Remembrance Day can mean different things to many people.

For our last Think Outside: Design and Conflict talk for 2015 the focus was on how a designer would approach the topic ‘Remember’. Architects Susan Freeman of Freeman Ryan Design and Dongsei Kim of axu studio provided two diverse approaches to the topic.

As first speaker, Susan Freeman offered us a brief glimpse into her notable work experience designing public war memorials and museum exhibitions. She touched on how large-scale and small-scale material from a collection can be transformed into something engaging and personal.

She spoke about drawing upon “our designer’s tools” to be able to bring personal stories to life. For example, through the clever treatment of space, sound and imagery exhibitions can be made more meaningful to the general public.

“But remembrance, as we all know, is absolutely not necessarily about military action. Conflict is in many people’s lives… in dealing with other people’s conflict, you really have to pull hard on the expertise of the design,” said Susan.

Susan described working on confronting exhibitions – children living in homes and institutions or the treatment of indigenous Australians on the Canning Stock Route – and how the design process could be used to assist in communicating a traumatic experience or used to reconcile that trauma.

“I think the process of design and the involvement of the protagonists is a really important part of it. Similarly, we have to then bring visitors into that process and be able to tell really complex stories,” said Susan.

Our second guest speaker South Korea-based architect and educator Dongsei Kim gave us another view of the topic drawing upon his research about borders and its implications to nation states.

Dongsei touched upon the relationship between the real, the imagined and the projected and how this can assist us in envisaging unconventional ways of thinking about issues. He referenced the work of artists Marcel Duchamp and Rene Magritte to illustrate his point.

In his presentation Dongsei spoke about nation state borders particularly the perceptions of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea and how perceptions can often be more important than the reality.

“The future is built upon the constant interpretation and reinterpretation of the existing conditions and past memories. I believe by trying to imagine the impossible actually can engage this new way of existing, new way of thinking about existing, memories and remembering,” explained Dongsei.

Dongsei said his animation based on research of the DMZ was used to challenge the notion of the relationship between the north and the south and it was used as a way of provoking rather than to tell a particular story.

“…by consciously deconstructing and reconstructing the existing and its past can engender alternative futures.”

Following the speaker presentations moderator Peter Edwards facilitated the discussion between the presenters and audience which you can now watch on our Vimeo channel.

L to R: Peter Edwards, Dongsei Kim and Susan Freeman. Image by Orion Zuyderhoff-Gray
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