Actual and Figurative Margins
Graduate Studio Studies (2020)
“Foremost on our minds right now is the pandemic, which has pushed many individuals to live not only in-between, but also somewhat aside from their naturalized activity. Through interactions mediated by a thin screen of light, we travel from our safe places with limited senses — our eyes and ears. We seek out narrow swaths in store aisles, constraining movement to individual, detached paths. Those who's work is considered essential, such as health and food related workers, spend their non-working time in perpetual quarantine. Most horribly, African Americans, Afro Latinx, Latinx, Native Americans, the elderly — populations that are also underrepresented in American society — are the hardest hit.

By way of dispicable events, valiant protests, and other public expressions of fear and courage that point up social injustice, we are more painfully aware of those among us who are marginalized. There are those many who exist in the metaphorical margins by choice, but far more endure dominant social norms that deem them (us) to be inconvenient, irrelevant, incoherent, inessential, unfamiliar ... we could go on. Marginalization occurs at every scale, from kindergarten playgrounds to corporate boardrooms, from neighborhoods to government complexes, in myriad ways. And then there's the profit margin to which we all submit in one form or another. To what extent does design facilitate, hinder, assuage, precipitate, and/or perpetuate marginality?”

— Denise Gonzales Crisp, GD501 FA20

Study 01

How might the design of personal space, presented on a video conference platform, foster a sense of nearness and invite varied yet specific activity? How might the design adapt to changing circumstances over time? By experimenting with foreground / background relationships and the perspective and depth of objects in a space, one’s surroundings merge with the digital. This reveal of one’s immediate and often personal environment encourages engagement with the space beyond the typical face-to-face view. However, with this expansion of space concerns around the privacy and professionalism of revealing the confidential arise. What do we sacrifice when we choose to mask or filter the spaces we inhabit to accommodate an audience?

Prompt. Creating nearness in the digital world.

1 GD501 Studio Salon FA2020 (ISSUU pgs 166-175) <>

Study 02 
MURAL concept maps playing out two hypotheses within the collaborative space: (1) The virtual space will bring about a new social contract that values efficiency over individuality, product over process, function over form therefore people will operate under the new rules of the engagement not as parts of a whole but rather cogs in a machine. (2) The virtual space will bring about a new social contract that values individuality over efficiency, process over product, form over function therefore people will operate under the new rules of the engagement as a part of the greater whole. Findings from these hypotheses present two drastically different scenarios. However, both suggest the same central concept, that new digital environments and tools can create opportunities for social change or at the very least introduce new rules of engagement.  

Prompt. The Virtual Landscape and its Potential Impact on Society Within the MURAL platform, explore meaning of the noun, ‘societies,’ and the corresponding statement, ‘model the contextual effects of what is imagined’.

2 GD501 Studio Salon FA2020 (ISSUU pgs 166-175) <>

Study 03

Online forums are areas where open dialogue around social issues can take place, fostering a sense of understanding within a group. However, only a fraction of those who visit these forums take part, leading to a nonrepresentational set of prompts and responses. How can the design of the online forum experience increase fringe group engagement and promote a more inclusive dialogue within the dominant group?

Prompt. A marginal space explored.