A Mormon missionary, a shaman, and two college students meet in the park...

A Mormon missionary, a shaman, and two college students meet in the park...

WITNESS

Keywords: Design Intervention, Critical Design, Installation

This project explored the idea of witness. To witness someone is to be present for and open to someone, acknowledging their being and their words (if they speak). One can witness another in a religious context, in the context of hospice, etc.

Immediately following the November 2016 Presidential election, it became very clear to me that the people of this country were and are struggling to hear and understand each other's opinions and beliefs. People across the political spectrum felt unheard, disrespected, and even victimized during this election. 

My collaborator Alix and I thus set out to encourage conversation and understanding between, or even just acknowlegement of, strangers. We built wooden seesaws and installed them guerrilla-style in Boston Common. The seesaw provides a platform for communication via a mutually-understood game of raising and lowering, of finding balance and establishing trust.

When left alone, our seesaw attracted the interest of a wide variety of passers-by: a pair of Mormon missionaries, a group of Haitian immigrants, a trans* woman, some college students, some children, and a shaman.  We saw people engage with strangers that they might have otherwise ignored, and we ourselves made some new friends.

Fall 2016
Critical Designer, Activist Engineer
Olin College of Engineering
Team: Alix McCabe

 
A stranger coming from work plays on the seesaw.

A stranger coming from work plays on the seesaw.

A Mormon missionary and Alix playing.

A Mormon missionary and Alix playing.

A Mormon missionary talks to two Haitian immigrants.

A Mormon missionary talks to two Haitian immigrants.

Strangers on the seesaw in a T stop.

Strangers on the seesaw in a T stop.

Two young children join in and play.

Two young children join in and play.