Critical Design and Representation of Conflicts
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This paper is part of a PhD research project that focuses on speculative approaches and critical practices within the field of visual design. The research tries to define the necessary conditions for the production of critical forms of knowledge, and to direct design practices towards the articulation of a specific problem, rather than its solution. In this paper I will discuss the need for a political dimension in critical design research and practice, and the need to understand design – at least by its critical drive – as problem-seeking or problem-posing, rather than problem-solving. The theoretical background refers to the concepts of “antagonism” and “dissent” given by Chantal Mouffe and Jacques Rancière. This theoretical background is shared among some of the speculative and critical projects that have arisen in the field of design in the past twenty years, where design practice is addressed towards the articulation and representation of conflicts. These projects add a political dimension to their work: they try to improve a re-framing process of social reality by visualizing the conditions that define a certain aspect of that reality. In this way an issue will be represented as the product of specific choices or agencies and will therefore emerge as a political problem.