I Stood Up to Violence: Making it Public

Lead Research Organisation: University of Westminster
Department Name: Faculty of Media Arts and Design


Summary of research

Our project has developed from a workshop held at the National Institute of Design (NID), in Ahmedabad, India in February 2014, that bought together Indian and UK-based academics and designers to develop joint responses to the idea of 'the future city'. India faces a number of future challenges particularly in urban areas where pressing social and environmental problems co-exist.

At NID the research group sought to engage with problems of violence against women and environmental degradation, issues relevant both to 'now cities' and 'future cities'. For example it is known that climate change amplifies existing inequalities particularly in city locales, leading to overcrowding, lack of privacy and the collapse of regular routines and livelihood patterns; all these can result in outbreaks of social disorder. As women constitute the largest percentage of the world's poorest people, they are most affected by these changes which often manifest as gendered abuse. In the Indian context these systemic and economic issues are exacerbated by specific cultural triggers including honour crimes and other customs and beliefs that take the status of unofficial law.

Our research asks how a joint Indian-UK research project can develop considered responses to these matters through production of innovative designs, artworks and events that make these issues visible and engage people in conversation about them. Research is important in this respect as it shows that art and design can function in ways that aren't simply about the production of pleasing objects, clothes or images (important though these things are), but can act to transform the social and ecological environment around us.

Work will be produced in London, Ahmedabad and New Delhi by an international team consisting of academics, artists, designers and architects with specialisms in design for public space. We will produce a number of projects including:

a. Visuals, diagrams and illustrations reflecting and representing the experiences and stories of affected communities and the statistics related to them.

b. A range of street attire informed by stories collected from members of the Indian public. We intend to take this work back to the streets enabling a connection between collated stories/data and the audiences they were derived from.

c. Research into a web platform for women to share and document experiences of gendered violence that can also be employed as an archive of material for further work and collaboration. Before a substantive technological design process is initiated, at this stage of research we envisage production of a report rather than a fully fledged digital deliverable, e.g. the report will consist of research into user needs (including ethical issues) and a technical specification.

d.A project website will document research and act as a platform to publish art and design produced during the project which will be made freely available to the public. Similarly we will document our working practices via the blog to enable people to follow and engage with research as it progresses. Artefacts, designs and ideas produced during the project will be exhibited at the UNBOX Festival in New Delhi in November 2014, enabling audiences first hand experience of work.

At project end we intend to seek out further support for this work that will see it evolve in a sustained manner and cement relationships between Indian and UK participants.

Planned Impact

Impact summary
Given the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural nature of the project we posit a number of different kinds of non-academic beneficiaries across a range of areas:

Art and design practitioner groups interested in art and design practices engaging social issues (e.g. gendered violence) in an Indian setting. Research delivers significant additional value for practitioner groups by producing collaborative cross-cultural models of practice, production insights and innovation in art and design production. Example beneficiaries of research in India include the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), Blank Noise in Bangalore and the Raqs Media Collective in New Delhi. Access to this research occurs at the UNBOX Festival in India and via design and blog posts published on the project website. We will widely publicize the project to this group through a social media presence, via relevant mailing lists, blogs and newsgroups and through the PI, CO-I and Indian collaborators extensive networks of contacts in the external art and design world.

Policy groups
The British Council and Arts Council have established an International Benefit programme and research will contribute to such initiatives by providing models of collaborative practice that link British and Indian creatives and academics. Governmental groups, e.g. Defra's Sustainability Clothing Action Plan benefit by showing how design practice can engage ethically with social issues in an international setting.

We expect that research will provide insights into the public communication of issues related to gendered violence and environmental degradation for organisations with a track record of interest in the role of art and design practice in this process. These include: the Centre for Social Research (CSR), New Delhi; Sara Charlton Charitable Foundation UK; AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) UK; the National Association Against Domestic Violence in the US, and the United Nations Population Fund.

Access to research for governmental and NGO groups will occur via invitation to public events, the web presence and through project publications.

Gallery sector
Recent exhibitions concerned with gendered violence and environmental degradation are numerous demonstrating a considerable appetite for research including at The Nomad Art Gallery, Islamabad; Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA); Rollo Contemporary Art Gallery, London (all 2014); and the Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore (2007). We expect that the project will deliver significant insights for the gallery sector into new approaches in this area. Dissemination of research to these groups occurs via the website and through access to artefacts exhibited at UNBOX in November 2014.


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Corby T (2016) I Stood Up: Social Design in Practice in Art and Design Review

