The world is currently bearing witness to a pandemic – without a doubt, an unexpected historical turning point. At their breaking points, globalised structures of supply chains are suddenly exposed as fragile, relationships of bodies and spaces drastically changed, perspectives on working arrangements unfold while digital systems of control increasingly become visible.

From the controversial success of Zoom to the influence of online user interaction on politics, from supply shortages in food packaging industries to approaches of reshoring pharmaceutical production, GEO—DESIGN: COVID-19. Travelling without moving opens up to original readings of an unexpected, immediate reality marked by acceleration, deceleration and creativity.

Challenged by an unprecedentedly sudden need for digitisation which the design sector is not exempt of, this fourth episode in the ongoing series of exhibitions produced by the GEO—DESIGN exhibition platform introduces eight projects with strikingly different approaches to design and research. The exhibition pushes the discipline of design to explore individual as well as global contexts through digital languages of coding, app development, video essays and 3D rendering.

Design Academy Eindhoven has launched this digital exhibition on the complex dynamics of the ongoing pandemic. The online exhibition GEO—DESIGN: COVID-19. Travelling without moving presents transdisciplinary and research-based projects exploring the effects of a global pandemic on the complex mechanisms underpinning late-capitalist society.

Accessible at covid.geodesign.online, the online exhibition unfolds a digital journey through eight independent chapters investigating the complex manifestations of COVID-19.

The GEO—DESIGN exhibition platform is an ongoing research initiative of Design Academy Eindhoven which approaches design from an investigative perspective, proposing new formats of research into the socio-economic, geographical and geopolitical forces shaping the work of designers today.

Featuring works by Colette Aliman, Noemi Biasetton, Mar Ginot Blanco, Karin Fischnaller, Lauriane Heim, Colin Keays, Felicity Morris, Tamara Orjola, Clara Ormières, Mathilde Philipponnat, Marvin Unger, Vincent Thornhill and Jasper Zehetgruber, the digital exhibition is curated by Martina Muzi and edited by Jeannette Petrik, with graphic identity and web development by Domitille Debret and Giacomo Nanni.

PEPPY by Noemi Biasetton

‘PEPP¥’ by Noemi Biasetton

The application of user-generated data through governmental digital technologies can be viewed as a manifestation of power, facilitated by an increasing digitisation of societies. Noemi Biasetton’s video essay ‘PEPP¥’, uses audio-visual material collected online between March and May 2020 to point towards the crucial role online users play in the creation of today’s political culture. The project analyses two trends in the Italian communication scenario on COVID-19: “argutainment” and user-generated content.

Ava by Vincent Thornhill

‘Anti-Virus Assistant Ava’ by Vincent Thornhill

As technical solutionism guides the developments of anti-viral technologies, technological surveillance becomes both tangible in implementation and invisible, allowing utopias of transparency and safety to, potentially, turn into unknown dystopias. Vincent Thornhill reappropriates the optimistic and opportunistic language of technological ‘solutions’ through the chatbot ‘Ava’; an investigation into the increasingly dominant role that digital technologies play in addressing societal and global issues.

The World Through a Webcam by Felicity Morris

‘The World Through A Webcam’ by Felicity Morris

The hyper-connectedness of individuals through global digital platforms and their potential limitless interactions are contrasted by the pitfalls of corporate extractivism. New standards for public and private living environments emerge. Felicity Morris uses evidence-based research and a digital anthropological approach within the project ’The World Through A Webcam’, to critically explore the rise to success of the application Zoom during the pandemic.

Distanced Bodies by Clara Ormieres and Mathilde Philipponnat

Distanced Bodies’ by Clara Ormières and Mathilde Philipponnat

Since the outset of the pandemic, urban planners have been questioning which emerging trends will shape the way public, domestic and professional as well as political environments are built, maintained, and lived in. Clara Ormières and Mathilde Philipponnat explore speculative scenarios in ‘Distanced Bodies’, depicting possible future realities by transforming social distancing images into computer generated narratives.

Membranes by Jasper Zehetgruber and Marvin Flores Unger

‘Membranes’ by Marvin Unger and Jasper Zehetgruber

Drastic limitations to social interactions, transport and travel expand to define the breaking of links within supply chains. Protectionism within the social sphere scales up to economic protectionism, as global economic players are forced to rethink their sphere of action. The collaborative practice of Marvin Unger and Jasper Zehetgruber focuses on a transdisciplinary future perspective that embraces research and design. Their video collage ‘Membranes’ permeates biology, space and society whilst exploring processes of transformation.

Mutated Industry by Lauriane Heim and Colette Aliman

‘Mutated Industry’ by Lauriane Heim and Colette Aliman

At the core of any supply chain lies commodity costs. Examining networked infrastructures at their breaking points exposes complex inequalities within local and global supply chain networks. ‘Mutated Industry’, a symphonic visual lecture by Lauriane Heim and Colette Aliman analyses the impact of COVID-19 on production operations within the pharmaceutical industry on the example of Paracetamol.

Why Are the Shelves Empty by Tamara Orjola and The Anderen

‘Why Are the Shelves Empty?’ by Tamara Orjola and The Anderen

As neo-liberalism is catalysing the atomisation of networks and deterioration of labour conditions, an increasing need for digitisation opens up potential for unprecedented participatory models and re-imagining labour rights. Tamara Orjola and The Anderen studio unveil a paradox of fragility of interdependent supply chains with ‘Why Are the Shelves Empty?’.

CrisisUtopia by Colin Keays

‘Crisis/Utopia’ by Colin Keays

Historically, periods of crisis have accelerated technical developments with a close link to mechanisms of control. The so-called 'New Normality' is an emotional reality shaped by utopian hopes and dystopian fears, fuelled by experiences of digital connectedness and physical distancing. In his project ‘Crisis/Utopia’, Colin Keays examines the utopian imaginaries that are finally being realised globally as responses to the pandemic. In a series of four visual narratives created in collaboration with Divya Patel, case studies are woven together to explore how the realities of this crisis might help accelerate towards more just societies.

geodesign.online

by Jeanette Petrik