny. Some of the content is factual and from the reg-

per are from Japan and India. The devastating tsunami that

ular press, for example the ‘Pizza as a Vegetable,’ ‘Policeman,’

hit northern Japan on March 11, 2010 left the Ishinomaki Hibi

‘Syrian 12345’ and the Twitter McDStories are true. The text

message piece from Failblog is also real. The Area 51 advert

In conclusion, the handcrafted method challenges cur-

and the Dyslexic Sudoku are both fabricated. The box text is

rent accepted methods of news production and provides an

taken from Chuck Palahniuk’s seminal novel Fight Club. This

interesting approach for future design assignments. This also

novel is a biting satire of consumer capitalism and it seemed

brings the common method of using a computer as a design

appropriate to display it as packaging.

tool into question as the hand-drawn method provides a less

The next objective is to divert the newspaper form. As objects newspapers are highly mechanized and rely on print

restrictive process, while time consuming that can lead in many unexpected and surprisingly creative directions.

and digital technology. The decision to create hand-drawn newspaper pages is far removed from the industrialized method. Three pages have been created using non-newspaper-like decorative and floral resources for visual inspiration. For example, the masthead illustration is adapted from a wallpaper pattern by William Morris of the English Arts & Craft movement. The work of Canadian typographer/calligrapher, Mariam Bantjes was also used as a resource as were the antique book fleurons. The text construction was a major decision and for expediency’s sake a computer was used to plan the pages but still every letter is hand-drawn. The intension was not to copy or imitate text typesetting but to use a loose, informal lettering-style that in some instances becomes calligraphic. While mistakes and errors were unavoidable it is believed that this adds to the human character of the pieces. The only mechanical objects used were a light-box and a ruler. The process proved to be physically, mentally and time intensive with each page taking approximately three to four hours to complete. As a further experiment a deconstructed fourth page was also created.


Atwood, Roy Alden (2012, January). The Handwritten Newspapers Project. Retrieved from Higgins, Andrew (2011, March 21). “In Ishinomaki, news comes old-fashioned way: Via paper.” Washington Post (web edition). Retrieved from Carney, Scott (2007, June). “A Handwritten Daily Paper in India Faces the Digital Future.” Wired. Retrieved from calligraphers Barnhurst, Kevin, and John Nerone (2001). The Form of the News. New York: Guildford Press

The Musalman daily newspaper from Chennai, India is considered the last hand-drawn newspaper in the world

The Hand-drawn Newspaper: front page

The Hand-drawn Newspaper: page two

The Hand-drawn Newspaper: page three

The Hand-drawn experimental deconstructed newspaper page

Kevin Dahi The Tank: Détourned

In The World’s Armored Fighting Vehicles, a tank is defined as “a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for frontline combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities. Firepower is normally provided by a large-calibre main gun in a rotating turret and secondary machine guns. Heavy armour and all-terrain mobility provide protection for the tank and its crew” (von Senger Und Etterlin, 1960).

Russians have been making a wide range of tanks, of which


the Russian tank T-62 is a good example. One of the largest markets for these tanks is the Middle East, Syria in particular. Syria ordered 500 tanks from the Soviet Union in 1973, and 200 from Libya in 1978. In 1982, Syria ordered a further 300

mediterranean sea

tanks from the Soviet Union (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2011). Thus, as of 2005, Syria had 1,000 T-62s in service (Syria–Army Equipment). Unfortunately, the Syrian regime has been using these and other types of Rus-

Syria Lebanon

sian tanks against its own people. Syria originally ordered these tanks as a defence against


its traditional enemy, Israel, which regularly orders US-made M48 Patton tanks. Israel used the M48s in 1976 against another


of its neighbouring countries, Jordan, which is also a steady buyer of the M48 Patton tanks. Moreover, M48 Patton tanks



were used by the Lebanese Army, the South Lebanon Army and other Lebanese militias in the Lebanese Civil War between 1975 and 1990 (Syria–Army Equipment). According to the Stockholm International Peace Research


Institute, military expenditure was estimated to be $1,630


billion in 2010, which represents a real-terms increase of

Jordan $1,363,000,000

Military expenditure in four Middle Eastern countries as of 2010

1.3% over 2008 and a 50% increase since 2001. The top five spenders are the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia, and tank manufacturing makes up a

saudi arabia

sizeable portion of their investment. For instance, in 2010, the Syrian military’s expenditure was US$2.2 billion, Israel’s was US$13 billion, Jordan’s was US$1.3 billion, and Lebanon’s was US$1.5 billion (SIPRI, 2011).

The tank has played a dominant role in the visual literature that has been produced since the start of the Syrian uprising. It represents the military force of the ruling regime, and many artists, especially caricaturists, have made fun of the Syrian tanks being used against the Syrian civilians instead of against Syria’s traditional enemy, Israel. Last September, a Red Crescent volunteer in the city of Homs was killed by a bullet inside an ambulance while he was helping some injured people (Reuters News Agency, 2012). This incident posed a question: what if tanks were ambulances? What if armoured live-saving vehicles were let into the effected neighbourhoods of Homs instead of armoured vehicles of destruction?

A caricature by Isam Ahmad. The sign to the left points to the Israeli-Occupied Golan Heights, while the Syrian Regime’s Tank, instead, is headed to the besieged Syrian town of Dera’a.

What if the tank is détourned to be a tracked, armoured vehicle which combines operational mobility and tactical defensive capabilities designed to save lives? Heavy armour and all-terrain mobility provides protection for the tank and its crew.

How Many Blood Bags? Artist Amjad Abu Wardeh Oil painting

The production cost for a Russian T-62 is estimated at around US$4 million, and the cost for a US M48 Patton is around US$5.5 million. Conversely, a brand new GMC G4500


Braun Ambulance is priced at US$129,900.


M48 Patton




M48 Patton

The idea for this détournement was conceived after

For this project, two tanks were chosen – the Russian-

looking at the current situation in Syria, which includes the

made M-62, and the American-made M48 Patton. As explained

deployment of hundreds of military tanks into Syrian cities.

earlier, these two types of tanks are very “common” in Middle

These tanks are not only destroying properties and homes,

East countries. The visual distortion (Debord & Wolman,

they are also wounding and killing many civilians. In the

1965) of the détourned tanks was twofold: first, the removal

midst of this situation, no ambulances are being allowed

of the guns, and second, the painting of the tank in white and

into the destroyed neighbourhoods to save the lives of the

red, similar to ambulances. One of the tanks is détourned to be

injured. Moreover, the wounded people are not allowed to

a Red Cross ambulance and the second a Red Crescent. The

go to hospitals but instead are taken to field clinics that offer

cross and crescent represent the two major Syrian religious

only basic supplies and equipment.

affiliations – Christianity and Islam, respectively. The pictures used in the backdrop were chosen from a Syrian context. The one in the centre shows three Russianmade tanks in the city of Homs. The other two pictures show injured people getting treatment in temporary field clinics. In conclusion, the aim of the détournement project was to ask a simple question, yet the answer is not so simple: instead of investing in killing machines, like tanks, would it not be better to invest in products that contribute to the growth and healing of humanity, like ambulances?

What if the tank is dĂŠtourned to be a tracked, armoured vehicle which combines operational mobility and tactical defensive capabilities designed to save lives?


Debord, G., & Wolman, G. J. (1965). A User’s Guide to Détournement. Retrieved March 13, 2102, from Bureau of Public Secrets: http://www. Reuters News Agency. (2012, January 2012). Red Crescent official shot dead in Syria—ICRC. Retrieved March 7, 2012, from The Star: http:// Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (2011, April 11). Background paper on SIPRI military expenditure data, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2012, from SIPRI: Syria—Army Equipment. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2012, from Global Security: von Senger Und Etterlin, F. M. (1960). The world’s armored fighting vehicles. London: Macdonald & Co. Ltd.

Image Credits Syrian government tanks, in the streets of Bab Amr, near the city of Homs, on February 12, 2012. (Reuters/Mulham Alnader) # Wounded men are seen in the Sunni Muslim district of Bab Amro in Homs in this photo received on February 8, 2012. (Reuters) A badly injured man lies in a bed at a makeshift clinic in the Syrian city of Idlib, on February 24, 2012. (Bulent Kilic/ AFP/Getty Images)

Shu (Grace) Fang

Landscape painting detournement


A long time ago, there was a very beautiful place full of mysterious forests and rivers. Life lived in harmony and peace with its surroundings. During the day, horses in pairs pulled loads of hay across the river. White clouds of flowers in full bloom seemed to drift above green fields, and trees swayed like happy dancing elves. At night, river water sparkled in the moonlight, reflecting the warm lights of family homes tucked into nearby forest hollows. The artist John Constable (1776-1837) painted this beautiful, romantic place nearly two centuries ago (The Lilypad, 2012). Today, this type of natural beauty is being destroyed all over the world, whether by the hand of man or by some-

The Haywain (finished in 1821) by John Constable, is probably one of the most famous English paintings.

thing else. Rachel Carson, in her book Silent Spring (1962), is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement and inspiring widespread public concern about pollution. It describes a similar scene about how natural and balanced beauty could disappear in less than a century. Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community, mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens; the cattle and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death. The farmers spoke of much illness among their families. In the town the doctors had become more and more puzzled by new kinds of sickness appearing among their patients. There had been several sudden and unexplained deaths,

The site where The Haywain was painted, as it exists in 2010, where it is primarily a tourist destination.

only among adults but even among children, who would be

Environmental pollution is a wide-reaching problem. It not

stricken suddenly while at play and die within a few hours.

only destroys our beautiful planet, but also seriously affects

In many cases, people can only watch helplessly as their

human health. For instance, thousands of Britons die from air

beautiful world is destroyed, and then afterwards they can

pollution every year, with the urban poor communities being

only regret the loss. Once vibrant spaces may become for- hit the hardest (The Independent, 2011). Moreover, treating

Landscape painting détournement: #1 Being Stuck In This Somber and Smoggy City

bidden and isolated areas with warning signs and sharp and

victims of Britain’s dirty air for lung and heart diseases costs

dangerous wire fences prohibiting human access. The word

as much as £20bn every year (The Independent, 2011).

