As part of NYCxDesign, the students of the MFA in Products of Design at the School of Visual Arts present ACCESS LTD, a set of roving checkpoints that investigates the way access is granted and denied by design—based on where we’re from, what we look like, how we speak, and what we own.
Embracing the international theme at the Wanted Design show, the students explore the way our national, cultural, and personal identities determine our opportunities—both locally and globally. Despite global common ground and interdependence, our differences continue to influence what rights and privileges we enjoy. Using the language and tropes of border control, the work invite guests visiting the Wanted Design exhibition to examine the role of design in granting or limiting an individual’s access to place, people, and prosperity.
Visitors receive a passport and collect a stamp at each of the 5 checkpoints. In order to complete their documentation, they are asked to:
ADOPT a foreign identity
MOVE adeptly between cultures
CONNECT words to wares
REVEAL the personality of possessions
EMBODY your design desires
For immediate access, and to bypass the steps above, they can get married...
Checkpoint: REVEAL prompts visitors to consider the power, privilege, and personality of their possessions. The interaction is a photo booth for your things. It borrows from the vocabulary of airport baggage scanning—but it is much more fun. Guests empty their pockets and arrange their items on a grid inside, labeling each according to the kind of meaning it holds for them. When the composition is complete, they take a top down photo of their recontextualized belongings.
Checkpoint: EMBODY employs the trope of the carnival cutout to comment on the extent to which we allow ourselves to be defined by the objects we own and admire. Using augmented reality, the intervention invites guests to take a passport picture embellished by products on exhibit at Wanted Design. The visitors apply codes to that represent furniture and fixtures to a magnetic silhouette, stand behind it, and are transformed into “furniture monsters.”
At Checkpoint: MOVE, dance is used as a metaphor for the ability to move adeptly between cultures—a valuable skill in today’s increasingly interdependent world. Guests get three chances to dance convincingly to 30 second clips of dance music from around the world.
One of two interactions exploring the access that language grants us, Checkpoint: CONNECT is a memory game. Guests spin the hopper to receive a random language and have just 20 seconds to memorize five words in that language: table, stool, lamp, clock, and bowl. Presented with photographs of products on exhibit at Wanted Design, the visitor is then challenged to correctly label them with a set of magnets.
Checkpoint: ADOPT asks guests to select a new nationality to be stamped on their passport. But there’s a catch: they will need to convince the patrollers that they can pass by saying one key phrase in their adopted country’s language. Guests listen to the phrase “Hi, can I tell you about my work?” and receive a phonetic spelling of that phrase in the language they’ve chosen, and have three attempts to pronounce it correctly.
Each checkpoint offers a second way to get the stamp: marriage. Inspired by the phenomenon of green card marriages, this is the workaround, the fastpass option. An umbrella is opened to create a ceremonial space and the guest is asked to say a vow and marry their friend (or one of the patrollers). The content of the vows is tongue in cheek, and alludes to the problems each of the interactions is addressing: at REVEAL, they agree to let their possessions represent them; at CONNECT, they vow to stay true to the English language and make no effort at international communication.