NYCxDesign: Exhibit Offers Reality Check Of Social Institution Decay
Problems surrounding immigration, medicine and education and other topics are experienced through games and personal interactions
An annual component of the WantedDesign fair is work by the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Products of Design students. The design performance class has in the past staged roving exhibits on topics ranging from how we communicate to gender identity. For 2017 the class presented TRIAGE, an interactive exhibition that reframes contemporary urgencies through the lens of design.
TRIAGE consisted of six mobile interactions that allowed participants to experience the effects politics, money and corruption have had on U.S. institutions like healthcare, education and media. Each interaction uses design as a point of engagement to determine each participant’s standing and to let them experience a situation with which they previously might not have dealt.
‘Interrogation Room,’ for example, was positioned near the entrance to the fair. The station mimicked an immigration experience that might occur at U.S. airports today. Participants could role-play both a foreigner and a visa officer and experience both sides of the questioning process.
The access and affordability of healthcare was the topic of ‘Operating Room.’ The station recreated a life-size version of the classic board game Operation. Participants used tongs to select treatment options relating to life-saving scenarios. The interaction concluded with a printed receipt of the estimated total cost under the current U.S. healthcare system.
Each participant got a TRIAGE card that recorded their progress at each of the stations. Stamps, stickers and photo selfies were used to create an individualized ranking of the issues they encountered and illuminated potential changes in points of view.
For such a dense set of topics, TRIAGE was presented in a way that used games and social interactions to encourage participation. Behind the facade of fun was the realization that these are very serious issues that merit continued attention. The exhibit also shows that design can be used as a tool to educate and inform through personal experiences.