Design for Discomfort: Final Project Proposal

December 4, 2018 Design for Discomfort

Idea: Memorial/Interactive exhibit around police brutality, that seeks to provide discomfort, education, and perhaps empathy. 

Description:  Interactive exhibit that aims to serve both as a memorial to those affected by police brutality, and as a wake up/call to action. So many of these people are either held up as either the “good person that pulled themselves up by their bootstraps/person from a good family” or as a “thug”, where their police record is mentioned almost as a defense, when all of these people should be treated fairly regardless of their circumstances.


“The Retired Worker” 
Name: Mark Lefferts
Age: 45
Location: Youngstown, OH
Occupation: Retired Steelworker
Political Views: Conservative
About(quick highlights):  Grew up in a working class family, started working straight out of high school, community college grad, worked in plants on the production line until plant closed. Pull self up by bootstraps mentality, never would describe himself as someone with prejudices.  

“The Socially Aware Grad Student”
Name: Sarah Douglass
Age: 28
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Graduate Student
Political Views: Liberal
About(quick highlights): Considers herself to be politically aware of what’s going on, active on social media, participated in the women’s march, not too sure about what intersectionality is. Feels confident that she’s doing her best to help others

User Journey Map:


Hears about a new exhibit opening up from his niece. 

While it’s not his usual thing, he agrees to go with her 

Considers cancelling, but goes on the appointed day

Walks through the rest of the gallery, and is reluctant to approach the police brutality exhibit

Feels uncomfortable, but continues on.  

Finds that as he experiences more of these people’s lives, things don’t seem so black and white

Leaves the exhibit with more questions than answers



Hears about the new exhibit from her social media circle

Decides to go check it out with a group of friends

Thinks that she knows what she can expect,  perhaps feels a little bit ahead of other visitors

Finds that she does learn more than she expects from the exhibit

Perhaps finds that her previous assumptions have been challenged, even if she thought she didn’t ‘need’ to see the exhibit as much as other people


Dread Scott (b. 1965), A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday, 2015 (installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art). Nylon, 84 1/2 x 52 1/2 x 1/8 in. (214.6 x 133.4 x 0.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Director’s Discretionary Fund T.2017.262. © Dread Scott. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

Carl Pope (b. 1961), Some of the Greatest Hits of the New York City Police Department: A Celebration of Meritorious Achievement in Community Service, 1994 (installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art). Engraved trophies, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Carl and Karen Pope, Christopher and Ann Stack, and A. W. Stuart 95.82. Photograph by Ron Amstutz
This sculpture by Alabama artist Ronald S McDowell marks the 1963 dog attacks on young African American demonstrators ordered by the infamous Birmingham police chief Eugene “Bull” Connor. This sculpture and other works of art are located in Kelly Ingram Park.

Thoughts on execution:
Initial thoughts is for a web application that allows users to access information about the incident, the victim’s lives, statistics, and the narrative of the community.  I’d like to use sound, images, and video to tell the narrative of the community & victim, without leaning too hard into the violence.  My concern is that I handle it with care, the last thing I want is for it to become too much about the community’s pain.