HOW CAN VISUAL COMMUNICATION IN THE DOMAIN OF CRITICAL DESIGN ENCOURAGE CONSUMERS TO BE AWARE AND CRITICAL OF ADVERTISING AND MAINSTREAM BRANDS?
What did you want to accomplish/achieve with your project?
The ultimate goal of the project is to enable people to criticise mainstream brands and advertisements. This ability to criticise is seen as power of consumers that contributes to the disruption of commercial communication. Commercial materials such as packaging, posters and billboards, which convey commercial messages to consumers, can be disrupted by people’s criticism. This means that the commercial materials can also be seen as a target of criticism. The project does not just help people to disrupt commercial communication through criticism, but also changes the way people perceive advertisements at the individual level.
What have you discovered along the way?
I have found it useful to apply psychological theories and Augmented Reality technology (AR) to the domain of critical design through experimentation. Augmented Reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. AR uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. In conjunction with critical design, the psychological theories and AR technology can be used to create a critical tool that people can use to express their opinions about specific subjects.
What was the result?
The outcome of this master’s project is an Augmented Reality App called ‘Brand Jammer’. This app can help people to criticise and comment on physical, commercial objects and also to see other people’s comments on the commercial objects. The word ‘jammer’ has been taken from ‘radio jammer’, a device that has been used by the military to block radio signals and radar. People’s comments will be presented on a mobile phone screen in the form of Augmented Reality content when users go to the scan mode on the app and point the camera at the target objects.
What could this mean for society?
The project has provided people with a critical tool and an alternative way of criticising in a society. Although the primary objective of the tool is to criticise and comment on mainstream brands and corporations, it might also prove useful for people in a society where freedom of speech is absent. In such a society, people can adapt the tool to different contexts and purposes, such as political or environmental purposes. People can have various social statuses and roles in society, such as that of citizen, customer or consumer. The roles shouldn’t be fixed but changeable. This project has also given people a chance to change their roles from passive to active, from consumers to citizens.