The workshop | oliver's blogpost @ Memefest
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oliver

DESIGNER   +   RESEARCHER   +   EDUCATOR   +   PHOTOGRAPHER   +   THEORIST   +   CREATIVE_DIRECTOR   +   OUTSIDE_OF_CLASIFICATIONS   +   INTERVENTIONIST

The workshop


It took several years of collaborative research to understand why there is this one communication culture and approach that is used in practice and that is at hand whenever »communication problems » need to be solved in the public sphere. With there is I mean this all encompassing presence of marketing based communication. It is naturalized, meaning, it has penetrated the logic of communication to such extend that no one seems to question it. You don't question air. It is just here.

It was a hard experience to realize that the whole industry, headed by advertising and design companies works pretty much in the same way. No exceptions. Or let’s say almost no exceptions. Also a hard realization is the University situation. The connection between the industry and university is in this case parasitic. What makes out the parasite is the invisibility of visual communication. A paradoxical state of image surface spectacle. With invisibility i mean that non marketing based communication is invisible. Although universities are working on visual communication many times with best intents, the educational and research results are in almost all cases in favor of reproduction of the dominant marketing ideology. Either marketing methods are being explicitly promoted and taught or implicitly through the many artistic and or »socially responsible« projects that are created in the classrooms. The later fall in to the trap of social marketing and usually without knowing they do more harm than good. Same with social movements. Many of them put hard work in their communication, but a sharp eye will see in many cases the long hand of marketing at work there too.

Invisibility of non marketing based communication is highly interesting. Not that such communication doesn't have effects, it does, but the level of conscious articulation in terms of reception is rather subject to a socialization process coerced with specific visual language, discourse and communicative power relations- speaking only about the problem of the communicative image.

However there is a strong interest in different communication practices. This can be observed on industry, university and civil society levels. The problem however is that there are almost non existing alternatives. With this i don't mean that such practices don't exist- although there are not many, they do, but that frameworks for recognition, articulation, comparison and imagination are yet to be designed in a manner that will help to foster wider understanding of different communication logic.

And this is why we wanted work on maps. The idea was to create tools, tactical media, educational tools that would help put some light on this invisible dimensions. The differences between marketing based communication, especially social marketing to socially responsive communication have to be made visible. This is the first step for a wider change of communication practice. This maps, this tools can be used in many different contexts. In the school, with clients of different kinds, with activist communities that employ communication to achieve certain goals.

The idea was to create a dynamic of productive conflict. Bring together more than twenty dedicated communicators: thinkers, educators, designers, artists, activists, students, researchers, professionals- with different social, cultural, knowledge backgrounds and facilitate a mentored process that would be experimental, informal but focused on concrete results. Workshop participants: Mathieu Tremblin, Monika Klobčar, Alana Hunt, Jody Joanna Boehnert, Sarah Dugan, Simon Perčič, Anja Groten, Janneke de Rooij, Lenka Klimešová, Kima Toromajyan, Giada Totaro, John Jordan, Vladimir Turner, Manal Al Mahmood, Arwa Ramadan, Scott Townsend, Teja Kaštrun were chosen among those whose works have been curated and edited at this years friendly competition. Mentors: Alain Bieber, Jason Grant, Tony Credeland, Shoaib Ahmad, Sandy Kaltenborn, my self and co-mentors Paulo Hartmann, Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo, Ines Nin, Frederic Dobuis are long term Memefest collaborators, communication experts with integrity and friends.

I said this many times but will say it again: it is a rare opportunity to see all this great people from around the world, who are serious about social change through communication at one place, working, collaborating, talking, sometimes arguing, learning and having fun. It was in a way a culmination of a ten year process which resulted in this platform and network that has grown globally and in my opinion has a potential to contribute to serious change on different levels.

The subject of the workshop, i felt, was exciting to all of us, although it wasn't easy to facilitate.

The short introductory essay about socially responsive communication could not do justice to the complex theory in a 250+ pages book (at the moment only available in Slovene- to be translated in to English).

However, big parts of this theory are based on research done through all the years of Memefest and somehow naturally participants who already are interested in radical approaches to communication could connect with it in a excitingly productive, creative and imaginative manner.

To create a common understanding of the workshop process and theme, the whole group was engaged in preparations through online discussions, weeks before the actual meeting.

Here.

Here.

