Author(s): Paola Antonelli
Design has a history of violence. It can be an act of creative destruction and a double-edged sword, and yet professional discourse around design has been dominated by voices that only trumpet its commercial and aesthetic successes. Violence, defined here as the power to alter circumstances against the will of others and to their detriment, is ubiquitous in history and in contemporary society. In recent years, moreover, technology has introduced new threats and added dramatically to the many manifestations of violence. Design and Violence is an exploration of the relationship between the two that sheds light on the complex impact of design on the built environment and on everyday life, as well as on the manifestations of violence in contemporary society. Published to accompany an online experiment launched by The Museum of Modern Art in Autumn 2013, it brings together controversial, provocative, and compelling design projects with leading voices from a variety of fields. Each invited author responds to one object chosen by the curators ranging from an AK-47 to a Euthanasia Rollercoaster, from plastic handcuffs to the Stuxnet digital virus and invites dialogue, comments, reflection, and active, occasionally fierce, debate. Examples of questions posed include: Can we design a violent act to be more humane? How far can the state go to protect its borders from immigration before it becomes an act of violence? Is violence male? These experimental and wide-ranging conversations bring together voices from the fields of art and design, science, law, criminal justice, ethics, finance, journalism, and social justice, making Design and Violence an invaluable resource for lively discussions and classroom curricula.