Last weekend I was in NYC for a few reasons: I had a book launch event for Net Works at Eyebeam Center for Art+Technology on Thursday night, I showed the Let’s Go Crazy student project at the Mobility Shifts Conference at the New School on Saturday afternoon, and I also wanted to join the Occupy Wall Street rally in Times Square on Saturday evening.
My session at the New School ended on Saturday at 4:30 and the rally was set to begin at 5 o’clock, so I thought I would hop on a subway and find myself in Times Square right on time. To my surprise (and this would probably only happen to a tourist), the protesters marched beneath the window of the room where my session took place at 4pm. Since we were nearing the end of the Q&A part of the session, I packed up my belongings and joined the march from 12th Street to Times Square. We walked for about two and a half hours, taking over both sides of the street on the sidewalks. I couldn’t help but to take a series of photographs while walking. Of course there were people in costume (or in nearly no costume, in the case of the cowboy below), but mostly there were families and well-mannered citizens.
The obvious and most used chant was, “We are the 99 percent.” Though my favorite was the call and response, “Show me what democracy looks like: This is what democracy looks like.” When the police reminded us to stay on the sidewalk, we would answer with, “This is a non-violent protest.” And when the police told us to make way for pedestrians crossing, we responded, “We are a pedestrian crossing.”
As a person interested in all things visual, I took a special interest in the signage. Despite our seemingly techno-influenced hyper-Adobe-fied surroundings these days, most signs were drawn with marker on taped together cardboard. In the duration of my walk, I only saw the pig in a suit (see above) carrying a glossy, printed sign.
If you plan to walk with the Occupy Wall Street protesters – and I highly recommend you do if you are near the city (or any city as this movement picks up speed) you have three choices: walk without a sign (as I did, because I prefer to walk with a camera), walk with a hand-drawn sign, or walk with printed signage. If you choose the third, you can check out Occupy Design. The website intends to “build a visual language for the 99 percent.” I’d love to see some of these icons drawn in marker on cardboard. And if you’re not near a protest, and you don’t feel like starting one yourself, you can contribute to the visual language on the Occupy Design website.
As designers, or educators, or both, it is our duty to foster digital citizenship. After all, this is what democracy looks like.