“Dangerous!”, highlighted in garish red, makes it seem that

Another huge problem is garbage. To highlight the scope

horrible, frightening monsters must live there now, like in the

of the problem, California alone spends $28 million a year

movies – biochemically altered humans, or giant spiders and

cleaning up and removing litter from its roadways. Moreover,

crocodiles. (Carson, 2002)

the wind and weather move litter from streets and highways

This design project detournes our romantic vision of nat- to parks and waterways. One study found that 18 percent of ural landscape to satirize the huge ecological problems that we ignore in daily life. Through a critical eye, my work compares the romantic vision of old masters landscape paintings with our contemporary environment. I wish to arouse a fresh realization as it relates to our living situation, life styles, personalities, and use of technology. BEING STUCK IN THIS SOMBER AND SMOGGY CITY

The first and second designs illustrate a pure natural environment that has been damaged by several of the problems that are typical of modern cities. These include automobile emissions, deforestation and industrial pollution. The detournement itself here exaggerates a polluted situation in order to Landscape painting détournement: #2 Being Stuck In This Somber and Smoggy City

express how terrible the environmental outcome can be if humans continue to pollute at the current level.

litter ends up in rivers, streams and oceans (Earth Talk, 2012).


are striving to introduce new city planning policies, such as


constructing high-density neighbourhoods to prevent urban

The third design work also highlights city problems that neg-

sprawl. Hasty planning and construction also does not guar-

atively affect the ecological balance. Similar to the situation

antee a safe building project or an organic living experience

described in the previous section, this design part shows an

for the residents of the new artificial environment. Nature is

overwhelmed urban transportation space where there is little

irretrievably ruined by the use of materials that are incompat-

room for ‘green’ spaces in the narrow streets. The popula-

ible with beauty and harmony. New city planning policies also

tion explosion renders the city system paralyzed and chaotic,

bring challenges to the transportation system, making it dif-

causing everything from frustrating traffic jams to dangerous

ficult for buses to maneuver and for cars to find parking spaces

pedestrian conditions.

(Earth Talk, 2012).

Another factor that accelerates pollution in urban and subLandscape painting détournement: #3 Population Explosion Bombing Our Urban Transportation System

urban areas is the rapidly increasing human population. Ac- WHAT DO HUMAN BEINGS TAKE FROM AND BRING TO cording to Population Connection, population growth since NATURE EVERYDAY 1950 is responsible for the clearing of 80 percent of rainforests, This design asks if we realize how much we take from and the loss of tens of thousands of plant and wildlife species, the bring to nature every day. The design itself is inspired by the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and the development or

arts and craft movement: Cutting-out the original landscape

commercialization of as much as half of the Earth’s surface

painting is a metaphor for our plundering of nature’s resourc-

land. Despite this large-scale planned destruction, we demand

es. Little is left to posterity.

still more of our collective resources without thinking about whether nature can really provide it. Some experts fear that, in the coming decades, half of the world’s population will be exposed to “water-stress” or “water-scarce” conditions, which are expected to “intensify difficulties in meeting... consumption levels, and wreak devastating effects on our delicately balanced ecosystems” (Earth Talk, 2012). Landscape painting détournement: #4 What Do Human Beings Take From and Bring To Nature Everyday

To improve the living situation of those affected by the population explosion, governments around the world are


We now have more opportunity than ever before to choose what kind of living style we prefer. But our choices are rarely in balance with nature. In the modern city, people ’s lifestyles have been radically changed by technologies and inventions like books, video games and television. These new gadgets bring enormous profits to the companies that own and produce them, yet many who use them become lazy and self-isolated. We become so immersed in the technology that we do not even notice there is an outside environment, let alone care about it. Such a mindset can make people feel irresponsible about doing something to help resolve environmental problems. The poster in left bottem presents how some people ignore the environmental issues by living in their magical and fictional landscape created by technology. The final detournement is a landscape pop-up book which is inspired by the previous poster. More and more, we escape to our beautified fictional virtual worlds co-created by technology and our own self-deception. The book cover is a ruse to make readers think it is an ordinary book of romantic landscape paintings. People firstly can be attracted by John Constable ’s work and may not wait to see other wonderful pages inside the book. However, when the book is opened, it immeLandscape painting détournement #5 Pop up book A “Dreaming” Space In Landscape Painting :

diately reveals a polluted, dirty and terrible three-dimensional scene. The three-dimensional craft pieces are pasted above the original landscape painting that is stuck inside the book

inside the book as a plane template. This design is a chance to speak loudly to the public about the desecration of their natural environment. It aims to wake up more citizens to save their living environment. Even though humans today can still see wonderful landscape sights, a tragedy may happen just in the next second. As a detournement, this design also conveys a deeper meaning – that the earth’s environmental structure and system have already been eroded. The earth is becoming more sick everyday, but instead of trying to heal it, we simply ignore the signs, cover them over, or let ourselves be consumed by distractions that do not leave us time to ponder the earth’s (and therefore our own) destruction.

Landscape painting détournement #5 Pop up book A “Dreaming” Space In Landscape Painting

Today, when people see the wonderful landscape paintings


created many years ago, they might not imagine that such

Carson, R. (2002). Silent spring. New York, NY: The New Yorker.

beauty was once real and everywhere. Maybe some day, many

Earth Talk. (2012). How global population growth is creating serious environmental problems. Retrieved from http://environment.about. com/od/biodiversityconservation/a/population_grow.htm

years into the future, if people go to an art gallery expecting to see beautiful works by landscape painters, they might instead find ugliness, if today’s artists paint only what is real to them.

Earth Talk. (2012). Litter trashes the environment. Retrieved from litter.htm The Lilypad. (2012). The Haywain. Retrieved from The Independent. (2011). Tens of thousands at risk over UK air pollution. Retrieved from

Ingres found inspiration looking back in history while Delacroix charged forward into the unknown. [Left] Detail of Bathing Woman (Baigneuse de Valpincon), Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1806. ARTstor 1039902284 [Right] Detail of Liberty Leading the People (July 28th 1830), Eugène Delacroix, 1830. ARTstor 1039490420

Ian Grivois THE Affordances of Imagination

What is possible? This is a question that rests at the heart of

conflict from art history that took shape in the 1800s. One pole

every revolution—the knowledge that there can be something

of thought can be seen in the art of Jean-Auguste-Dominique

more, something better. This yearning struggle against the

Ingres (1780-1867), who was considered a neo-classicist. The

status quo appears in many social movements throughout his-

clarity of his precise drawing style matched his rationality of

tory. By looking at these historic patterns, particularly in the

his art that dealt the classic themes of painting: portraits, al-

French intellectual movement called Situationist International

legory, and history. His antithesis took shape in the form of

(1957-1972), we will find methods to reexamine our current

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). Besides his innovations in

life and visually test these on common Internet memes. The

developing colour theory for painting, Delacroix was a re-

contrast of “virtual reality” is rich territory to explore.

bellious romantic. Rather than the clean and rational line of

The struggle between looking back in history for inspi-

Ingres, passion, movement and dramatic themes characterize

ration and cutting free for new inspiration can be seen in a

his work. His painting of Liberty leading the people captured

“Brasília was one of the modern movement’s most extraordinary achievements, and such was despised by the situationists” (Sadler, 1998). [Left] A situationist psychogeographic map: Life continues to be free and easy, Guy Debord, 1959. (Sadler, 1998) [Right] A model of the city, Brasília, Photo: Ian Grivois, 2010

the romantic aspirations of the French revolution, regardless of its violent conclusions. This idea of revolutionary frustrations building to a crisis point found an echo in France during May of 1968. Wildcat union strikes and student riots created a brief social explosion, stemming from the Situationist International led by Guy Debord. This movement itself originated from two sources: the French Lettrists, a movement similar to Dada and Surrealism, and the Imaginist Bauhaus, a reactionary Italian movement revolting against the rigid ideas of modernism. Just like the dichotomy between Ingres and Delecroix, the ideas of rational modernism and the Situationist International form a counterpoint. Debord was a Marxist theorist, writer, and filmmaker whose book Society of the Spectacle (1967) outlined a path to reclaiming creative awareness. He outlined his goals by writing, “Of all the affairs we participate in, with or without interest, the groping search for a new way of life is only the aspect still im-

subversive juxtapositions. “The discoveries of modern poetry

The new psychogeographies originating from these wan-

passioning” (Debord, 1955, para. 1). The movement contended

regarding the analogical structure of images demonstrate that

ders and techniques of diverting corporate visuals resulted in

that corporate and state interests had hijacked society and that

when two objects are brought together, no matter how far

artistic works that subverted social norms. The ideas of the

lived-experience was exchanged for the influence of a seductive

apart their original contexts may be, a relationship is always

Situationists would appear in the contemporary work of Mar-

spectacle. Desire had been transmuted into consumption.

formed” (Debord & Wolman, 1956, para. 5).

shall McLuhan and later in the culture-jamming designs of

The Situtationist International movement advocated two

The dérive was a way of re-imagining the city, a wander

techniques for people to rediscover their passion and personal

with no goals other than to follow what attracts and to avoid

The dérive and détournement are methods that can be ap-

awareness. These were the détournement and dérive, which

what repulses. It was designed to create a new picture of the

plied to modern concerns. Like the modern city, the Internet

translate as “diversion” and “drift.”

environment we live in. The same motivation is seen in paths

is a type of psychogeography that embodies our desires. Also

of desire, which are routes defined by people cutting corners

like the modern city, the Internet is just as susceptible to the

when sidewalks do not follow the most direct route.

corrupting forces of corporations, seducing users with a spec-

Détournement was a way of taking popular culture and subverting it through satire. Popular culture is re-imagined by

Adbusters magazine.

tacle that replaces lived-experience. This is even more evident

ed as agents that deaden our minds. Instead they become play-

when we examine how computer users interact: physically iso-

ful material to daily renew our sights seen and sites travelled.

lated yet connected through devices. Surfing becomes a type

Debord’s idea that the Situationist’s practices would be like a

of wander, though we perhaps have lost our consciousness of

potlatch (1955), giving gifts to others, reveals the affordances

this process. Ubiquitous computing is now taken for granted.

of imagination.

