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The Tipping Point

This project was influenced by my having lived in Fitzroy for many years. Fitzroy is a part of Melbourne that has many cafes, restaurants, clubs. I noticed a trend in the types of litter discarded in this particular area and felt it were necessary to document this. This area is quite transient, with more people entering on weekends. The Tipping Point is a series of postcards that are designed to encourage discourse around food packaging waste. The story on each postcard represents a brief moment where the owner shared a relationship with the object photographed. The stories are told from a personal perspective, causing the passerby to feel like a voyeur, peering into the mind of the culprit.

Each story reflects the point in time the consumer made the decision to discard the object framed in the photograph. The questions that arise from this are:
*At what point did that object lose meaning?
*Could its designer have prevented its short use?
*Are the companies producing these products accountable for their lifespan limited to single-use?
*Are these products simply a product of our society whereby food is consumed and enjoyed with very little thought as to how they are produced and where they’re discarded?
*We think of food in terms or enjoyement and sustenance, but very rarely consider the meausres taken to produce this food.

UK author, ‘Theodore Dalrymple’ wrote a book on the subject, called, Simply, Litter. Dalrymple suggests that there is a correlation between fastfood and package dumping. People live in a bubble of “self-individualism” and lack the foresight that allows them to reflect on the aftermath of their action. A lot of litter derives from fast food, which is itself a reflection of a society which expects its whims and appetites to be gratified instantly.

How can designers, with the knowledge they acquire, still choose to create products with little to no social value?
Companies are taking advantage of the knowledge they have been able to accumulate on the patterns we leave, our trace, our psychological dependencies, to promote products in such a way that we begin to believe we need them. In the context of food, we’re told we need energy drinks to be successful at sport and alcohol to be fun, confident and sexy. To fit into the social-norm, a construct of our capitalist system, we consumer abundantly, with very little consideration of the impact we’re making. Companies have a very simple aim, and that is to generate profit.

Designers yield more power than they’d like to admit. Nevertheless, this power is confined to the organisation’s policy in which the designer works for. How can i encourage designer (top-down) and consumers (bottom-up) to make better choices about what they consume and what they create? Tony Fry best describes the role of an ignorant designer, stating that “Most unknowingly, we create or destroy futures by design”.


Project details

Author(s):Stella Anyaogu




How does project benefit the client (if there is a client)?
'The Tipping Point' encourages the general public to interact with their environment including their surrounding spaces and the food they consume. The passerby that picks up the postcard is encouraged to read the story on the back, followed by the stamp which directs them to The Tipping Point's Instagram page. The Instagram page includes information regarding food waste, packaging waste, information regarding local environmental activism and statistics to encourage people to think about what they purchase more carefully.

How does project benefit the people you are speaking to with your communication?
My project benefits the broader Fitzroy community, for it encourages people to make change in a non-intrusive way. The subtlety of this project is purposefully designed to encourage people -rather than force people- to make change. People are generally very educated about waste in Australia, but because they don't see our waste, they are easily able to ignore its existence. This project aims to remind us of the trail we leave behind with every food purchase we make. Likewise, this project hopes to attract the attention of the designers who make these products. It aims to create change using a hybrid bottom-up, top-down approach.

How does project benefit the wider society?
This project aims to teach people the value in consuming less. If we were to live side-by-side with our waste, we would probably consume very differently to what we do today. I hope to humanise consumption and waste because our system is currently designed so that we forget about our waste. By consuming consciously, I think we can begin to tackle many environmental, social, health, political and economic issues.

How did/does this project benefit author (authors/makers of the project)?
This project benefits me by encouraging me to observe the manifold reasons people waste. To produce these works, I need to get into the mind of those who consume and litter. This project has made me reconsider purchasing products that bring me quick pleasure, but have negative effects on the environment.

Tell us something about your view on communication. What is your / your organisation's / initiative's (visual) communication philosophy?
This project is a low-fi speculative design project that uses co-desing philosophies, as well as recoding and elimination to communicate the project. Communication needs to reflect its community. In this case, Fitzroy is a very creative part of Melbourne that has a lot of street art. I wanted to capture its unique qualities in this project by presenting my work in a more defiant manner than the usual exhibition format.

What about the process of creating this work? Please describe it.
PROCESS: 1) Walk around Fitzroy documenting litter through photographing it 2) Print photographs and compose a postcard so that the image of the litter is positioned on the front of the postcard 3) Write a story on the back of the postcard that ‘Community Change’ and NSW Environmental Protection Auhtorities reasons why people litter. 4) Create an Instagram page 5) Create a stamp that goes on the postcard to direct people to the Instagram (the.tipping.point) page Place photos of postcards and information regarding people’s consumption and litter behaviours.Following a co-desing process, i wish for consumers, designers and all citizens to contribute to this page, posting infromation regarding the rubbish they see, and the reasons why they believe it may have been discarded. Sticking to this idea of a tipping-point, i hope participants use their imagination or experience to explain their reasons for consuming. I hope that designers take this information on borad for positive use only. 7) Place postcards in their original location so that one can recognise the location of the photo from the front image on the postcard. 8) Photograph the postcard in its orginal location and document on Twitter. Many of the items will leave their current location due to human and environmental influence, i.e. they're: -blown away to a new location, -stepped on and relocated, -dissolved or disfigured -picked up by the council, residents or businesses nearby; or -possessed by a new owner.

Other projects by the author

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