Oh Hai! We are A Parede, a brazilian design research duo currently living in Berlin. Our research interests fall within decolonial thought, radical pedagogies, gender, and sound studies.

Drop us a line for collaborations, requests, ideas and/or general friendliness: hello@a-pare.de

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In Brazil, the Statute of the Unborn changes everything. Life is now legally defined as beginning at the moment of conception. Abortion has always been illegal, but now its definition is broader. The morning after pill and the IUD have been outlawed because they may prevent a fertilized egg from successfully implanting and developing. Even the birth control pill is now a highly controlled medication due to fears that it might be used – in higher doses – for the same purposes of the morning after pill.

Oniria is the first product to be released under the new legislation. Distributed through the country’s public healthcare system, Oniria consists of two parts: a small device which is clipped to the corner of the lips at night and tracks basal body temperature and hormonal levels; and an app that calculates when ovulation is supposed to happen based on the data collected by the device. The information is transmitted to the patient’s healthcare provider; in order to access this information, patients must contact their doctor. However, some premium versions of the product – not available in the public healthcare system – allow the patient direct access to their cycle data.

The “Ocupação Algerinha” or “Vila Algerinha”, formerly known as “Ocupação Dona Algerinha” was one of the biggest occupations in South America in the first decades of the twentieth-first century. During its five-year existence, the occupation was home to around 120.000 people, distributed over an area of approximately 1.33 square kilometers in Southeastern Brazil. The exact origins of the occupation are unknown, but it is believed that the families were initially part of a transmigrational group in Latin America which, in itself, was dissident from a larger group of families directly affected by the housing crisis that followed the wave of Coups d’Etat all over the continent. Due to increased incentives to real estate markets, progressive gentrification in big cities, and the suspension of most social housing programmes in South America, thousands of families – many of whom also unemployed – were forcefully expropriated from their homes, and hence started waves of peregrination and demonstrations all over the continent, particularly in the Southern Cone and Brazil.

This is an experimental format for academic publications in/with/through sound, developed in Copenhagen in 2015 as part of the “Fluid Sounds, Fluid States” conference, and later edited in Berlin. The format follows insights I’ve developed in my article published in Design Issues. The “Audio Paper Manifesto” written by the organizers can also be read here.

This audio paper is an experimental fusion of Speculative and Critical Design (SCD) with sound-based research methods. It is part of an ongoing investigation into the politics of designing for sound, and its accountability for the configuration of violent soundscapes.

Image credit: Graphics by Signe Lupnov, photo by Sanne Krogh Groth

How can the ideas of timelessness and anachronism contribute to the decolonization of design practices in Latin America?

Article published in June 2016 at XRDS:Crossroads, a magazine from ACM. The full text is available on this link.

Cover image by XRDS: All rights reserved.

In Latin America, reality is always dangerously touching dystopia. Even though sometimes it feels that we are moving forward, violence and inequality keep pushing us back to realities much akin to our colonial past, and our history seems to repeat itself. The invasion of land, military coups, police brutality, violent regimes, and the genocide of indigenous and Afro-Latin peoples are all integral to the fabric of our reality. The cyclical nature of our history emerges as it becomes clear that the structures of power pushing us back to the past have, in fact, never left. We are left feeling like actors in a play, performing the same scenes over and over again.

Visual essay published in Spring 2016 at the special issue on ‘Mestizo Technology’ of the Media-N: Journal of the New Media Caucus, Vol.12, No. 1. Full essay available in this link.

This article discusses how Sonic Fiction—a concept developed by cultural theorist Kodwo Eshun—can be regarded as a cogent mechanism with which to develop Speculative and Critical Design (SCD) projects, using subjects of sound, music, and listening as their driving force. Through a dissection of the base premises of sonic fictions, this article aims to expand the perspectives taken so far by SCD projects in order to encompass languages other than those informed by the usual theories, as well as to broaden the spectrum of possibilities for sound-based practices within the field. In doing so, it suggests sonic fiction as a decolonial epistemology for assessing design questions.

Published at Design Issues Vol. 32, No. 2 – Spring 2016.