The memes, “those behavioral and cultural systems learned through experience and imitation” (K. Barber [Ed.], 2007), are so natural that we no longer notice them. Metaphoric icons of the desktop have become part of our natural cognitive flow to accomplish tasks on the computer. We are told that this is a ‘metaphor’ for a ‘desktop.’ But I have never personally seen a desktop where pointing at a lower piece of paper makes it jump to the top, or where placing a sheet of paper

References (2007). K. Barber (Ed.), Student’s Oxford Canadian Dictionary (2nd ed.). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. Debord, G. E. (1955). Introduction to a critique of urban geography. Retrieved from display/2 Debord, G. E., & Wolman, G. J. (1956). A user’s guide to détournement. Retrieved from

on top of a file folder caused the folder to gobble it up; I do not be-

Meadows, M.K. (2003). Pause & effect: The art of interactive narrative. Indianapolis, Indiana: New Riders.

lieve such desks exist; and I do not think I would want one if it did.

Sadler, S. (1998). The situationist city. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

~ Ted Nelson 

(as cited in Meadows, 2003, p. 32)

So let us employ the methods of the dérive and détournement on the memes of the Internet. By bringing these icons of the virtual world along on a wander through the real world, we can re-imagine our environment in a new context. We will look at five different aspects of computer-mediated interaction. Through the Situationist techniques of détournement and dérive, we are able to retake our imaginative landscape. We can detour together from the expected path. Corporate interests, a cluttered visual culture, and warning signs are subvert-

Wikipedia (2012). Guy Debord. Retrived from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Guy_Debord

Google is the dominant search engine on the Internet. For decades they have had an “I Feel Lucky” button for the surfers who are confident that the first search result is the one they want—it sends you directly to the result rather than showing all options. It’s the virtual equivalent of leap-before-you-look. Here luck and searching take on a new meaning through a new context.

Facebook, the dominant social destination for nearly one billion people globally, is a site where people connect and share. Facebook’s “like� button records and shares our interests. They are votes, reinforced paths of attention, but here it is the camera that records approval rather than a corporation.

The metaphors of a computer adopt spacial and visual cues that communicate the affordances of the programs. When an arrow turns into a finger we know that we can click. It’s by keying into our real world sense-memories that we know what direction to go and where to click.

Email is now one of the common ways that we communicate with each other. It has in many respects supplanted the personality, character, and warmth of the written letter. Here we use a simple sight gag to throw this idea into relief. One wishes there was an equivalent to the “beware of dog� sign for spam.

The final visual experiment that we will look at has to do with pop-up windows and warnings. With the simple addition of a close button we seem able to clean the clutter of our real environment just as easily as our virtual. The ubiquitous warning signs and billboard advertisements can be closed with a touch‌if only it was so easy.

leeandra cianci & carley hodgkinson la belle poubelle

‘Cities should generate, reflect, and activate life, their environment organised to precipitate life and movement. Situation – the happenings within spaces in the city, the transient throwaway objects, the passing presence of cars and people – is an important, possibly more important, than the built demarcation of space ’. (Archigram 1963, 112, as cited in Pinder, 2011) Introduction

La Belle Poubelle launched its one and only installation store Monday, March 5, 2012, in the Dawson Print Shop on the NSCAD campus. La Belle Poubelle strove to be the ultimate send-up of a pop-up store: in place of branded merchandise in an elite, aesthetically privileged space, the store offered packaged garbage, in a different kind of elite, privileged space. A pop-up store is a marketing strategy in which an unoccupied space is co-opted temporarily as a short term storefront for a particular retail outlet. Roots, L’Aigle and Hermès are all examples of clothing and lifestyle brands that have staged pop-up stores within the last couple of years. The Roots (RootsxDouglasCoupland ) July 2010 pop-up store in Vancouver was particularly ambitious in its branding: artist and writer Douglas Coupland designed the store and his own signature line of products (Rowland, 2010). The basic premise of a pop-up was the meat to détourne both the overt commercialism and the (often) stringent overdesign. Of course, the intent is just the tiniest bit hypocritical here, the authors themselves being huge design snobs – but,

La Belle Poubelle launch Jars, boxes and postcards in place.

in terms of taking on a couple of major cultural tropes, buying stuff and marketing stuff, a pop-up garbage dump seemed to hit Situationist gold. In place of monetary exchange, items were available for trade, drawing primarily on the Situationist practice of play, a practice explored in Constant’s New Babylon projects, in which he “imagined an entirely new landscape for the earth, one devoted entirely to play” (Wark, 2008, ¶1). John Huizinga’s 1938 text Homo Ludens (“Playing Man”) proved to be a seminal text for both Constant and, later, for Matta-Clark (Attlee & Le Feuvre, 2003). Huizinga wrote about his underlying theory for “a new model of humanity centred on play” (29). La Belle Poubelle drew equally from Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1970 installation project Garbage Wall, “which was built on a

Top: Constant Nieuwenhuys, New Babylon Amsterdam, 1963 Bottom: Gordon Matta-Clark, Garbage Wall, 1970

street by passers-by who were invited to deposit urban debris into a waiting mould” (Budney, 2002, 15). Once built, the wall was then used as a backdrop for performances based on everyday activities. In these and other architectural deconstructions, Matta-Clark questioned the inherent cultural value placed on built structures, essentially creating his own style of détournement. Matta-Clark spoke often about the value of the Situationist Spectacle, as a means of railing against what he perceived as a “carefully sustained mass schizophrenia in which our individual perceptions are being subverted by industrially controlled media, markets and corporate interests” (Attlee & Le Feuvre, 2003, 26). La Belle Poubelle launch Dawson Print Shop, NSCAD

The location

is hand-rendered to get at some of the underlying imperfec-

Initially, all efforts were directed toward finding an unused

tions, and then reproduced as a stamp, to do the whole meta bit,

commercial space as the perfect staging ground for La Belle

a copy of a copy of a copy. The fancy, and fanciful, qualities

Poubelle, a space on street level that was within mixed com- of the wordmark are anchored against very strict modernist

Reaching for the proverbial dream: a garbage outing in Halifax.

pany with other shopping and entertainment options. This

design in some of the printed pieces: harsh, large print Hel-

is the mark of a true pop-up store, and became the project

vetica, black-and-white photos, and the performance personas,

Achilles heel. The first few attempts were denied, the best,

strict-looking art-trash-curator-technicians.

and most promising being a storefront Roy Building window.

The store desperately needed visitors to ensure the suc-

Imagination ran wild with this storefront: the easy attraction

cess of the installation and performance: Mondays are open-

of a number of diverse passersby, with the double whammy of

ing nights at NSCAD’s neighboring gallery space the Anna

injecting a bit of culture into an otherwise dead zone of Bar- Leonoweons, so that was a start. Beyond that, the inevitable rington Street. In the end, with only a couple of weeks to plan

social media campaign: Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook pages

and prepare, the Dawson ended up being the best bet. Staging

were all rolled out in advance of the evening. Through the

this type of installation at an art school in part already defeats

Facebook invite, La Belle Poubelle inadvertently caught some

some of the potential for really seductive dĂŠtournement given

press: CH and LC were interviewed and featured in the Art

the essentially captive audience, one that won’t be fazed by

Attack! section of The Coast on Thursday, March 1. Though

fake art. The other side to that argument, of course, is that an

predicting a cult following on Twitter, the project landed

audience of visually astute artists and designers may not be

25 followers over the course of the two weeks leading up to

particularly impressed or willing to play.

the event. A sad showing, perhaps, but still generating a small

The store design itself started with a clear vision: ster- amount of local traction. On both the Twitter and Tumblr

Art Attack! article in The Coast, March 1, 2012, featuring La Belle Poubelle. In character. Top right: La Belle Poubelle postcards with QR code, copy and sample jar photos in place.

ile, and all-white, where everything on the surface appears

pages, teaser campaigns provided hints at the nature of the

beautiful and culturally coded; only when you get closer, and

evening, with jar and location photos, jar narratives, pithy

look into the jars do you see hints of colour, hints of text,

garbage quotes, and an all-out call for treasured trash.

hints of rotting organic matter. The name La Belle Poubelle is the first detail that automatically gives away the nature of the project: at once descriptive but ridiculous, charming but nose-wrinkling, too. The wordmark, swirly and faux-French,

Right: sample tweets from @bellepoubelle_ (top: mr. pants pukes haiku, bottom: live customer tweet)

The set-up

The aftermath

Forty-six jars were laid out, numbered, each with short de- CH: LeeAndra, do you think that people understood what we were scriptions of location, and a brief narrative of the jar’s con- trying to achieve, with the whiteness, and the performance aspects, tents. The narrative was meant to be playful and evocative,

and the quasi-serious/quasi-questioning bits? What would we

getting at the romance, or the quality of memory or value

change (if anything) for next time?

inherent in any object.

LC: Most people seemed to see the beauty in the ‘whiteness’ of the garbage, and participated fully in the universally under-

L. Cianci and C. Hodgkinson, proprietors. Looking mean. Live tweet station and jar merchandise also featured.

The deal

stood rituals of shopping at a store. Participants also seemed to

Each jar was available for trade. The trade could take the form

enjoy picking out their favorite jars – but what was interesting

of an object exchange or the form of trade for an activity. The

was how they picked them out. Some people chose the jars

activities included: a character assessment, a psychological

purely for the object within, some people went through each

examination, an emotional intelligence examination, an as-

tag reading the story behind the jar and chose that way. I think

sessment of current emotional status, a riddle, or the compo- most people found the questions fun/funny but some seemed sition of an original Haiku. If we were questioning the value initially intimidated or uninterested. People really seemed and meaning of the packaged garbage, could we not then by

to enjoy seeing what other participants brought in for trade,

extension question our customers’ character, their emotional

and there were some great items! Maybe if we were to do this

states, their abilities to construct haiku? The intention with

again we could have advertised the trading aspect more clearly.

the jar of possibilities was not to embarrass La Belle Poubelle’s guests, but to create an off-kilter participatory moment as much as with the exchange of actual goods. We had taken on these roles as pseudo-experts, pseudo-scientists, and why not pseudo-therapists?

