Festival Community
This website is using cookies to. By clicking 'OK', you agree with our cookie policy. More about this.


visual communication practice

Debt Reset


Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

The clock is ticking. Every second, it seems, someone in the world takes on more debt. The clock/counter shows the global figure for all (or almost all) government debts in dollar terms.
Does it matter? After all, world governments owe the money to their own citizens. When debt rises faster than economic output (as it has been doing in recent years), higher government debt implies more country interference in the economy and higher taxes in the future. So the higher the global government debt total, the greater the risk of fiscal crisis, and the bigger the economic impact such crises will have.
What is even more striking is not just the debt, but the promises made to people by governments that do not count as debt, such as pensions, health care, and social security. The numbers keep increasing no matter what.
The colors are as significant as the concept behind it. The numbers and the warning sign are highly visible in red and grabs our attention – it is associated with danger, intensity, and stimulates our mind. Then towards the right, the reset button is in grey. Grey is generally a neutral, balanced color associated with security. People yearn to always be financially safe and to be put in a position where they could dream of having the opportunity to easily click on a button and reset their debt issues. Therefore, the reset button acts like somewhat a security system for those in debt. Yet when the reset button is released, you get the opposite of what is considered as safe: an invalid error stating in bold red that you are forever in debt. If you choose to cancel, world debt continues to increase and increase. The burden of debt could be shown in several ways but through an interactive overview, people learn to take a step further and accept the reality of this issue. The “forever in debt” button is more of a wake up call for people who are in denial of this issue and thus illustrates its effects on the decisions we make on a daily basis.
A small debt produces a debtor, a larger one, an enemy that cannot be defeated. One simply cannot ignore it anymore. Somehow and someway we are all the same, living in this cycle that revolves around greed and needs that eventually starts to affect everyone globally – through debt.

What kind of communication approach do you use?

I created an interactive display through indesign. An interactive display does more than encourage communication, it encourages people to take some action and experience being in control. An image and other forms of media are all things we've seen already, but through this form of interaction created between the user and the work, the user is more personally involved and feels the burden and agony of someone experiencing accumulated debt.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

Awareness of the topic and how debt can affect everyone around the world no matter where you are is important, especially after such crisises such as the Greek debt crisis. Debt levels in Greece reached a point where the country was no longer able to repay its loans, and was forced to ask for help from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund in the form of massive loans. Therefore, through this interactive display, one could personally feel what it's like to be in debt and encourage people to take some sort of action.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

I learned that communicating my concept exactly the way I see it is vital and important to get across. I also learned the power of visuals and different ways people can communicate their ideas and emotions through what they see and experience in their everyday life. We've come across and seen people, some that we even know, who are in debt. The issue is larger than it seems and it's getting harder to tackle due to its massive impact it has on the world already.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

We base everything that we do on communication. Everyday we're communicating with each other, with the world, in some way or another, either by words, actions, mediums, technology, or even expressions in conveying a message. My interactive display is considered GOOD communication because it is effective, convenient, and gets my message across no matter where you are on the globe and more importantly, it is more personal. I believe good communication is significant in establishing good relationships. If people effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas to the world, then perhaps our understanding of issues and disagreements around the world would be at its minimal. Another reason why I consider my work good communication, is that its more than just aesthetics and design, it takes into account the real issue that needs to be communicated to the audience. A design work would be lifeless if it cannot effectively communicate a certain message to those looking at it. My work had a purpose, a personal value, easy to navigate within, an ability to deliver a message across on its own, attention grabbing because it makes people wonder what would happen when the "reset" button is clicked, and has the ability to retain in people's mind and allow them to do something about it. Having an interactive display not only simplifies the understanding of the issue of debt, but also keeps in mind that an audience would always appreciate something delivered to them that is easily communicated and effective at the same time.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

My work could be displayed online or have people interact with the work on a larger level. It could be shared for the purpose of raising awareness. It doesn't need any internet connection and doesn't involve printing papers - cost efficiency. Why print posters than are eventually going to be removed over time or ruined due to weather conditions. My work is just like a web page but more accessible and easy to navigate through buttons which is a simple way to get the audience to interact with the content, leading them to be more inquisitive about what I have to say and offer.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)



No comments yet

Curators comments

This work has not been commented by the curators.

Entry details


Debt Reset


An interactive overview of the world’s debt across the planet

Concept author(s)

Sarah Hamawi

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution



United Arab Emirates

Competition category

visual communication practice

Competition subcategory

web / interactive

Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

American University of Sharjah/College of Architecture, Art and Design