In Formation ✲

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This 2020, Session 02

Zoë Elizabeth Urand
4 min readSep 27, 2020

In 2016, Beyoncé released Formation as the lead single to her album Lemonade. The song and its politically charged music video present a strong social commentary on Hurricane Katrina, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, the artist provides a glimpse into her heritage, family, and fame. These different layers of meaning woven into the song (and music video) are a good segue into the question:

What is at the intersection of our contributions?

Like Beyoncé, we as interaction designers have layers of meaning woven into our contributions. But what forms do these layers take on? What do the relationships between these layers look like? How do they meet or intersect with one another in order to create opportunities for contributions to be made? The following sketch is my attempt to begin to make sense of this question.

A quick sketch to clarify what is meant by “intersection” in the context of contributions

As we begin to prepare, not only for our BA thesis, but for what kind of designer we want to be post ZHdK, it seems important to reflect upon the layers of meaning that hold value and significance for us. This takes time and effort, but I believe a better understanding of our motivations will help to direct and inspire us in the coming months, as well as after we graduate. To get the ball rolling I began with the question: “What drives/motivates me?”

  1. Collaboration (amongst peers, but also with various disciplines).
  2. Accessibility of information and knowledge.
  3. Acknowledging the complexity and richness of communication.

These responses are quite surface level and need to be refined, but they are a start. I think it’s also important to consider why we are driven or motivated by something… (to be continued).

The assignment for this week was to print out a poster of a campaign that helped to raise awareness and inspire action, with a focus on student activism in various countries throughout history.

My first Google search led me to Berkeley University’s Political Poster Workshop, which formed in May of 1970. Hundreds of silkscreen designs were created by amateurs under the guidance of Malaquías Montoya—a recent graduate from Berkeley and major figure in the Chicano Art Movement—in response to the Vietnam draft and the massacre of four unarmed students at Kent State University by members of the National Guard. In the following examples we can begin to understand graphic design as a powerful weapon of protest. In the 1970s, these silkscreen posters embodied a kind of collective outrage against the political landscape of the time.

American Flag [Untitled] (1970)
Amerika is Devouring Its Children (1970)
Bring Us Together (1970)

Another example are the silkscreen posters produced by a group of students from the Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux Arts in France (later known as Atelier Populaire), who were seeking to get involved in the protest against an increasingly totalitarian Charles de Gaulle regime in 1968. Posters were a main method of communication, as the protestors lacked a central organization, leader, trade union or political party. They were described by members of the Atelier in the frontispiece of their book Posters and the Circumstances of Their Making (1968) as follows:

The posters … are weapons in the service of the struggle and are inseparable from it. To use them for decorative purposes, to display them in bourgeois places of culture or to consider them as objects of aesthetic interest is to impair both their function and their effect.

Oui a La Revolution (Yes to the Revolution)
Je Participe, Tu Participes, Il Participe, Nous Participons, Vous Participez, Ils Profitent (I Participate, You Participate, He/She Participates, We Participate, You [All] Participate, They Profit)
Lutte Contre Le Cancer Gaulliste (Struggle Against the Gaullist Cancer)