CH: What was your favourite trade of the evening? Your favourite live tweet? LC: It is hard to choose! I would have to say that the “guy from the bar’s” phone number was a pretty hot item. My favorite live tweet was: “@bellepoubelle_ icecream in a jar, not a cone”.

Happy, delighted customers! Each jar was numbered with a short description of the location where the garbage was found and a brief narrative about the jar contents.

Clockwise from right: “My son” found passport photo; Curling for hemophilia trophy; “the boy from the bar” phone number. All were items traded for jars.

CH: Did anything truly unexpected happen that surprised and delighted you? The cute couple who came in because they saw us in the Coast were the most delightful. Then even more to my surprise the girl was quite eager to do a ‘haiku’ for us, and even perform it! It went like this: paint brush, white, empty, sounding, jar, far, empty, room, mr. pants, pukes. * mr. pants pukes was the best part

CH: What is our next collaboration? LC: What I propose (very sincerely) is a cross-Canada mail art project once you move back to Vancouver. It might go something like this: I send you a postcard with a sentence and then you have to draw what I wrote then you send me a postcard with a sentence and on and on for a determined time frame. And then we have a gallery show with all of the drawings and postcards together somewhere in the middle. CH: Is this all going on your Pinterest? LC: Duh. My pinterest is for all things awesome. And this was clearly awesome.

LC: What role do you think the white food spread played (if any)

LC: What was your favorite ‘task’ that participants had to do?

in the overall atmosphere of the shop?

Was there anything surprising in the answers?

CH: Ha ha! Good one, meals specialist. That’s a really great

CH: Ha ha! I do wish that we’d had more “results” to analyze...

question because I had imagined it in one way – as a continu- My favourite task, I do believe, and no one did it, so clearly ance of the overall store aesthetic, this sort of sweet designerly

not a winner, was “Character assessment”. The answers to the

food spread heaven, but, in fact, the white foods … perhaps

emotional intelligence examination were remarkably prescient.

were a turn-off? Although each food was in and of itself deli- When asked to describe their emotional responses to completely cious, as a set, the foods looked unappetizing, and perhaps not

strange, abstracted “Thought-form”paintings, 3 for 3 answered

integrated enough into the set-up. But – in terms of overall

within the realm of the intended answer. You can’t argue with

weirdness/memorability, the white foods made an impression.

Science. Those theosophists were on to something.

LC: Do you think the “live tweet” station worked out well? What

LC: Did you think that the packaging of the jars once they were

was your favorite tweet of the night?

bought had a big effect on the overall experience?

CH: The live tweet station was an excellent idea, but I wonder

CH: Yes! I mean that’s really part of the shopping experience,

if it would have worked better projected (much like the craft

the fetishizing/gift aspect of a shiny new thing. The packag-

show set-up from last September in the Anna). Then the per- ing also communicated a responsiveness to and respect for the

The spread at the La Belle Poubelle launch: white foods, with the doily your grandmother used for trade. Top right: “Greed for drink”, a 1901 thought-form painting used as an assessment of emotional intelligence; at left, the response to the thought-form.

fomative aspects of the tweet could be seen immediately, and

participation. We were asking something strange, and possi-

experienced by the guest tweeter (tweetee)? Also, maybe one

bly making our customers uncomfortable, but we sealed the

too many things to ask of our guests in such a small space? I

transaction with a gift.

dunno… an early adopter like our friend MP took to it like a fly to honey, but perhaps we needed to refine the call-to-action. My fave? Same as yours, for sure!

LC: What do you think our next collaboration will be!? CH: Ooh... LeeAndra, it’s got to be a book … I have this vision of some kind of Uppercase Magazine-published artist

LC: If you had to pick a favorite traded item what would it be?

book, with writing and illustrations and travels. Though per-

CH: Total toss-up here between the found “my son” passport

haps your idea of the mail-art could in fact be the content?

photo and the curling for hemophilia trophy. Both were such genius because they captured effortlessly the whole gestalt of the evening and were as playful, ridiculous, and as narratively captivating as our jarred white garbage.

CH: One last question to conclude our write-up – assuming we could


Budney, J. (2005). Social space and participation. In J. Budney, J. & A.Blackwell (Eds.), Unboxed : engagements in social space (pp.11–16). Ottawa:Gallery 101.

do this installation again, in an ideal space in some grand city with an unlimited budget, whom would you ask to guest-curate? LC: I would have to say Mierle Ukeles. She is the go-to art-

Pinder, D. (2011). Cities: moving, plugging in, floating, dissolving. In T. Cresswell & P. Merriman’s (Eds.), Geographies of mobilities: Practices, spaces, subjects (pp. ?). Surrey: Ashgate.

ist when it comes to sanitation and performance. I think she would bring a level of sincerity and seriousness to the project that would counteract the cutesy/ funny spin that we put on it.

Rowland, S. (2010). Douglas coupland goes techno-pop to punk up roots. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from vancouver/douglas-coupland-goes-technopop-punk-roots.

I imagine that she would make us visit all of the dumps in the HRM and get the employees to pick out the garbage for the jars. This would add a whole different layer to the meaning of

Wark, M. (2008). The game of war: Debord as strategist. Cabinet Magazine, 29 (Spring). Retrieved February 18, 2012 from

the performance. Plus she is awesome... CH: I would totally, and I mean TOTALLY, get Terence Koh on board. That guy is pure performance, with a whole side of kinky asian punk thrown in. He ’d put an entirely different spin on the performance: more challenging, more about the body and bodily secretions, and definitely not sweet the way ours ended up being. Edgy! And, of course, if Terence Koh curated, I imagine that Lady Gaga would be invited, launching us into Über-stardom.

A screen shot of La Belle Poubelle’s Tumblr; below, project parting words.

La Belle Poubelle launch Decisions, decisions.

List of trades.

The one and only participant-submitted found garbage.

Tumblr content Jar locations and narratives.

Tumblr content Jar locations and narratives.

Sample jars and their narratives.

Forgotten Valentine.

Container contained.

Fertilizer schmertilizer.

Yin Long

This détournement is presented in 3D renderings, showing

Iphone Icon Détournement

the icons of iPhone ’s application programs reintroduced and transferred into the real world. Détournement was developed in the 1950s and is still very influential in art and design. It is similar to satire and parody and expresses new meanings from the original works (Debord & Wolman, 1956). This form of expression relays such a strong message that people have difficulty forgetting it. It also contains the designer’s feelings and clear standpoints. This article discusses a détournement project that involves redesigned iPhone icons. These particular icons were selected for several reasons. First and foremost, the social effects of the iPhone are pervasive and ubiquitous in today’s global consumer society. Whether in Beijing or New York, many consumers prefer the iPhone to its competitors not only because of its sleek and stylish appearance and unique level of functionality, but also because it is perpetually the newest fashion trend. Generally speaking, many iPhone users want to have the latest iPhone that Apple releases (Gruber, 2012). Discussions about iPhones (including in serious academic studies) are popular topics as well. It is likely that very few people living on planet Earth today have not heard of the iPhone. Secondly, the iPhone is representative of smart phones and is replacing traditional cell phones and even home phones. IPhone ’s primary advantages are its unique programs and well-designed icons. Users can readily find the functions and games simply by reading the icons. For example, the icon for

IPhone 4S white: The iPhone and it’s application programs.

IPhone Icon Pack

“YouTube” is a cartoon-like image of a television, and is easily recognizable. Even for casual or first-time users, the iPhone is easy to operate simply by reading the icons. Many iPhone users appear to be unable to live without their iPhone. Wherever they go and whatever they do, they always keep the device in their hands, their eyes glancing at the screen. Although many iPhone addicts are unaware of their addiction, the reality is that they have disengaged from the Sketch one: A few icons were sketched and some connections were made between these icons and objects in real life.

real world and are living in a world of iPhone icons. It is now a common sight to see people sitting together and fiddling with their iPhones rather than talking to each other. For many users, the iPhone has taken on “partner” status, remaining close by their owners ‘side from morning till night’, and often even sharing their bed. Whether or not iPhone addiction is right or wrong is not the topic of this project. Rather, the goal here is to communicate the depth of the iPhone phenomenon not only in the lives of individual users but as a global meme that crosses social, cultural and psychological boundaries. As a first step of the design process, the iPhone icons were detourned and placed in people’s homes. The original icons were changed from 2D to 3D, with the aim of presenting them in the real world. The viewpoint of iPhone users was adopted to express how they see the world, which is essentially a surreal world. For many iPhone addicts, their sole pleasure is the iPhone, and everything else pales in comparison. The metaphor used here is that gray represents the meaninglessness of

the non-iPhone-related world. Therefore, in the détourne-

Figure 4: As the original icon of “Weather” is an image

ment work, all of the objects, except for the iPhone icons, are

of the Sun, it is redesigned in 3D format and becomes a ‘real’

presented in grey, highlighting the icons by contrast.

sun (i.e. the Sun as it appears in the sky). Another transforma-

Following some initial planning, a few icons were sketched

tion in the détournement is the icon “Notes” into a mattress.

and some connections were made between these icons and ob-

This is because the colours of “Notes” are akin to comfortable

jects in real life. The sketches show some transformations, and

fabrics, like on bed sheets.

the objects in the 3D world do not have the same functions as the icons. For instance, the “Calendar” could be transformed

Iphone Icons: Play with those icons and a lot of fun.

Figure 5: In this picture, the original icon of YouTube is transformed to a real television set.

into a bed, the “Camera” could be turned into a tea cup, and

Détourning flat icons from 2D into 3D is an interesting

the shape of the iPhone could become the door of people ’s

process, especially in light of how familiar things appear to


remain when they enter their new environment.

