On election day, we took to the streets to challenge the perceptions we have and the assumptions we make about each other. Our theme?
Secession is ingrained in the American identity. From the original declaration of independence from British rule (and ensuing Revolutionary War) to the fight over slavery that started the American Civil War, splitting apart when diplomacy fails is in our national DNA. Regions have always been divided by food, music, and common opinion. And in an increasingly divided and vitriolic political climate, secessionist movements are gaining traction.
Our installation asked participants to imagine how the United States of America might split up. Participants randomly selected one of our divisive issues (climate change, immigration, gun control, marriage equality, abortion access) and then draw their ‘projection’ on our big dry erase map of the US.
As an added twist, we removed the state boundaries from the map. Once they finished, we revealed the actual state lines via a transparent overlay, then showed the ‘real maps' of how the US is divided on each issue—most often a color-coded map of differing laws and policies.
By forcing people to make their generalizations tangible, we intended to hold a mirror to our collective assumptions—and reveal how inaccurate they often are. While many users were pleasantly surprised at the ‘accuracy’ of their state lines, the most common sentiment evinced from the 'real map' reveal was one of surprise and incredulity.
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To read more about this project, check out this post on the Products of Design site.