Participatory Design Installation | Design Gallery | Kalamazoo, Michigan
Tabula Rasa participatory event invited viewers to become participants and to create their own patterns, texts and images through the use of large wall grids. The grids were made of tree-limb slices painted either white, black or left as bare untreated wood. The public interacted with the wall grids by removing, turning and/or moving individual slices to make use of either the white or black sides of the pieces or in some cases the bare, untreated wood.
The organic, informal quality of the grids helps to overcome cultural conventions regarding interacting with creative work. The playful environment lowers the threshold for participation and welcomes viewer involvement. The informal wood slices with their irregular organic shapes create a point of contrast from the more often seen digital media exploration on participatory pieces. It brings participatory design, now common in the digital world, to the analog, physical world. The participants interacted not only with the work but with each other, collaborating and socializing while they removed, flipped and rehung the slices. The installation undermines the traditional distinction between maker and viewer. The public venue undermines the exception of the gallery space, opening the exhibition venue to the entire college community–directly entertaining Enzenburger’s notion of emancipatory media.