Figure 1: The image shows the shape of an iPhone becoming a door. It is a metaphor that means the phone itself is like an entryway to the room or ‘space ’ of the iPhone. It leads


people into the virtual realm of modern technology. When

Debord, G. & Wolman, G.J. (1956). A User’s Guide to Détournement. Retrieved from

people open the iPhone door, they open the door to the parallel reality that the iPhone both represents and creates. Figure 2: In this picture, the icons of “Calendar”, “Con-

Gruber, J. (2012). Cookies and Privacy. Retrieved from

tacts” and “Safari” are all in colour and placed with some decorations on a table. The détournement does not change the original functions of the iPhone programs. Instead, the redesign of the icons turns them into ordinary objects in people ’s Sketch two: People sitting together but fiddling with their iPhones rather than talking to each other.

lives, such as a real calendar, notebook or compass. Figure 3: Here, the icons become the real clock, email and calculator. They appear without changing the functions of the original designs. The icon of “Photo” undergoes an interesting transformation into a flower.

Images Iphone Icons. (2008). Retrieved March 14, 2012, from: http://www. IPhone 4S white. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from: com/iphone/specs.html IPhone Icon Pack. (2008). Retrieved March 13, 2012, from: http://

Figure one: The shape of an iPhone becoming a door.

Figure two: The redesign of the icons turns them into ordinary objects in people’s lives.

Figure three: The icons become the real clock, email and calculator.

Figure four: Icons in the bedroom.

Figure five: The original icon of YouTube is transformed to a real television set.

Stuart MCquarrie monopoly - fORECLOSURE edition

The world is witnessing a shift in economic ideology. The Capitalist system of the past is facing increased skepticism from the masses and society is realizing that the distribution of wealth and the income gap between the rich and the poor is widening. In 2008, the world witnessed one of the most severe stock market crashes since the Great Depression, resulting in a world wide financial crisis. The bursting of the US housing bubble between 2005–2006 is widely considered to be the trigger that caused this crisis, where millions of Americans lost their homes and life savings. The financial banking systems, with their predatory lending practices, have been identified as the root cause for inflating the housing bubble and causing a systemic failure of the banking system. This failure has been attributed to corruption and greed throughout the entire financial services industry. More recently, the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011 have raised awareness of the social and economic inequalities that have been building in Western society. The gap between the rich and the poor has grown even wider and the public outcry of this inequality has become louder. As a result, people throughout the world have taken to the streets to protest the failing capitalist system and joined forces to voice their concerns about the Capitalist economic system and its dysfunctional distribution of wealth.

Occupy Wallstreet Poster Poster by Adbusters for the Occupy Wallstreet movment; published September 17, 2011.

Monopoly Board Game Box Cover Monopoly, the property trading game \ where the object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property.

This project looks to expose the socioeconomic challenges

One of the principal elements of the board game to be de-

that plague contemporary western society and raise awareness

tourned was the properties that are for sale. Each property has

of the issue. Using the tactics of the Situationist International,

been changed to represent a US city that was impacted by the

and specifically the theory of French philosopher and Situ-

financial crisis and experienced a decline in the market value

ationist, Guy Debord, the outcome was to engage in a dĂŠtour-

of properties within the specific city during the housing crash.

nement of the classic board game Monopoly.

The board game starts with the most economically depressed

Monopoly, the property trading game from Parker Broth-

city of Detroit (Mediterranean Avenue) and finishes with the

ers where the object of the game is to become the wealthiest

city that experienced the least impact during the financial cri-

player through buying, renting and selling property is a clas-

sis, New York City (Boardwalk). Another element that was

sic example of the capitalist ideology of private ownership. It

distorted was the Railroads, which have been replaced with

seemed appropriate that this board game, a cultural phenom-

the countries that are responsible for the European debt crisis,

enon itself, would be a convincing medium for turning the

Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, otherwise know by the

expression of the capitalist system against itself. By distorting the elements of the game to represent the current global economic climate and in particular the US housing crisis as well as the European debt crisis, the game is changed to reflect the significance and impact of this worldwide crisis. The newly, detourned Monopoly also shares principles with the Occupy Wall Street movement that occurred during the fall of 2011. As the divide between the rich and poor grows more distinct each year it becomes more difficult for the average, working class individual to improve their financial situation. As a result more families are faced with the reality that the cost of goods are increasing while wages are stagnating. This is causing more households to incur higher debt levels and feeds into the wealth disparity that has been evolving.

Monopoly Board Game Original setup of Monopoly, the property trading game.

acronym PIGS. Should a player land on one of these spots on

closing on their mortgages. The final element of the game that

the board game, they are required to pay a “bailout” fee and

was detourned was the Luxury Tax space, which was changed

this fee reflects the severity of the countries underlying debt.

to Goldman Sachs. Should a player land on this space they are

The “Go To Jail” spot on the board game has been changed to

required to pay a “kick back” to Goldman Sachs and must pay

“Go To Tent City” and the “In Jail” spot has been changed to

the Bank $100. Goldman Sachs has been identified as one of

“Tent City”. These spots were “detourned” to highlight the

the main contributors to 2008 housing market crash because of

impact the financial crisis had on individual families, and how

the unethical subprime, mortgage backed securities they sold

it has forced many people, who used to own their own homes,

to other financial institutions throughout the world. They

to now live in tent cities throughout the United States. Both

were also accused of “betting against or hedging” those se-

the Chance and Community Chest cards have been changed to

curities they sold to other financial institutions because they

represent the financial consequences and challenges that many

believed that the securities would fail and lose value. Gold-

American households felt after the market crash. These in-

man Sachs amounted huge profits from those transactions and

clude paying health care premiums, banking fees, income tax

faced intense SEC investigations into those activities.

payments and in the most extreme case declaring bankruptcy.

As society and capitalism continue to clash, society is at-

The Utilities on the original Monopoly board game were

tempting to stand up and challenge the economic system that

changed to the US government agency that was responsible

has evolved. Movements like Occupy Wall street, Greece’s

for overseeing and insuring mortgages throughout the United States. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac were both held accountable and responsible after the housing market crash, for helping to fuel the housing market bubble. These two agencies required a bailout from the government after homeowners began foreTent City Images of the Tent City in Reno Nevada after the 2008 bursting of the US housing bubble. This was scene was common for many cities in the US that were directly affected by the housing bubble .

and Spain’s anti-austerity protests and the British student pro-


tests of 2010 are all backlashes against a dysfunctional system


that is more concerned with increasing corporate profits than the prosperity and good of society. By challenging the capitalist system and turning it against itself we can only hope to raise awareness of the problems and change the system.




Debord, G. E., & Wolman, G. J. (1956). A user’s guide to dé-tournement. Retrieved from


Wikipedia (2012). Financial crisis. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Financial_crisis

PAY $100

Wikipedia (2012) Occupy wall street Retrieved from http:// Wikipedia (2012). Situationist International. Retrieved from http://

Examples of the detourned Chance and Community Chest Cards.

PAY 10%










$ 40 0


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The objective of this project is to détourne ‘the tour’. The project

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were here | Nova Utopia Lollapalooza

develops in two parts: Part 1 is a campaign that uses the spectacle

The Nova Scotia Tourism website promotes it as being ‘one

of the traditional tourism marketing lures of, ‘Sun, Sand and

of the friendliest places on earth’. Billboards, TV and radio all

Sea’ and their partner in banality, ‘that enduring maritime

reach out to us, extolling Nova’s many virtues, provoking us

sense of old world charm’, and to divert them. In effect, a

to ‘come out, enjoy, and stay awhile’. Media ads target young

hybrid form of tourism called ‘déTournism’ is created. Part 2

urbanites with praise for trendy shopping, fine dining and

is a (cheeky) conceptual solution derived from the ‘dé-tour’.

exciting entertainment. History buffs are lured to visit with

What if the whole of Nova Scotia worked together towards a

stories of the tall ships and ‘the great age of sail’. Outdoors

solution that leveraged their significant inventory of cultural

men and women are invited to choose from a raft of adventures

artifacts and re-visioned themselves as… A GREAT BIG,

that include every thing from golf to whale watching to


competitive yacht racing.


Michael Peters

Participate in traditional harvesting with local fishers as you go strolling or surfing, clam digging, or winkling on an authentic Nova Scotia experience.



History is alive and well and living in just about every city, town and village from one end of the province to the other.

There’s always been a reason to come to Nova Scotia, and now there’s a reason to return! Travel the ‘Cultural Corridor’ and explore your heritage.

These are all good reasons to come. But they tell only part

We travel to leave the ordinary behind. For some of us, travel

of a story. Traditional industries are shutting down. Pulp

satisfies a desire to ‘graze in greener grasses’. For others, travel

and paper, once an economic driver of a strong resource-

to far away places reinforces the comfort of one’s own home.

based economy, is hobbled by technological shifts and fierce

Today tourism is big business in Nova Scotia and is seen to be

global competition. The once famous fishery is gone, the

a cure-all for economic downturns. Throughout the province,

ships and crew drifting away. Steel…Coal?...gone. Halifax,

small towns and even whole regions are witnessing their

the largest city is tired, burdened by labour problems, its

traditional industries shutting down, their young generations

financial base eroded by capital flight. There is street crime

leave. Some folks, out on the eroding edge are re-thinking

and gang violence. Diminishing economic prospects are not

their culture and their history to appear more appealing,

enticing young people to stay and start a family. Like the rest

entertaining, worthy of interest—to lure anyone, anytime,

of Canada, they are abandoning Nova Scotia.

from anywhere who might buy a T-shirt, a sno-dome, an

The only thing that may keep it alive is its tourism!

authentic branded ‘hoodie’, a hamburger?

