Xueyan Guo (she/her)
When we talk about space, what are we talking about? We’re talking about changes in space, what designers do to a space – usually to drive it in a much better direction. But at the same time, we also need to push in the opposite direction, to seek more possibilities for the space.
I am used to presenting the changes in space in a relatively subjective narrative. My experiment is just one of the possibilities of this spatial atmosphere that confronts the problem; I do not offer a concrete and simple answer to it, because such a space needs to be constantly explored and understood in order to deduce a better way of solving the problem.
This project explores man as an individual, the corresponding changes in the space he is in when he faces physical and psychological changes, and the possibility of spaces and atmospheres of despair, resistance and even dread.
I use a relatively subjective narrative to show the changes in space, with the aim of becoming more immersed in the story to feel what the protagonist is feeling. My experiment is only one of the possibilities of this spatial atmosphere of confrontation with pain, and I do not offer a specific and simple answer to it, as such spaces need to be continuously explored and understood in order to deduce a better solution to this pain.
Under the rapid economic development in recent years, human society is highly urbanized, and more public spaces are used as places for human activities to build squares and shopping malls for people to use. In these spaces, countless people come and go, interacting with others. But on a general level, these places are not places where people live, nor do they provide any identity for anyone. It seems that everyone is anonymous and alone in this space, which always seems to be in between the beginning and the end, carrying the people and things that pass by.
This project is concerned with such a liminal space, preserving the traces of people but depriving them of their subjective presence, suggesting human behaviour and the transformation of space caused by people throughout the space. It is a reflection on the space that people live in every day, removing the human subject and contemplating the changes that may occur in the space after all the acts of human transformation.
I have chosen the controversial issue of consumerism as one of the main themes of my space, creating a narrative space to present my views on consumerism and my protest against it. The resulting space is an exploration of the concept of liminal space – how to create the infinite out of the finite? The theme of this project is the intermediate state and what I have done is to explore one of the limits of such an in-between state.
I believe that design is not only limited to serving anyone, but sometimes it is necessary to go beyond the existing design principles and preconceptions to explore more unfamiliar, unknown or pure spaces. Therefore, in this project, I delved further into the relationship between space and people – the creation of a non-positive, even painful, atmosphere.
I Am Not Yours
To be human is to refuse to accept the given as given.
I think that when human beings start to passively accept everything that happens without changing it, without questioning or challenging anything, the development of society will gradually come to a halt. In Speculative Everything : Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming, the author discusses the meaning of critical design and how we can use it to change the world and even create new worlds from a design perspective. Among other things, the authors argue that critical design can engage and guide people’s thinking through design language and structure.
So I wanted to combine a science fiction-like setting with a further exploration of this to create a new story, or even a new world. Through this story and design, I wanted to expose the dilemmas of women that have existed for a long time, but are still hidden by a fig leaf.
As my project wanted to focus on the problems faced by women in the world, I focused on the human part of the planet, Horton (1964) mentioned in his sociology that all higher animals have a definite social system. This social system uses power and institutions to maintain and ensure the extent of human rights and freedoms, and it is constantly changing with the times (MacIver, 1965).
In our era, for centuries before and even centuries after, it is almost impossible for the patriarchal society as inherent institution to change, since patriarchy originated almost as soon as the concept of fatherhood was created, when men began to dominate private property, and when the role of reproduction was given unilaterally to women (Cannell, 1996). And patriarchy has always been accompanied by the emergence of power politics. Under this system, except for the small group of people who really hold power, both men and women are the recipients who are coerced into such a system and unspoken rules. They are forced to accept on a daily basis what the people in power in their society want them to hear and see, such as stressing the need for pregnancy to boost fertility, as a way of stabilizing the social system. As women’s role in society becomes more entrenched, this obsession with pregnancy becomes a social culture, and in some more extreme and centralised societies, a more primitive form of Fertility Rite.
I wanted to make an artistic interpretation of this patriarchal culture of reproductive worship in my project. By dramatising and exaggerating the infinite cycle of women’s bondage to the single function of motherhood, I aim to make more people see and confront this obstacle in the way of women’s self-development and awakening.
In my project, I set up the patriarchy as the only and most powerful social internal construct of the future, and I am hypothesizing what the worst scenario would be for a woman in such a social context, using this exaggerated narrative to reflect and warn myself and others in the present.