Saturday, April 02, 2011

The way disaster looks


(The picture in question)

This post by John Pavlus has received a wide range of responses, and while many of them were angry, I think that he raises some interesting questions. I thought about the aestheticization (is that a word?) of tragedy and natural disasters after the earthquake in Haiti, when everyone mobilizing relief efforts was designing logos and slogans and other campaigns for the cause. In principle, I love the idea of designers (and other people, for that matter) using their own skill sets and knowledge to contribute what they can to relief efforts. So many artists and designers have offered 100% of their proceeds to help Japan over the last few weeks, working overtime to get orders shipped, etc., and I think it's really cool to be able to help in ways that take advantage of what each person has to offer. On the other hand, sometimes I wonder whether people are trying to "brand" a natural disaster, and whether that's a responsible thing to do. I guess it's nice to have a shape, a look, an identity for a cause, so that there's a clear object or trajectory for the money that's flowing in and a unifying symbol of sorts, though sometimes the images and the logos look a bit too eager or something. As many of the commenters to Pavlus' article pointed out, at least such efforts still generate capital that goes to benefit those affected by the disaster. So who's to say? It's an interesting debate.

1 comment:

maggie in america said...

When I first looked at it, I assumed it was a poster that urged one to donate money to a particular organization. And I thought it was really elegant and awesome and well-done. But when I read that it was a poster that one would buy (and the proceeds go to the charity), that felt a little weirder. I'm not sure why I feel like there's a difference, but there is. As the author says, "What am I supposed to DO with it?" I can certainly see why he would view it as potentially exploitative. That being said, if the ends justify the means and money went to where it should go, maybe it's okay? I don't know! It's definitely an interesting debate.