Here.

Here.


The nine days of the workshop went smooth, even sometimes some participants and also we as mentors were facing some difficult moments. But that's good and in this case it was very good, because the group remained a strong dialogic culture, people opening up to each other, being interested in each other and working hard on going beyond own concepts.

After first workshop day's re- introduction of the theoretical and practical concept of socially responsive communication five groups were formed. Most of them remained stable through the whole workshop. Each one decided on a particular focus they wanted to take with the map. End of each day groups presented their daily results involving all other groups in to discussions. We worked every day from 10 -18h in this beautiful room that is otherwise used by a local circus group for practicing. We had one day inspiration pause, because of Oddstream's Memefest curated Inspiration day, where co-mentors: Alain Bieber, Jason Grant, Shoaib Nabi, Sandy Kaltenborn, Tony Credland and Paulo Hartmann presented and spoke about their professional, activist, artistic work in Brazil, Germany, Australia, England, Germany and France.

The results of the workshop are many. Formal and informal discussions, dialogue and resulting new commonly created knowledge, insights. New friendships, new plans. And of course the maps. I believe it is a big achievement that all groups finished their projects. It's fantastic that all maps are very different, each explaining a dimension of the relation between social marketing and socially responsive communication. Some offer reflection on details, some give broader overview on the problem.

In the end we were able to physically screen print two maps on t-shirts and one map as a poster. We also digitally printed one map. The rest will be printed as paper maps/posters in the weeks to come and sent to all participants and mentors. We will also create a sub page with pdf. versions of maps for everyone to download. Reflections on concrete maps will also follow. For now here are the maps and photos to speak for themselves.

These results are here to be used. The workshop was not an end in itself, but a step in the process. Ideally everyone involved in the workshop as well as the broader Memefest community will collaborate in one or the other way in their implementation. Let's discuss this soon.


For now a big THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to everyone involved! It was fantastic to work and spend time with you. It was r'n'r! This experience makes us even more dedicated to continue our work with Memefest.

Big THANKS also to our friends at Oddstream/Pink Sweater, Pina and Loesje who worked hard and helped making this possible!

Maps bellow made at the workshop. Photos bellow: Vladimir, Kevin, Sandy, Tony, Shoaib, Mathieu, Rok, Oliver
Image above taken from Design for Dissent (Glaser Milton & Ilić Mirko editors)


»Remote controler«



»Branding in a global setting«



»How to deal with communication shit?«



»Pimp your social ad«



"Communication mixer" - a two layer map





Comments

image-shift
8 years, 1 month ago

... wow!

SanFrancisco
8 years, 1 month ago

i hope i could be there some day
congratulations

ivank123
8 years, 1 month ago

Great works! I'll be waiting the promised hi-res PDF map files.

jessicaleong
8 years, 1 month ago

the space seems ideal--a circus studio, a place for play and performance!

i think ideas discussed are incredibly fascinating. the workshop seems to have started a dialogue about a self-awareness and the designers relationship to the community at large. the ease of design to be used a tool to simply package commercial incentives is something that is becoming less relevant.from the perspective of someone who is interested in the designer as content maker, its reassuring to see a workshop of this sort.

congratulations everyone!!!

skndugan
8 years, 1 month ago

I have no words. The picture of Vladimir on the pole (dancing?) is amazing. So funny. Haha.

Dejch
8 years, 1 month ago

Unforgettable! We'll do our best to make such workshop also in the next year. A hug to you all!

thedoglived
8 years, 1 month ago

Dear Oliver
"Also a hard realization is the University situation. The connection between the industry and university is in this case parasitic. What makes out the parasite is the invisibility of visual communication. A paradoxical state of image surface spectacle. With invisibility i mean that non marketing based communication is invisible. Although universities are working on visual communication many times with best intents, the educational and research results are in almost all cases in favor of reproduction of the dominant marketing ideology. Either marketing methods are being explicitly promoted and taught or implicitly through the many artistic and or »socially responsible« projects that are created in the classrooms. The later fall in to the trap of social marketing and usually without knowing they do more harm than good."

As a course leader in communication design with 400 undergraduate students in my care I couldn't agree more with you.

I have just re-written my entire course and taken out all of the "Marketing training" in an attempt to create designers that think for themselves and invent new communication devices.

