In the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, almost three million of the country’s 44 million residents have left the country. The rate of the Ukrainian exodus is unprecedented in recent history. If Russia’s war turns into a years-long occupation, millions of Ukrainians could end up like Syria’s refugees, stranded in a legal, economic and emotional limbo. People who have already lost their homes and livelihoods will be robbed of their futures as well. They are in need of protection and support. As the situation continues to unfold, displacement dynamics and needs continue to grow exponentially.
This is a data-driven newspaper reporting on the Russia-Ukraine War and Ukraine’s refugee crisis with a real-time data prototype of visualizing the counts with font size and numbers of refugees fleeing Ukraine.
The crisis before us is not only the staggering number of refugees with nowhere to go right now, but the temptation to turn away in a time that asks something of each of us. Lives in Process creates an immersion that invites the most personal exploration: one that allows each viewer to consider what it’s like to live life at its most vulnerable—and to ponder what we owe to one another. It merges many forms and sources of information into one exhibition, using text in counterpoise to images, facts, and to the pure—a mix that serves as a reminder of the complexity we don’t see when we simply read an article or look at a photograph. Data offers an alternate kind of voice. I believe the scale of the crisis as it is right now can only be fully depicted and understood through statistics and facts. Data can perhaps help our minds and hearts to process these events beyond what is seen in the news. It offers an alternative to the conditioning and close-mindedness of the mainstream media that serves to desensitize viewers to news debate.
You don’t watch the installations, you experience them. The exhibition encourages the audience to interact with the installations. It provides conversations through graphic design, more than numbers, facts, text, literature, or analysis; and allows viewers to do more than flip through the newspaper. Numbers don’t do justice to the people involved, each with their own story, and they don’t stir action. Lives in Processis not didactic or polemical—it doesn’t preach or take sides. In the end, the installations are open-ended and let viewers make up their own minds about the situation. The final layer of making Lives in Process lies with the audience, in the out-going rush of their unique and cumulative responses to what they see and feel. To take it all in and to connect through their own experiences. To give audiences the space to explore this refugee crisis in a way they have not felt it before. The experience would become a reminder that only the good fortune of being born in a peaceful country stands between the audience and the refugees. The refugees’ peril has resulted not from their actions but from arbitrary accidents of geography.
My hope for the thesis project is that it hits home with those who experience it and shines a fresh light on why solving the refugee crisis matters so much to us all. I hope that can begin here, with people seeing, that as human beings, we’re all part of this.This is the biggest subject of our times. The reasons for this refugee crisis have been building, but now we see it all very clearly in front of us with more people on the move, and more people dying on the way to safety.
This is not a topic you can turn away from. Even if you try to turn away, it will still be there and we will have to deal with it. You can’t stop it by building border walls, because people will keep coming when their survival is at stake. It is important to think about what we all would do in that position. We have an obligation to think empathetically and to try to solve the issues at the root of it all, to think about how we will live together.
- Agency/Creative: Yan Yan
- Article Title: Lives in Process – Student Digital Experiential Design
- Organisation/Entity: Student
- Project Type: Digital
- Project Status: Non Published
- Agency/Creative Country: United States of America
- Agency/Creative City: Oakland
- Industry: Education, Entertainment
- Keywords: WBDS Student Design Awards 2022/23
Educational Institution: ArtCenter College of Design - Graphic Design
Educator's Name: Brad Bartlett , Miles Mazzie , Roy Tatum