Undergraduate course


  • ECTS credits0
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeKMD-VIS-218
  • Number of semesters1
  • Resources

Objectives and Content

"Art should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable."



What do you see that you`d like to amplify? What do you see that you`d like to

subdue? Are you proactive or reactive? Do you resist or do you generate? What

do you want to change? improve? destroy?

Design activism has its roots in Henry David Thoreau`s essay "Civil Disobedience", in

which he makes the case for not blindly following authority, but following one`s individual

conscience in each matter.

In the many years since, artists of many kinds have taken up the banner of Thoreau`s

call, including (but not exhausting) Isidore Isou and the Letterist group, Guy Debord and

the International Situationist movement (both credited for inventing Détournement),

Spass Guerillas, Motherfuckers Against the Wall, Tibor Kalman, Jenny Holtzer, Barbara

Kruger, Guerilla Girls, Group Material, AdBusters, Occupy, Pussy Riot...

The commercial sector has also taken up the call, with Viral advertising and Guerilla

advertising, or more correctly appropriated the methods and tools these artists (and of course many many more) created and drew to light. The advertising and public relations

business has used these methods, and in some ways perfected them. (See e.g. Edward

Bernays, and onwards in the business anywhere in the world).

The question for Design activists thus has become one of purpose and ethics.