I do think that you are too harsh on educators as a whole and taken a bit of a swipe at us, we are trying to change things from the inside which is a really hard task. It would be great to have a discussion with you at some point about this.

The event looked really interesting it would be great to host one at our Art school.

Regards
Thedoglived

oliver
8 years, 1 month ago

Dear Thedoglived,

thank you for your feedback. My intention was not to be harsh on educators as a whole. My basic point is that marketing and especially social marketing communication have taken over the schools when it comes to education processes on "socially responsible" communication/design. Their naturalization has made other types of communication invisible. This has historical reasons and is of course part of ideological dynamics of design /communication proffessions.

I am happy to see more and more educators taking a different direction and I am aware that change from inside is hard. I am an educator too. For past nine years i could observe the situation at my and other universities.

What we are trying to do here is to articulate alternatives in a way that will also help the change from inside you are speaking about.

I'd be happy to discuss this issues more with you. Also, we are interested to collaborate with your Art school. Let us know what possibilities you see.

Cheers, Oliver

oliver
ABOUT ME

Username

oliver


Name

Oliver Vodeb


Gender

male


Country

Australia


Description

I am a member of Memefest communication/art/theory Kolektiv, and founder, curator and editor of Memefest Festival of Socially Responsive Communication and Art. Iam also facilitator of Memefest online social network.

I am an Academic at RMIT University, Melbourne. I teach and research mostly in the field of communication design. I approach design/communication from a critical inter/ extradisciplinary perspective and I investigate theoretical, strategic, conceptual and "hands on" practice.

I enjoy working in many different media including visual and text.

Books I have published :

http://memefest.org/en/fooddemocracy/

www.memefest.org/en/indebtedtointervene/

www.memefest.org/demonstratingrelevance/en

www.druzbenoodzivnokomuniciranje.si/

This was my studio in Slovenia (2004-2012): www.poper.si

CV (sort of): http://www.memefest.org/en/about/who_we_are_oliver_vodeb/

You can read some of my texts here:
https://rmit.academia.edu/OliverVodeb


I have joined the Memfest community becasue i am interested in

I have been here from the very beginning of Memefest. I am interested in communication/design for social and environmental change.
I name such communication socially responsive communication.

Broadly speaking I am interested in visual communication, photography, sociological aspects of communication, design and media.

Iam interested in institutionalised forms of communication like for example communication done by design/communication studios and advertising agencies as well as non institutionalised forms of communication like tactical media or broader aspects of media activism.

In a slightly more academic language:

I am interested in how critical social theory can illuminate the complex processes of production, distribution and reception of public (visual) communication in order to generate public communication as a responsible social, political, economic and cultural practice.

I am particularly interested in relations between concepts of response-ability and communication effectiveness, and the social construction of design and other forms of pubic communication as profession, practice and praxis within academia, the market environments and non-institutionalised communities.


Faculty

was studiing at Faculty for social sciences University of Ljubljana


Education

PhD in sociology of communication and design


Working place

RMIT University, School of Design, Master of Communication Design


Music I like

Flamming Lips, Pixies, The Black Crowes, Demeter, Porno for Pyros, Ry Cooder, Junior Kimbrough, Townes van Zandt, T-model Ford, The Dirty Three, Bonnie Prince Billy, Primus, Faith no More, Bob Dylan, RHCP, Alice Donut, Faith no more, Mark Lanegan, Reigning Sound, Total Control;


Books I like

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, A Confederacy of Dunces, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, PanikHerz...;


Films I like

The man who wasn't there, No country for old man, Genova, Zidane a 21st century portrait, There will be blood, Il Postino, Festen, Straight Story, Wild at heart, White Ribbon, Dog tooth;


Communication projects I like

I like stuff we did at Poper studio. I like posters from Inkahoots. I like the zine project 23/56 from Kevin. I like many things that were submitted to Memefest, I like stuff from Cactusnetwork, I like the work of Image-shift.


Websites I like

poper.si, memefest.org, magnumphotos.com, mubi.com, ubu.com, http://twotheories.blogspot.com, brianholmes.wordpress.com, www.lensculture.com, www.burnmagazine.org, www.bagnewsnotes.com, www.cactusnetwork.org.uk, http://www.image-shift.net, www.inkahoots.com.au/
www.lokidesign.net


People I like

My dear family and my wonderful friends.


COMRADES