Donghwan Kam

Department: Social Design


Anaesthesia Club
Via Varanini, 2

With his project After-Photography, Donghwan Kam brings the plight of refugees into the heart of Via Varanini. By creating a 3D rendering of the Sicilian harbor of Trapani and the rescue boats arriving at the port, he invites audiences to experience a “gamified” refugee crisis, creating photojournalistic documentation of the scene with a specially designed camera.

“The image of the refugee boat is so familiar to us and at the same time so objectified,” he explains. “Because of the repetitive nature of the images, we are no longer responsive to the actual events. By bringing the images into the realm of virtual experience, I defamiliarize the press photos.”

According to Kam, After-Photography exemplifies “real” design because it “creates a tool,” in this case the device for taking photos in virtual reality. Nevertheless, he argues that the function of design today is more about commenting on contemporary reality than creating it. “Design can have more freedom to raise questions than fine art,” he says. “And design is much closer to our daily lives, which means it’s a more efficient way to invade people’s behavior.”

In the local context of Via Varanini, he wonders if his work will “cause some chemical reactions,” and admits, “I’d love to see people try to read the narrative of my project and get involved with the real story as well. I’d also like to see some people get upset and say, ‘How dare you!’ — which has actually happened a few times.”

Copyright Design Academy Eindhoven

Copyright: Design Academy Eindhoven
Photograph(s): Nicole Marnati
Venu Photograph(s): Nicole Marinati