Re-Mediation Lab: Design, Disaster, and the Politics of Everyday Strategies
Five-day collaborative workshops and installation with Mark Salvatus, participating design students and emerging artists in Manila, Philippines. Sponsored by The Japan Foundation for the exhibition Media Art/Kitchen.
Over the course of five days, Mark Salvatus (PH) and Stephanie Syjuco (USA/PH) collaborated on a series of public workshops at 98B Collaboratory Art Space in Manila, responding to the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Southern Philippines. Working with students, young designers, and emerging artists, they developed a laboratory that began by studying the vernacular inventions of street vendors and local citizenry of Manila’s Escolta neighborhood, documenting these ingenious and ad hoc designed objects.
The succeeding days involved sharing ideas about disaster and survivalism and prototyping quick-and-dirty inventions addressing the themes of shelter, clothing, food/hunting, defense, communication, and transport – all necessary areas when faced with an immediate emergency.
By asking participants to re-examine the everyday constructions around them that are usually ignored or overlooked, Salvatus and Syjuco sought to highlight the idea that design ingenuity is the result of ordinary citizens actively responding to adversity.
The three days of hands-on workshops took place in an abandoned department store, a hollowed-out yet historically rich space for commerce and collapse. Participants were split into teams and challenged to use only raw and scavenged materials to create survival constructions and emergency solutions, pre-selected by the artists.
By forcing them to build with limited items “at hand,” the laboratory simulated the immediate nature of disasters and allowed for a metaphoric transformation of tools and materials: a backpack became a rain poncho that transformed into a tent; hunting and fishing gear were made from scraps and discards; noise-making instruments were built to attract attention when stranded; defensive weapons were developed out of trash and furniture; a cocktail dress made from plastic bags doubled as a floating buoy.
“Re-Mediation Lab” sought to ignite the participants’ imaginations, and to perhaps begin to deal with the trauma of a devastating event by using unexpected irony and physical, collaborative challenges, and under limited time constraints. Part design hack-a-thon, art installation, and real-world reckoning, the project reflects Salvatus and Syjuco’s ongoing concerns.
As global economies, societal strife, and man-made and natural disasters come to bear upon how we make our way in the world, the two artists offer up the idea that it will take thinking outside of the box to adapt to—as well as creatively change and influence—our present and future condition.
archive: day 1
archive: day 2
archive: day 3
archive: day 4
archive: day 5