In September 2015 we were invited by Rachel Uwa from the School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe to give a talk on “world-creation”, under their 2015 Program “Fabricating Empathy.” Joining us in this talk/panel was designer and former RCA alumni Sascha Pohflepp, as well as the program’s instructors Sitraka Rakotoniaina and Andrew Friend.

We decided to shift the theme’s focus to “world negation” instead, particularly focusing on the refugee crisis (at the time only starting to be discussed in Germany/EU), and the negation of human rights in Brazil.

Block Seminar at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen: 2SWS/3 ECTS –Winter Semester 2014/2015

Public spaces are systems constructed for things and people to fit in. Whenever these systems are upset by glitches that expose faults in its structures, reveal the fragility of its foundations, crack its thin, protective walls, said glitches are immediately alienated, excluded or confined to the farthest corners of society. Within those glitches, combinations of nationality, gender, race, class, language fluency and economic power form an unsettling recipe for the interplay of social friction. Who is welcome and who is undesirable? Who and what belongs to certain social spaces, and who and what do not?

Photo Credits: Luiz Gustavo F. Zanotello

Speculative design is going through a troubled adolescence. Roughly fifteen years after interaction design duo Dunne and Raby first started talking about “critical design”, the field seems to have grown up a bit too spoiled and self-centered. Being a fairly young approach to product and interaction design, it seems to have reached a tipping point of confusion, rebellion, contrasting opinions and confrontations. Presently, from practitioners to theorists there seems to be little consensus about what the field is able to offer – and whether it is of any use at all. In this article we hope to pinpoint some reasons why this is so, while at the same time offering not possible, plausible or probable but preferable developments for the field.

Contribution to the 1st Edition of “Modes of Criticism“. Check their Website to order a copy, or get the full article at academia.edu.

Photo credit: Francisco Laranjo/Modes of Criticism

What would be the social and political tensions Brasil would face twenty-something years from now, should a highly conservative and neoliberal coalition rule the country?

(Para ver a versão em Português, clique aqui)

This is a series of objects that confront and reclaim sonic space. It starts from a very simple observation: that silence is never a dialogue, but an imposition. Silencing is an attitude observed in a lot of instances in society, but more often than not it concerns issues of gender, class and ethnicity. Latin americans in the US, turkish and middle-eastern people in northern Europe, women in general – these are all subjects of constant angry looks, reprimand and shushing. We are constantly deemed as “loud”, “annoying”, “uneducated” and other less friendly adjectives.

These objects are meant to allow a reconquering of this stolen sonic space – and they do so by also occupying physical space.

We were invited to give a talk at Retune Conference, which took place in Berlin in September 2014. Centred around the motto “Inside the Mirror”, we took the conference’s tagline as an opportunity to provoke some reflection on Design practice in Europe versus in Latin America and Brazil.
The most important part of our talk was perhaps to be able to clearly define our approach to the discipline, that is, the use of Design as Politics of Confrontation. The use of speculative design proposals to ask uncomfortable questions and provoke immediate reaction from those who sometimes do not react: from our own peers to other designers to policy makers.

Many thanks to Iohanna Nicenboim, Julian Adenauer and everyone at the Retune Conference.

Photo by Thomas Schlorke.

“It’s always a problem, so it’s not a problem anymore” – Overheard from a Thai friend, fruitlessly trying to make people pronounce his name correctly.

First you try to make it work. It doesn’t. You try again. It still doesn’t. And this is where the negotiation process starts. Remotes, video games, TVs. Banging, twisting or shaking have always been part of our relationship with technology. Wherever there is an ill-designed or semi-broken object there is a human counterpart trying to discover a way to make it work. Sometimes it’s clever. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s just plain weird. The Bang Theory is series of experiments and reflections on our negotiation rituals towards everyday objects.

This is a project we started in 2010 and left it hanging for a while. We liked the process and the preliminary results, but were not so happy with the final product. So we decided to revisit and give it a fresh start with some new stories.

A 1–2 Guide for a well-placed Dystopian Design Project

Earlier this year we published a text on Medium which, apparently, said a few things that resonated quite well among design practitioners and researchers alike. In that text, we pointed out a general disregard for issues of race, class and gender privilege within Speculative and Critical Design projects and publications. For us, it was a serious problem we felt the need to call out. However, SCD projects and publications are still letting plenty of “narrow assumptions” sneak in, and they will only continue to reinforce the status quo of colonialism and imperialism rather than effectively challenging it.

