Graduate studio (thesis)
Instructions for play, envelopes, alphabet stamps, MDF, wood stain, sawhorse
Graduate Media Design Studio (Pasadena, CA)
Play has the power to transform existing social relations and invert hierarchy, control and power, and design can potentially create playful avenues for non-institutional actors to negotiate greater spatial agency in institutional spaces.
Viewing Privileges is a project that was interested in making the Media Design Practices studio space into a testing ground for a playful activity. A series of instructions were designed, organized, and enclosed in individual envelopes, and people in the graduate studio took one of these envelopes depending on their rank of seniority (from youngest to oldest: dev, concept, thesis, advisor, faculty, coordinator, director, and chair).
The instructions were specifically designed in a way so that they challenge and invert the system of seniority, a hierarchical system embedded in the studio that privileged the spatial agency of older actors than those who are younger. The instructions organized each of the actors to move in a way that allowed dev students to have the best access to the works, or the most viewing privilege, and the department chair to have the least.
Each set of instructions had 2 variables: time (e.g., how much time you will be distracted away from the show by having to do something else) and movement (instructions related to how you should move, or not move). Combined, it made it incredibly hard for people to move freely: for instance, the department chair had to stand 10 feet away from all dev students to allow them to have the best viewing experience. People who were not dev students needed to get their authorization in the form of a signature to negotiate any alterations to their instructions, and the dev students were instructed not to pass on this tool of power - the pencil - to other members of the studio.
This activity played out some insights I observed earlier in Museo Tamayo when attending the premiere of Germán Venegas show, when I realized how much viewing privilege and freedom I had over the museum guards during the premiere (they had to watch us watch the show).