Design as an Act of Resistance: Creativity of the Gezi Resistance and its Audio-Visual Production

Ocak E.

Resistance With/In/To Design, 15 - 16 May 2014, pp.180-189

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper
  • Page Numbers: pp.180-189
  • TED University Affiliated: No


Gezi Protests brought something new to political resistance culture in Turkey. Before the Gezi Protests, almost all of the political actions were made within a modernist paradigm: A modern society is defined and expected to organise itself politically in homogeneous social forms. Therefore, modern political organisations such as political parties, unions, and political groups, were the rational outcome of modernisation. They were the ones which could realise political resistance in modern democratic societies. With Gezi Protests, there occurred a paradigm shift in “political resistance” and “being political.” The protesters were mostly not a member of a political party, union or political group. If even so, they were not in Gezi Protests with their modernist, formal political identity. They were there as free citizens. And more importantly, they were not forming a homogenous unity. They were all different and protests were a kind of coming together of differences. Although they could form a unity as a crowd, this crowd of people were a mere gathering of heterogeneity. Also the form of resistance changed. Each citizen was looking for a creative act, which were all humorous and playful. When we analyse the new forms and potentials of creative resistance (especially the Gezi Protests) from the design perspective, one of the main questions can be formulated as follows: How did all those creative, humorous, playful design ideas for resistance come into scene? In this paper, I will mainly focus on this particular question and try to give answer in three consecutive steps. First, I will develop a conceptual framework by utilising Gilles Deluze and Johan Huizinga. I will elaborate the “creative design idea for resistance” by giving references to the discussions of Deleuze in his essay “What is the Creative Act?” And for being able to understand the playfulness and play element in the creative design outputs of resistance, I will utilise Huizinga’s seminal book, “Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture.” Secondly, through the discussions of these two thinkers, I will discuss new media (use in the Gezi Protests) as a new space of resistance in/on where design has been a constitutive element from the beginning. Not only the designed spaces of social media provoked creative ideas for resistance, but every form of design in new media environments (such as logotypes, illustrations, photographic manipulations, collages, etc.) widely spread the (Gezi) protests on the global scale in a very short time. Hence, we should discuss the potential of design(er) of resistance in the cyberspace. In the (Gezi) protests, reproduction and distribution/broadcasting of images of resistance has also been made in creative forms and formats. This time, citizens were doing their distribution and broadcasting of still and moving images. Then, finally, I will question the position of the designer in the reproduction and distribution/broadcasting of images of resistance. Here, I will discuss design(er) as “context provider” of resistance.