Protests come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, they vary widely in their scale, longevity, location, context, and medium of delivery. Protests often have a range of elements from signage, to chants, to logos, songs, hashtags, iconography. As designers, rethink, reinterpret, and empower the medium of the protest.
“Traditional” protests: the organization of individuals in a physical space to demonstrate disapproval of or objection to something. Recurring obstacles identified in the traditional protest revolve around mental health, safety, and effectiveness. However, we recognize there are other forms of protest that involve different mediums that might address these issues.
Protesting often easily allows for dissociation and can leave individuals quickly disengaged with a problem other communities directly deal with on a daily basis. Petitions, social media, and online forums can be platforms that promote protesting in a way that removes the physicality of the traditional protest. Our goal was to combine traditional protests to make it more inclusive, and give virtual protests physicality.
How can we make the physical form of protesting accessible via virtual protesting?
Our initial idea was a balloon installation that collects signatures virtually to grow overtime until it reaches a goal and bursts into flames. This then makes the physical form of protest to become accessible to all. However, the first idea was shutoff due to technical incapabilities. This led to our second round of ideation - an urban installation for water conservation. Similar to the balloon, the pillar will collect water as people make a petition online or on site.
The Protest Pillar is an urban intervention that keeps individuals engaged in water conservation by being both a physical reminder and interactive installation that records support visually. Theoretically, individuals would have access to an app that allows them to pledge daily to conserve water. Each pledge pumps a small amount of water into the pillar. However, throughout the day, the pillar slowly leaks. To keep the pillar full, you need to consistently engage in the protest. Additionally, the more people involved will have a large effect on the overall water level. This promotes community virtually but also will bring a sense of togetherness through visual representation.
• Make a wireless button
• Integrate the experience with an online app or petition form
• Incorporate sound by building a deeper reservoir
• Make it life size!
Studying the impact factor:
Perform a user study over a series of weeks to observe how long the engagement is sustained and if there is any correlation with level of engagement and water conservation efforts.
WHAT WE LEARNED
• The pillar brings reality to a seemingly distant problem
• Some people become nervous with the idea of having to engage with an issue everyday.
• However, anxiety can be seen as an effective method of implementing change.
• Although no “Day Zero” happens when the pillar is empty, the pillar will always be a visual reminder that someone cares or no one cares.
This raises two questions:
Is anxiety an ethical means to implement change?
Why is it that it takes anxiety for people to finally take action?