We want tourism, specifically deTournism, to ‘shake us up’, to rattle our values and alter our sense in the things that we find familiar. deTournism invites us to pull aside the wizard’s curtain and uncover harsh realities conveniently overlooked. The campaign builds on the spectacle of allure to highlight our history and our culture, but it doesn’t use our ‘spectacular beauty and captivating culture ’, but our historical vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings to shame us into pulling ourselves up, Baron Munchausen-like, by our own bootstraps.

and the

Juxtaposing inspirational words with shocking but compelling images, the campaign uses double entendre, satire and sarcasm to drive the message home along our ‘cultural corridor’. Today’s Past Yesterday’s Future

So what if Nova’s Arts and Cultural sector organizations are facing defunding and tough times just like its resource industries, now is the time to rethink, re-vision and re-invest in its future-past. But the question is, ‘Is any old schooner a draw ? ‘Is one enough?’ So the fish are gone, but there are whales…and shipwrecks…and pirates (well, privateers). And don’t forget the Acadians and the Scots, and some French and Irish to add some hospitality. And maybe even some bands of Mi’Kmaq to lend support? In the same trend for amalgamation as the HRM, Nova Scotia’s cultural assets need to be amalgamated under a grand cultural collective. Billboards encourage history buffs to visit with stories of the tall ships and ‘the great age of sail’.


Nova Utopia Lollapalooza At Nova Utopia Lollapalooza everyone is a player and an owner! We all have our hands on the tiller and we stand to welcome the rest of Canada, our friends from the United States and our guests from around the world. It’s organized into four theme zones, each with its own special places to stay, unique things to see and exciting things to do. Guests arrive at the I’s the B’y Zone–the central gateway to the rest of the park and are greeted with some of that ‘enduring maritime charm’ by our young and friendly ‘Cultural Explorers’. Traveling west is the Bluenoser Zone. Guests discover the many museums that tell powerful stories–‘of the water and the woods and the stillness of it all’, right up to the present. Cruise out of the old port of Lunenburg to try and find fish. (Some restrictions may apply) The next zone is the FryZone. Here young families can discover the pleasures of flotsam and jetsam. Explore a ‘real’ shipwreck washed up on a nearby reef. Or take in a special allday excursion out to Sable Island to enjoy a picnic and ride the ponies. (Some restrictions may apply) The third is the Awesome Zone, built especially for young, energetic people who want to connect with others, find excitement and be entertained, and more ALL THE TIME. Nova Utopia Lollapalooza is a new way of thinking about our future. About where we ’ve been. About where we are going. Get on aboard now! (Some restrictions may apply)

The Nova Utopia Lollapalooza Theme Park—where dreams can come true if we just do’er.

Joseph Rau

TreeLab v1.o Landfills are not all orange peels, coffee grounds, and styrofoam containers from the 1980s. Landfills are bursting at the seams with the proudly realized hopes and dreams of generations of unrelenting innovators and designers. The physical manifestation of these hopes and dreams have been eagerly consumed and inevitably tossed aside by their consumerist worshippers. Many of these products have answered questions unasked by society, suggesting that what can be done, must while simultaneously helping to impart new ideals regarding excess and necessity upon the masses in the process. Vacuum-powered hair cutting devices, slightly-largerthan-a-real-banana banana protectors, and mp3 players with built-in tasers are but a few examples that spring to mind. Are these products truly answering a demand with a requisite supply, or are they self-indulgent attempts at introducing the next best thing, while making a quick buck? Perhaps they are indeed satisfying a small and very specific niche market, but that market is almost certainly a product of their own irresponsible manufacture. These are markets emerging out of restlessness, sustained by a societal tendency towards novelty and giddy inquisitiveness. These are products, just a few among thousands, if not millions, that have helped to perpetuate a market that is fuelled by irresponsible design and production, reckless consumerism, programmed obsolescence, environmental disregard, and an impetuous drive for progress.


Progress in this case, might best be envisioned as a youth-

1997). Examples of both, range in complexity from intensely

fully energetic and carefree dog with unfortunate and obvious

designed technological endeavours to that of turning one ’s

salivary and disciplinary issues, whirling feverishly at barely

back entirely to progress - in hopes of inspiring reversion to

controllable speeds in hopes of simultaneously catching its tail

a more natural or naturally sustainable state. Real-world ex-

and the interest of onlookers. Onlookers who might be willing

amples include initiative ’s such as passive energy harvesting

to throw a couple bucks into its dish in the name of entertain-

systems (i.e. photovoltaic arrays), habitat construction and

ment and ignorance. One would assume certain things might

preservation, and carbon dioxide scrubbers.

be off limits in this tornado of progress and dog slobber, ex-

TreeLab Inc. is capable of offering all this and more...

pressly those things directly contributing to the perpetuation of our own species, or those species with similar or sympathetic needs. This does not seem to be the case, however. Our food is manipulated genetically, our air is increasingly toxifying, and clean drinking water has become a global commodity. The outputs of current methods of progress and production have compromised the quality and integrity of not only what we are required to ingest as human beings in order to survive, but also the natural systems that provide us with these vital inputs. Recently however, there have also been efforts to reverse or offset the impacts of former and current modes of production and progress, much of which has taken inspiration from the very processes that sustained biological life prior to humankind’s unabating preoccupation with technological progress. Eco-mimicry and bio-mimicry are terms that are sometimes used to describe products and processes that attempt to emulate the manner in which nature or nature ’s organisms take care of business, unimpeded by human intervention (Benyus,


TreeLab (version 1.0) is a customizable, modular system providing a pleasing alternative to natural, old fashioned trees. TreeLab v1.0 is an excellent bio/ecomimetic substitute for both deciduous and coniferous trees. It is capable of being placed in environmental and aesthetic contexts that may not have previously been well-suited to botanic viability. All without the hassle of leaf litter and poky needles. TreeLab v1.0 can be assembled in nearly any configuration of the available TreeLab Inc. modules. A standard base model consists of a Scrubber module (or module m1) placed atop the standard Podium base module (m0), whereas a fully configured TreeLab may contain all currently available modules (occasionally even duplicates of certain modules), as well as custom-designed and speculative modules. There are

TreeLab Inc. modules (l to r): Cloud Seed (m5), Habitat (m3), Scrubber (m1), Initializer (m6).

currently seven modules in production (in addition to the required Podium module) and many more in development. Modules currently in production include the following: Scrubber (m1), Solar Absorber (m2a), Solar Converter (m2b), Habitat (m3), Stabilizer / Infiltrator (m4), Cloud Seed (m5), and Initializer (m6). The Scrubber module (along with the Podium) is a base-level module whose function is to inhale and process polluted air and carbon dioxide, and output clean, healthy oxygen back into the environment. The Scrubber is typically placed at a height near that of the human head to facilitate efficient respiratory transference. The Solar Absorber and Solar Converter are designed to function in conjunction with one another, absorbing energy from the sun and converting it

TreeLab v1.0 Elevation view. Modular configuration (top to bottom): m5, m2a+b, m3, m1, m6, m0, m4.

into energy to fuel the TreeLab’s many functions. The Solar

induce hesitant rainfall. The Cloud Seed Pods (projectiles)

Absorber can however, be implemented on its own as a solar

contain proprietary rainmaking blends of natural and man-

shelter or attractive architectural element. Habitat provides

made chemicals.

valuable urban insect and bird habitat and can be customized

There are always a number of speculative and conceptual

to best suit the needs of a variety of indigenous species. The

modules on the workbench at TreeLab Inc. Currently, pro-

Initializer provides a platform for personal non-destructive

totypes include a regionally specific pollination module, a

expression. Users of the Initializer are free to “carve” their,

natural aroma module, and a seasonal transformation module,

and their loved one’s initials into the touch sensitive screen, to

along with many custom-designed user-requested modules.

leave short messages for passersby, or to carry-on the tradition of leaving wishes with a tree in hopes of celestial incubation. The Stabilizer / Infiltrator and Cloud Seed modules are recent additions that aim to positively impact the natural hydro-

TreeLab Inc.’s products are inspired by nature and informed by humankind’s previous failed attempts at emulating nature. TreeLab Inc.’s success depends solely on how well they understand their current and future clients.

logic cycle. Stabilizer / Infiltrator is a subsurface module with roots extending outwards into the surrounding soil promoting soil stabilization, while simultaneously facilitating groundwater infiltration / re-absorption. Cloud Seed takes a more active approach to affecting the hydrologic cycle by providing a system for launching projectiles into the clouds in order to

TreeLab Inc. subsurface module: Stabilizer / Infiltrator module (m4).

TreeLab v1.0: Communing with human and nature.

References Benyus, J. (1997) Biomimicry - Innovation Inspired by Nature, New York, Harper Collins Publishers.

Hana Seo

mr. & mrs. rightnow

How it all began…

Out of a deep-seated and profound frustration, from seeing

able whether they are actually “winning” by living such a busy

what is happening to modern humanity, the project ‘Mr. and

life that they consider their body’s essential needs of eating

Mrs. Rightnow’ was born. Look all around you – there has

and sleeping as irritating interruptions.

never been a time such as this, when people are so obsessed with and vulnerable to their own physical and psychological desires. However unreasonable or insatiable these desires are, they still take control of people. And although we ‘know better’ (as, after all, we live in a century that is loaded with information), the drive for instant fulfillment of our desires is leading us to abuse our resources, resulting in various destructive responses. For instance, we now see more over-weight people in the general population who are at risk of being buried alive in their own bodies. Their children grow up listening to their parents moan every time they get off the couch. What is worse, the next generation will likely follow the same path because the life style is embedded in them. Then there are children and youth who are lost without their portable gaming machines or cell phones in their hands when surrounded by friends and family, or zombie-like teens who retreat to their dungeons (a.k.a. bedrooms) for days at a time, oblivious to the ‘real’ world as long as they have the fastest wireless access to the virtual world. Or how about career men and women who are always on the look-out for the fastest way to eat and “power sleep” so they won’t interrupt the pursuit of whatever it is they are out to win? It is highly question-

Symbols of instant responses

Do something fun about it

When life demands instant responses, the outcome is anxiety,

ods used by situationists. For the poster, a classic image of the

irritation and even fear when the response is not instantaneous.

tree of knowledge from the Garden of Eden was mixed with

These emotions plunge individuals into a perpetual childlike

the original Mr. and Mrs. Smith poster, enriching the project’s

emotional state, which is harmful not only for physical health

double meanings.

but also for society. To portray this contradicting situation of how instant gratification decreases the quality of life, storyboarding was first chosen. However, it soon became evident that the media (storyboard) itself wasn’t appropriate for relaying the message of ‘instantaneity’, so the idea developed into comic strips that consisted of three or four frames. At this point, the development of a main character (or characters) was necessary. Through the intuitive design pro-

Comic strip idea sketch

cess, this was quickly resolved by naming the characters Mr. and Mrs. Rightnow, in reference to the film, Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005). What better characters to represent instant gratification than the fantastic killer couple (literally and figuratively) “whose lives seem to be so modern and free [and] who live for the moment?” ( Once the characters were chosen, the direction of this project became very clear and straightforward. Rather than re-creating hand-drawn characters, screen-captured images directly from the film were used for the visual elements, and some of the quotes from the film were also taken and placed in a manner of ‘out of context’. Taking well-known images, détourned with a text bubble over it or another image from a totally different time and place, is one of the classic meth-

Examples of classic image detournement

Further Conversation

What is the point of the whole project, anyway?

