Design Culture

ZHdK  |  Design2context  |  Maru Martinez

How is the notion of humaneness in contraposition to crimes against humanity -and on the claim of consciousness– construed?

How one should look at the images of human rights?

is the impassioned vision of humanitarian campaigns and iconic visual signifiers an appropriate one? If emotional perspectives elicit public response; which emotions and which perspectives?

On the pursuit of solidarity, an examination of the visual appeals of Humanitarianism

Without images all people affected by disasters and conflicts are almost inexistent to the western public,  in spite of the large number of civil casualties and the empathic demands from humanitarian agencies. Three problems present themselves to any designer seeking to contribute to do good for humanity. The first concerns the engagement to elicit affectional identification on behalf of the other. Graphic design, even in its most impassioned form, is no absolute guarantee or proof of public action. The second problem derives from technology of communications –print, television and now internet- as sources that legitimate, adopt, modify, privilege images. Humanitarian campaigns often recur to generic visuals of suffering look like to demand public action. The third concern relates to how effective would be to shift the current humanitarian iconography from established set of visual conventions to visual dissentient inventions concerned with the idea of commonness. Designers can create visualisations based on the idea commonness. The increasing diffusion and dissemination of images through media have also turning positive sides, J. Thompson argues that technology can help to stimulate and deepen a sense of cosmopolitan responsibility. The argument stresses that designers can facilitate other forms of connection through alternative representations of cultural diversity and cosmopolitanism. In this sense contribute to 'regain' the humanitarian imperative. 



The need of considering the idea of 'being in common' is a growing discussion in the field of the arts. After these two years-study in Design2context, i consider this an opportunity for design research and the creative practice of design to enrich the ongoing debate. 

Specially today, in a time of contextually specific design.