As the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony gets under way, designers Jonathan Barnbrook and Pedro Inoue are urging the creative community to make its voice heard at website Remember Tibet. But do such projects ever achieve anything other than to make the contributors feel better about themselves? CR asked Barnbrook about his aims for the site…
Remember Tibet asks artists and designers to make a statement about the ongoing fight for Tibetan self-determination by uploading work. The site has been launched with this 90 second film (above) that Barnbrook animated and co-wrote with former colleague Pedro Inoue. “It explains clearly and simply the reasons why we have to not be ‘passive’ about this situation,” Barnbrook says.
We spoke to him about his hopes for the project and its purpose.
CR: Can you explain the idea behind the site?
JB: To get artists, designers whoever to contribute some visual work. I don’t know if that sounds a bit limp. This sort of thing [is often met with] “what’s the point of doing a bit of ‘design’?” but this site is not just for designers to look at each other’s work but to be a resource for people who want to express their discontent with the issue. I don’t really want people to get hung up on the idea that this can change anything in isolation, it can’t. These works are just one tool of many which people will use to keep Tibet as a central issue in mainstream politics, as that is the only way things will change.
CR: Is there a specific brief for contributions?
JB: Nothing other than people think about the issues, be sincere in what they say and try [to do] it in the most effective way possible. We don’t mind what media the work is produced in.
CR: What will happen to the contributions? Is there a mechanism for people to print them off and make their own posters etc for example. In other words, do you anticipate that they will have a life beyond the site itself?
JB:We have asked all contributions to be copyright free so we want people to use the site to [obtain] work with which to express their opinion.
CR: There has been a large amount of coverage of the situation in Tibet over the past year and much awareness-raising activity – what will this project contribute that hasn’t already been said?
JB:If design thinks it can have an effect and help sell ‘stuff’ for a company, then equally it means that it has a power which can be used to influence other situations. So we would like it to be something useful to people who express the same opinion but also we want to show that designers do care about the situation and can use what they do for something worthwhile. We also hope that the work put up will explain the situation simply without recourse to ranting or romanticising the subject. This is one of the reasons that the animation was used to launch the site. We hoped to set the tone with it. In it we try to explain in clear language and in a form which explains the reason to protest and counters many of the Chinese arguments which have been expressed in an attempt to make this a less black and white issue.
CR: What would constitute success for this project?
JB: That we made some kind of contribution to changing the situation. We would like most of all of course for Tibet to have some kind of self-determination.