In conclusion, as long as we are able to see the shadow

Like it or not, we cannot escape our body. As sophisticated

clearly with the help of friends, art, religion, or whatever,

as we are, we still live in flesh and bones that demand we do

there is hope that we ’ll make healthy, life-affirming choices

certain things in a certain way and within a certain timeframe.

that lead us upwards and onwards rather than downwards and

Furthermore, as Dale Carnegie contends, we are continuously


self-seeking and that the most significant word in our vocabulary is our own name. The source of our selfish and constant desire for instant gratification can be summed up as our ‘shadow’. Once we are aware of it and accept it as part of who we are by fully owning up to it, we can transform our shadow into something that empowers us to be what we are meant to be as human beings. Problems arise when we try to run from it or deny how we really are; then it’s only a matter of time before we turn into sophisticated fools. Taking a second look at things by investigating problems, discussing concerns, and so on, is not only a valid exercise in itself but is critical for us to learn and mature. Another healthy way of overcoming problems in life is practicing the art of laughing. Thoughts that end in agitation often lead to despair, while there is a mysterious liberation in being able to laugh about what has been irritating us. Keep in mind that this laughter doesn’t arise from the denial or dismissal of problems but from the realization that they may not be as worthy of worry as we previously thought them to be.


Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Smith_(2005_film) Instant Gratification in the Modern World, Sigmund Freud and What it all Means for You, (2011) The culture of Instant Gratification, instantgratification.html Nowism - the consumer need for instant gratification and knowledge – a world trend, (2010)

Film Poster

The characters

Episode 1: Status

Episode 2: SEX

Episode 3: life

Episode 4: food

Episode 5: game

linghan zhan Deformed society

Venality is one of the most important causes of many social problems. When there is a lack of honesty, supervision, and restraint, we cannot have an open and transparent system of government. In China, recent events have caused people to be more deeply suspicious of what they are told in the media. Many deep social problems are related to system maladies which include an unfair distribution of wealth, vested interest class barriers, and so on. Nonetheless, the Chinese people believe that mainstream society will—over time—improve things. Despite all of the problems and cover-ups, these issues can be exposed and discussed, so things are moving in the right direction. However, as soon as nobody cares, society will no longer progress. Usually, movie posters are like a cultural synthesis and they always have strong connection with human society. They use vivid graphics with simple text to narrate a story which often reflects social affairs. This project détournes a selection of movie and cartoon posters, connecting them with some recent Chinese social phenomena that have frightened or shocked the Chinese public. The purpose of these détourned designs is to satirize these events in a way that might awaken the Chinese public and encourage the government to build a safe and equitable society. THE LAST TICKET TO HOME [Figure 1.1, 1.2] “The Spring Festival Travel Rush, also known as Chunyun in Chinese, or Spring Festival Travel Season /Transportation Peak is considered to be the largest annual migration. It is the special period when China faces an extremely high traffic load, which re-

People waiting at the train station to buy the train tickets to home during the period of Chinese New year.

sults in great transportation problems, especially on the railway services.” – Travel China Guide The new poster of 30 illustrates the problem of purchasing train tickets in China during the Chinese Spring Festival. “30” to Chinese people, is shorthand for “New Year’s Eve”. Following the change of the Chinese economic model and the land revolution by Deng Xiaoping after 1976, more and more peasants left the fields to find a career in cities. This rapid migration to big cities has stressed public transit. In particular, the season of the Chinese Spring Festival and these peasant– workers who are travelling home to celebrate the festival with their families, causes a shortage of train tickets. Even though one may get a ticket, it is still difficult to get on the train, and After the train crash, the construction workers were burying the evidences to cover the reality and blind people’s eyes from the truth.

the journey to the train ramp is like a war. Thousands of people are struck in waiting lines without food and drink; in fact, some people are injured in the train station by the crush of the crowd. The poster illustrates this situation. The ticket symbolizes the train and it is a metaphor to communicate to the audience the fact that the ticket to home is sometimes no different from a ticket to hell. TOP SECRET [Figure 2.1, 2.2] “China’s high-speed railway network, once a source of great pride for the Communist Party, has turned into an embarrassment. A collision between two trains on July 23rd near the coastal city of Wenzhou not only killed at least 35 people but also unleashed a torrent of online criticism of the network and the railway bureaucracy.” – The Economist

This is a satiric poster for San Lu milk, which caused baby deaths. The Chinese slogan translates as “San Lu milk, the choice of stepmother.”

Parents were lighting the candles in memory of the students in the bus accident.

Also using a train theme, this poster is based on the original

was slandered and defamed by the families of the victims. In

movie poster Top Secret, and it symbolizes the 7.23 Fatal Bullet

another instance, a bus driver attempted to help a senior citi-

Train Crash. News of this accident was blocked by Chinese

zen after a car accident, and he was blackmailed by the victim

government media, which demonstrates the lack of freedom of

of the family and threatened with a lawsuit, claiming that the

the press in China. The Chinese Communist Party’s position

bus driver was the one who hit the victim. The new vision of

is to “harmonize” all the social problems and build a perfect

the Superman poster explores the social problem and uses the

society without any bad news. When it was fully exposed, the

figure of Superman to represent the kind man who is willing

7.23 Fatal Bullet Train Crash shocked the entire country. The

to help people unconditionally. Superman, who is normally

Chinese national railway administration agency seemed to do

confident and powerful, is detourned by giving him a doubt-

nothing after the crash except cover their mistakes and hide the

ful face. The text “Save” with a question mark indicates that

tragedy from the public. At least 39 died and 210 others were

in China, even Superman would think twice about whether to

injured in the crash. The poster uses the logo of the national

help people who are in trouble.

railway administration-agency and accompanies the text “Top Secret”. The closed lips symbolize how the government tends

FOOD SAFETY [Figure 4.1, 4.2]

to suppress the truth and keep bad news a secret.

“Ink, dye, bleach, wax and toxic chemicals: These are just a few of the substances that have been found recently in food


products in China, reigniting fears over food safety despite re-

“A teenager was arrested on Sunday in Hubei Province, for knock-

peated government pledges to crack down on tainted eats.”

ing down a woman. However, he claims that he was only trying

– The Wall Street Journal

to help her, reported” – Radio 86 All About China

The détournement of the poster Popeye explores the social

The new poster for Superman aims to critique the Chi-

problem of “food safety”. The Chinese national food quality

nese “trust crisis” social problem. This crisis is an economic

test agency has been unable to adequately monitor the safety

problem in China, where the relationships between people

of the food supply. The recent reports on “poison eggs” or

are no longer based on trust but on money. There are several

“poison milk” have caused many people to worry about the

recent events in the news that have brought this crisis to the

safety of what they eat. There have been reports that some

public’s attention: one person tried to help the victims of a car

children’s food products are not passing food quality test-

accident. Rather than receiving a hero’s reward, this person

ing, leading to negative health effects. The “poison eggs”

and “poison milk” issues are evidence of how unethical some

To conclude, this project explores some abnormal social

Chinese food processing companies are, and how powerless

phenomena as evidenced by several recent news events. Al-

are the food test authorities. My détourned poster for Pop-

though the Chinese government seeks stability over every-

eye presents the cartoon figure as a victim of poisoned food.

thing else—bad news is suppressed—but freedom of speech

The spinach—which in the cartoon is known to provide the

is a precondition of a progressive society. Détourned posters

healthy energy to Popeye—has been poisoned, sickening the

could be a visual and legible way to communicate with an au-

otherwise invincible the carton hero.

dience, to highlight and satirize these social problems.

THE SCHOOL BUS [Figure 5.1, 5.2] “An overloaded school minibus crashed head-on with a truck in rural western China on Wednesday, killing at least 18 kindergarten children on their way to class as well as two adults, officials said.” – CBCNEWS The School Bus reflects the real-life story of a school bus accident in Gansu, China. According to the law, small-sized school buses are not permitted to transport more than 9 people; in this well-known tragedy, there were 62 children in the small school bus, plus two adults. The overloaded school bus was on the highway for only two miles when it was struck by a truck. Twenty-one children died and all the survivors were injured. This event triggered a critique of Chinese school buses, and netizens began to discuss the role of the school authorities in the safety of school buses. There are 2.33 billon students in China and 9 million students need to go to school by bus; however, there are only one million school buses. As a result, schools need to put more students in a single vehicle, which is against the law.

References Abrahams, J., & Zucker, J., & Zucker, D. [Poster]. (1984). Retrieved from CB.COM.CN. [Image]. (2011). Retrieved from cn/14024824/20110725/250870.html CNS. (2011, October 18). Caring bystander or perpetrator. Radio 86-All About China. Retrieved from trator Da, L. [Image]. (2008). Retrieved from news/2008/0920/-59433.html Davis, J. [Poster]. (1976). The Big Bus. Retrieved from Intralink Film Graphic Design. [Poster]. (2007). 300. Retrieved from J.M. (2011, July 25). Interrogating the party. The Economist. Retrieved from

Rob. [Poster]. (2008). Superman. Retrieved from Segar, E.C. [Poster]. (1971). Retrieved from http://www.infamouskidd. com/wp-content/up loads/2011/11/popeye.gif Spring Festival Travel Rush in China. (2011). Travel China Guide. Retrieved from The Associated Press. (2011 November 16). Chinese school bus crash kills 20. CBCNEWS. Retrieved from story/2011/11/16/china-bus-crash.html LV, J.Z. [Image]. (2007). Retrieved from


Figure 1.1 poster of the movie 300

Figure 1.2 dĂŠtournement: 30


Figure 2.1 poster of the movie Top Secret!

