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Friday, June 9 • 9:30am - 11:00am
Telling Crucial Stories: Social Justice, Data, and Interactive Art in Student Projects

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The projects presented in this panel session showcase the power of critical making as a response to pressing contemporary social justice issues. The panelists will present three distinct bodies of student work that use creative data visualization, media art, and critical play to explore multifaceted issues in mental healthcare, HIV/AIDS media activism, environmental justice, and violence against women. Through their projects, the presenters have envisioned and enacted radical care for marginalized communities, encouraging viewers to think deeply about these issues and take action. The panelists will also discuss the importance of creative interventions as a tool for challenging oppressive structures and advancing social justice praxis.

Welcome to Crisis Care University (CCU): A Visceralization of Undergraduates’ Mental Healthcare
Sarah Whitcomb Laiola, Celina DeCordova, Gianna Casey
Coastal Carolina University

Content Warning: This work addresses issues of mental health and college students (in)ability to access appropriate care, through a narrativization of research in the form of a visual, interactive novel. Topics of disordered eating, suicidal ideaton, self-harm, anxiety, and depression may be present in the audience's experience of the work, so attendees are asked to engage the work with care and awareness.

In response to the conference theme of critical making and social justice, we propose to exhibit Welcome to Crisis Care University (CCU): A Visceralization of Undergraduates’ Mental Healthcare. Welcome to CCU is a series of digital and physical critical making projects that have been created as a response to student-led research about mental healthcare, access, and wellbeing on Coastal Carolina University’s campus. Designed by Gianna Casey and Celina DeCordova, two undergraduate students at Coastal Carolina, working under the research guidance and advisement of Dr. Sarah Laiola, assistant professor of Digital Culture and Design at Coastal Carolina, Welcome to CCU imagines and, through experimental making and critical play, enacts a world committed to radically caring for the mental health, anxiety, and stress of today’s undergraduate students, who face the challenges of college in simultaneity with the increasing uncertainty, even impossibility, of a future. Consider that this generation of undergraduates’ collective higher education experience is temporally anchored by the COVID-19 pandemic on one end, and an increasingly unmanageable climate crisis on the other; in the middle of these anchors, that is, their present, they face all the economic, social, and political upheaval attendant with these phenomena. Thus, envisioning, enacting, and making space for radical care for this generation of students is a matter of social justice praxis.

AIDS/ART/NOW: A Media Response to “We Are Having This Conversation Now”
Margaret Rhee, Andrea L. Fernandez, Sarah Wilson
The New School

This media art exhibit includes artwork, creative data visualizations, performances, project demonstrations, and other critical interventions in response to an author class visit to the graduate course “Storytelling Across Media” from School of Media Studies at The New School by AIDS activist authors Alex Juhasz and Ted Kerr. Alex and Ted spoke on their new book “We Are Having This Conversation Now” (Duke UP, 22) and led a discussion on AIDS media, and media graduate students in turn created media art responses to their visit and the book through creative interventions in technology, education, and critical making. With a variety of media created, this exhibit demonstrates the engagement with the newly published book, and an example of a critical making approach to the necessary continuing conversation on HIV/AIDS Media Art Activism.

Digging Multifacets of Social Justice through a Methodological Proposition 
Hatice Server Kesdi
Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Turkiye

Design is a political act. It creates value in economic paradigm while examining its relationship with society, politics and ecology. Because designers take their share of creative destruction and critical design emerged on this foundation, as an antidote to affirmative design.

Different types of critical design exist (Malpass, 2017), though it cannot be reduced to a methodology. Critical design is a position so it only demands a discursive yet flexible methodology which is the purpose of this study: present a theoretical framework draws from the four theories below as a methodology proposition to explore different stages of a critical design project.
1. Critical Design and Everyday Life
2. Object-Oriented Ontology and New Materialism
3. The Public and Construction of Publics
4. Strategy-Tactics

Student projects examined include WATERDROBE, SEVERITY OF VIOLENCE, and HEIMATLOS.


Nick Dease

User Experience Librarian, Pratt Institute


Margaret Rhee

Assistant Professor, The New School

Sarah Laiola

Assistant Professor, Coastal Carolina University

Celina DeCordova

Coastal Carolina University, United States of America

Gianna Casey

Coastal Carolina University, United States of America

Sarah Wilson

The New School, United States of America

Andrea L. Fernandez

The New School, United States of America

Hatice Server Kesdi

Asst. Prof. Dr., Eskişehir Osmangazi University

Friday June 9, 2023 9:30am - 11:00am EDT
Main 210