To try to make things a bit easier, we developed this very simple and straightforward “Cheat Sheet” you, Speculative and/or Critical Designer, should consult when developing new projects. We strongly believe that following these simple steps may positively contribute to not only Speculative and Critical Design projects becoming more powerful in their line of questioning, but also avoiding the mishaps it sets itself up so boldly to criticise.

Photo Credit: “Landing of Columbus”, by John Vanderlyn (1847) – Wikicommons

We were invited by the organizers of the FAD Fest in Barcelona, Spain, to speak at the 3rd annual “Open Design/Shared Creativity” Conference. We took part in a round table/open session assessing the relationship between Speculative and Critical practices with that of Open Design. Along with the two of us the session was also joined by Laura Forlano, Lisa Ma and hosted by Ramon Sangüesa from “La Mandarina de Newton”.

Find here a summary and some slides of our presentation, followed up by our own wrap-up of the discussion that followed afterwards during the session.

Our warmest thanks to Viviana Narotzky, Sol Polo and Ramon Sangüesa for making this session possible.

All pictures from the FAD Fest Session by Xavi Padrós. More of them can be found here.

Though critical and speculative design have been increasingly relevant in discussing the social and cultural role of design, there has been a distinct lack of both theory and praxis aimed at questioning gender oppression. Departing from an intersectional feminist analysis of the influences and origins of speculative and critical design, this essay questions the underlying privilege that has been hindering the discussion on gender within the discipline and its role in propagating oppression; it then goes on to propose the concept of a “feminist speculative design” as an approach aimed at questioning the complex relationships between gender, technology and social and cultural oppression.

This is a transcript of Luiza’s paper presentation at the Design Research Conference 2014 held in Umeå, Sweden. The full version of the paper can be downloaded as part of the Proceedings here or individually here. This research is funded by the Brazilian Council for Research and Development (CNPq).

On silence as property, commodity and instrument of oppression.

As a South American researcher within Sound Studies I often find myself sitting through lectures, symposia, presentations, performances and conferences about silence. Researchers are talking about silence in a very patronizing, eurocentric and northern-centred way — and because of that, creating a very dangerous dichotomy between “silent” and “noisy” societies. For these societies built on practices of colonization of the other, and yet very fearful of them, silence is not only a commodity but a private property, and as such protected by the capital. Exerting auditory control over oneself, be it by actively crafting one’s own soundscape or passively by silencing the other, is a strong form of aggression and oppression. People assume that there is a “right to quietness” but more often than not forget to ask whose quiet is meant in this right.

Inspired by the tense political and social ordeal happening in Brazil as of 2013-14, we decided to develop a Workshop specifically aimed at brazilian designers. We were given the opportunity to make this workshop happen in three different settings (at a University, a NGO and at a design studio) and in two different formats (twice as a hands-on workshop and once as a round table). This diversity of formats and places surely made the discussions very different from one another and provided several perspectives on the subject. We think that this exchange of opinions, and, most of all, the possibility to talk openly about politics in different contexts in which the social role of design is often taken for granted is the most powerful outcome we could expect from this firs installment of our research.

In April 2014 Pedro was invited by SOMA to give a talk and a workshop in Bauru, Brazil, on his research and practice. By showing the students not only the potential of SCD, but also its current problems, the talk intended to present this practice keeping these tricky questions in mind, so as to help propel the discipline into interesting and novel directions.

A rant on the blind privilege that permeates most Speculative Design projects.

Right now, Speculative and Critical Design preoccupations are directed towards nothing more than an alleged “lack of poetic dimensions” in our relationship with electronic objects. The “social narratives” and “criticism” so advertised by the great majority of its practitioners seem to only apply to the aesthetic concerns of the intellectual northern european middle classes. Those dystopian “critical futures” forget (or oversee it for a lack of empathy toward the subject matter) that the very electronic objects that they are talking about not only are — and will continue to be — accessible to a minimum percentage of the world’s population, but also that those who won’t have access to it will likely be exploited to make that reality happen, one way or another.