Figure 2.2 dĂŠtournement: Top Secret!


Figure 3.1 poster of the cartoon Superman

Figure 3.2 dĂŠtournement: Save?


Figure 4.1 poster of the cartoon Popeye

Figure 4.2 dĂŠtournement: I Yam Not What I Yam!


Figure 5.1 poster of the movie The Big Bus

Figure 5.2 dĂŠtournement: The School Bus

Yanyan ZHANG Hostages of video Games

Ludwig Wittgenstein (2009) is perhaps the first philosopher


to address the definition of a word game. He argued that all

The meaning of the Russian National Flag: According to

games must have something in common , and that a game is

Wikipedia (n.d.) , there are two possible meanings of the Rus-

like a sign which, when combined with rules, reflects the in-

sian national flag. The first is that the three colours of the flag

teraction between the game and its players. Board games, card

represent the figure of Saint George, who wore white armor

games, dice games, pencil-paper games and video games are

and rode a white horse while holding a blue shield on a red

all set up by different rules. Players have to know and obey

field. The second meaning is associated with St. Mary, who

the rules in order to play the game properly. The purpose of

wore a blue robe and represents the pure Holy Spirit.

games is to entertain people and to create an artificial space

Based on Wikipedia (n.d.), the video game Tetris was

to physically and intellectually challenge the players. To that

a famous Russian video game that was originally designed

end, each game is like a miniature version of human society

and programmed by Alexey Pajitnov in the Soviet Union

that reflects an economic, educational, political and cultural

and released in 1984. It serves as a metaphor to show how the

status of a particular time period. For instance, the board

world is all about separation and reunion. The world’s big-

game “Monopoly” reflects human activity from an economic

gest socialist country was split into several pieces during the

perspective and shows the method of capital operation in a

political campaigns that accompanied the fall of the Russian

modern capitalist society. “Monopoly” is a parody of modern

Union of Soviet Socialist governments in the late 1980s and

society in that it sets the pursuit of wealth and success as the

early 1990s. The conflict between the different ethnic groups

highest human value. When people are playing a game, they

and unsuccessful economic reform were the main reasons for

essentially become hostages of the game, bound by the rules

the fall. Although Russia was divided into 15 independent

and unable to change them.

countries, from the people ’s point view these ‘separated’ na-

This chapter will redesign the national flags of six coun-

tions still share the same culture and live under the shadow of

tries into video games through poetic design language,

the previous socialist economic model. “Tetris” challenges

making a connection between the nations and their politi-

players to restructure these individual pieces into a whole

cal affairs, and showing the dynamic changes among these

integrated unity. It reflects the social phenomenon of Rus-

countries in recent decades. This chapter will also make the

sia splitting into pieces but still remaining a common entity,

assertion that all design should be political and that all good

echoing the Chinese saying: unification and separation com-

design is political.

plement each other.


Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) is a Germany philosopher who studied language and signs. He is the first person to view games as a group of signs that must have something in common. The game creator creates rules, and the game player is essentially just a rule follower.

bolize unity, work and progress.

The meaning of Bhutan’s national flag: The dragon flag was

The game of Chinese flying chess is a centuries-old dice

introduced in 1947 and represents the strength of the Bhutan

game popular with children. To play the game, players throw

people. Based on Wikipedia (2011), Bhutan’s political system

the dice and then move their planes to the next spot according

has transformed from an absolute monarchy into a constitu-

to the number on the dice. The winner is the first person to

tional monarchy, but it still holds the King as the representa-

travel to the other players’ spots and the first one back to his

tive of the nation.

or her own spot. Recently, the Chinese government started to

The game of “Feed the Dragon” is a task-based video game

build a relationship with African countries and the Chinese

that requires players to receive their tasks from the King. The

planes fully loaded with goods and materials fly to these coun-

major task is to find different food to feed the King’s royal pet

tries to help the African people to develop their economy.

– a dragon. The game illustrates a happy dragon with its simple

The republic of Burundi is a landlocked country in East

pleasures of eating and playing. This reflects the different politi-

Africa. Its capital city, Bujumbura, has a population of around

cal system and character of the people of Bhutan.

three hundred thousand. Burundi is the most underdeveloped

Bhutan is an agricultural country based on a self-sufficient

country in the world, with a high ratio of AIDS-infected peo-

economic model. The country produces rice, soy, wheat,

ple. In 2011, the Chinese government provided material assis-

dairy and root crops, and horses and ox are the major forms

tance to Burundi and promised to help the people to build their

of public transit. Compared with other countries, the GDP

own railway and develop the country’s economy. Naturally,

of Bhutan is relatively low, but the King of Bhutan empha-

as there is no free lunch, behind the ‘friendly’ economic assis-

sizes the spiritual wealth rather than the material wealth of

tance is China’s bid for national resource monopoly. Burundi

the citizens (Think daily, 2006). So, even though Bhutan may

will be eventually become like a secondary nature resource

be a poor country economically, it may well be the happiest

storage room. The three stars on the original Burundi national

country, which has the happiest citizens on Earth.

flag were redesigned into airplanes, which symbolize the reality behind the Chinese material assistance to Burundi.

BURUNDI The meaning of the Burundi national flag (Wikipedia, n.d.):


Green represents hope, white represents peace, and red rep-

The meaning of the Canadian national flag : The two red

resents the struggle for independence. The three stars sym-

squares on the sides of the flag symbolize the Pacific and At-

lantic Oceans, the white in the centre symbolizes the wide ex-

four different classes: the workers, the peasants, the petty

panse of the land of Canada, and the maple leaf represents the

bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie.

abundance of maple trees. Based on Wikipedia , the game of Supermario is a plat-

was created in 2009. It is a strategy puzzle mobile game de-

form video game released in 1985. Mario is the major char-

signed by Rovio Mobile. In the game, the player uses the birds

acter in the game. In the game narratives, Mario is an Italian

as bullets to take down all of the pigs on the playing field. The

plumber who has stopped the kidnapping of Princess Peach in

bird in this game is aggressive and violent

the Kingdom of Mushroom. Both Canada and the game use natural plants as a symbol for their nations.

Ricky Poynor is a British writer and a cultural critic who wrote First Things First Revisited, a critical essay that is considered a statement of political design.

Based on Wikipedia (2012), the Angry Bird video game

In recent decades, the Chinese Communist Party has received many complaints and criticism about its hegemonic con-

According to Natural Resources of Canada statistics

trol over human rights, politics, and the public media. These

(2011), Canada is rich in forest resources, with trees cover-

complaints have come from inside the nation as well as from

ing nearly 400 million hectares of the land. In 2011, Canada

other countries. To achieve true democracy in China will be

exported about 40 million board feet of softwood to China,

difficult, as the Chinese communist party acts like an egotisti-

and the amount is assumed to increase in 2012. However, this

cal crazed bird that is easily angered by critics. The big bird’s

natural resource is a gift from Mother Nature, and if Canada

response to its critics is to block the negative voices through

does not have a sustainable development plan for the trade of

censorship and tighter controls, and to muzzle or dismantle

its natural resources, overselling of trees and forest products

small political parties, by any means possible, in order to retain

may cause serious problems in the future, such as loss of for-

absolute power.

ests and soil erosion. The redesigning of the maple leaf into a mushroom is a parody that predicts these potential problems


for Canada.

The meaning of the American flag: The 50 stars represent the 50 US states; the red symbolizes bravery; the blue symbolizes


justice; and the white symbolizes freedom (Wikipedia. n.d.).

The meaning of the Chinese national flag (Wikipedia,

According to the Wikipedia (n.d.), the game of plants vs zom-

n.d.): The red background symbolizes the blood of heroes

bies is a tower defense action video game originally published by

in Chinese war history. The large star represents the Chi-

PopCap games. The game involves a player using many varieties

nese communist leaders and the four little stars represent

of plants to defend against an attack from an army of zombies, to

keep them from “eating their brains”. It was first released on 2009, and can be used both on PC and Mac systems. The Occupy Wall Street movement symbolizes the conflict between the working class and the upper class in the United States. It is not only about the inequality of payment and different treatment in society, but rather indicates the working class’s awareness of how the upper class has usurped the nation’s proThe World Map

duction materials and physical space. In a symbolic gesture, the dispossessed working class ‘occupies’ the space they believe should belong to all, not just to the privileged few. The game of plants vs zombies symbolizes the struggle between the two classes, in which physical space becomes a war field, showing

Burundi flag. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Burundi Canada flag. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Flag_of_Canada Canada natural resource. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.nrcan. China flag. (2007). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Flag_of_China Wittgenstein. (2009). Stanford University. Retrieved from http://plato. Wittgenstein. [Image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://faithandphilosophy.

the dramatic change of the occupiers being occupied.

World Map. [Image]. (2007). Retrieved from


Plants vs Zombies. (2012). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://

Design is a vehicle of politics, it can function to symbolize and visualize abstract political notions. The Détournement of national flags is focused on representing the narrative or stories behind these countries in a humourous manner, not to degrade political campaigns or different political positions.

References Angry bird. (2012). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Angry_Birds Bhutan flag. (2011). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Flag_of_Bhutan

Poynor, R. [Image]. (2011).Retrieved from http://www.mousharaka. com/en/node/155 Russia flag. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Flag_of_Russia Supermario. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Super_Mario_Bros. Tetris. (2012). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from wiki/Tetris Think daily. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from United States flag. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://






United States

thank you!

Š MDes class of 2012

taking hostages

Taking Hostages: Exercises in Design Détournement  

Design speculations which use as their foundations the work of others. They share a purpose to satirize, and not lecture, but their point is...