Title I Stood Up (Case study 1) 
Description Installation and workshop The aim of this work was to encourage participants to share and reflect upon their experiences and understanding of gendered violence, and come away with an enhanced understanding of its social impact in an Indian context. Structured as a series of interconnected spaces, the first section of the installation brought together personal stories, anonymized information, and images contributed by participants and in collaboration with No Country for Women, an NGO based in India who gather real-life stories of gender-based violence through multiple digital spaces and communities. This material took the form of anonymized large-scale posters containing witness accounts and voiced first-hand narrations accessed via headphones. A connecting or secondary space provided an area for visitors to leave their responses in the form of notes, signs and thoughts pinned to a wall set aside for this purpose. At this point something unexpected happened, in that the initial encounter with testimonies in space one, empowered visitors to share their own experiences of gendered discrimination and violence. Thus a powerful and unplanned for reaction took place, in which visitors began to customize the installation to their own ends and needs . The final aspect of the exhibit created an interactive space that asked visitors to adapt illustrated postcards, that enabled people to imagine scenarios in which they were involved in situations involving gendered discrimination or violence or question their own responses or preconceptions of it. We hoped the combined effect of the installation would engage participants in a journey of encounter and reflection which they would take away with them. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Research culminated in the development of a hybrid of a workshop and installation developed for the Unbox Festival at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for The Arts in New Delhi, India, and at as separate event at the Faculty of Architecture at the Centre for Environment Planning & Technology (CEPT University) in Ahmedabad between December 2014-March 2015. 
URL https://unrulycities.wordpress.com/
Title I Stood Up (Case study 2) 
Description Design prototypes and workshops The second phase of production for I Stood Up involved the design and dissemination of a number of garments including T-Shirts in conjunction with workshops and public events. This took the form of fieldwork and participatory events that sought to gather data and visualize individual and collective public concerns regarding environmental degradation, carried out in four locations in London (North, South, East, West). Desk-based research informed this process, identifying the key environmental issues affecting London as a basis for further qualitative and quantitative data gathering. A T-shirt displaying slogans was derived from this research after an iterative development of design prototypes including artifact, photography and questionnaire design. The t-shirt was designed to conceptually represent London as a location created significant interest from a range of passers by, participants self-selecting to take part in the process of putting on the t-shirt, and responding to semi-structured questions about environmental concerns and being photographed. Participants were able to take part in one or more elements of the process, being free to opt out at any point. Here we sought to create a kind of social form through a fashion object as facilitator, and a pop-up event that encouraged individual and collective expression. It is the intertwined relationship between form and event, each propelling the other towards the creation of a spectacle in the city (Kessler, 2015), that informs urban life. In this case, the t-shirt and discourse through verbal exchange and photography offer a spectacle that demonstrates culture-making as a live social exchange in the city. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Exhibition of this work took place at a co-design workshop in a committee room in the House of Lords, March 2015, participation in Cultures of Resilience, March 2015, a cross UAL exchange between researchers, tutors and students, and a second year of participation in Being Human, a festival of the Humanities, November 2014 and November 2014. 
URL https://unrulycities.wordpress.com/
Description Our research, fieldwork and the case studies to date support a number of conclusions for our work. Firstly, design that engages subject matter of social import, requires that practitioners be prepared to listen and let participants lead design process. This appears risky in regard to traditional or 'top-down' design processes, but we believe that the benefits outweigh the dangers in terms of positive and novel outcomes. It requires working in sometimes ad-hoc ways, employing highly contingent and social modes of production. Design applications in such contexts are also necessarily interdisciplinary in their methodological formations, often informed by bodies of knowledge, practices and approaches that lie outside of traditional design approaches. We consider the design product in this is context to be a set of processes, possible communications, and social activities that may (case study 2) or may not be (case study 1) facilitated by a designed or co-created artifact. If, to paraphrase Tonkinwise, design is about providing "something useful" (2015), then the 'usefulness' of design in this context is how it enables connecting, sharing and storytelling to support users and participants in bringing to public attention issues of importance through articulation of their own concerns and experiences. For us, the most effective approach to supporting this social activity as evidenced by this research is through the designed provision of participatory, social and spatial multi-sensory contexts and platforms. Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody (Jacobs, 1961). That is not to say the material object of design is not significant, but rather that it functions as part of wider set of processes towards the development of social relations that places people at the centre of the design process, by interweaving place-making and form-making as a means for communities to contribute to social and environmental restorative practices.

Research completed to date, includes the design and prototype of a series of street fashion items in the form of T-Shirts concerned with environmental degradation, and an participatory workshop and installation that confronts, draws out and ultimately helps users reflect on their experiences and attitudes to gendered violence. This work was shown at the Unbox Festival at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for The Arts in New Delhi, India, and at as separate event at the Faculty of Architecture at the Centre for Environment Planning & Technology (CEPT University) in Ahmedabad between December 2014-March 2015.
Exploitation Route The design sector has the ability to both shape and reflect social practice; it represents the tenor of urban life like no other medium (Breward, 2003). We argue that further research is needed into how interdisciplinary mixes of artefact and experience design might give participant/citizens tools, ways and means to connect their individual concerns to wider problems and issues in ways that are meaningful and social in their affects.
Sectors Creative Economy,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://unrulycities.wordpress.com/
Description Research findings show how expanded design artefacts can act as facilitators of change, in urban environments through social engagement. Research also shows how the design artefact has the ability to both shape and reflect social practice. Iterations of design have been tested using artifact creation, exhibition design in indoor, publicly accessible spaces, photography, text and image based publications and projection techniques. These include a co-design workshop in a committee room in the House of Lords, March 2015, participation in Cultures of Resilience, March 2015, and participation in the Being Human, a festival of the Humanities, November 2014 and 2015. Research findings were also used to formulate a workshop asking participants to share their knowledge and response to gendered violence held at the Faculty of Architecture at the Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT University) in Ahmedabad between December 2014-March 2015.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal