How might we challenge the assumptions of our political ideology?
When "the other party" is in office, it can feel like the world is ending. But politics isn't as binary as we often describe it to be. We may lean one way for social issues, another way for our views on the military, and veer off in a completely different direction when it comes to economics. With the complexity and nuance in a "political belief" how might we move beyond a binary? In collaboration with Bernice Wong, Oscar Pipson, Kuan Xu, and Sebastian Harmsen
Experience Design | 2016, 2 weeks
The election is coming...
Presented as an election day intervention for the 2016 US presidential election, "Eyedeology" is a design experience to challenge the assumptions we all have about our own ideological beliefs.
Project Roles: Research and Strategy lead, Ideation, Copy
The US is a two-party political system, with Democrats and Republicans in a constant dispute for influence and power. (While third parties, such as Libertarian and Greene parties do exist, they are rarely represented in the House or Senate, with even slimmer odds of a presidency.) But what is more striking is the amount of fervor generated in any discussion about politics. Neuroscientists have found people become more stubborn when faced with contradictory evidence.
A heated political debate is unlikely to change anyone's mind, but politics isn't as binary as the media portrays. While it may often get reduced to "the left" or "the right", the political spectrum is more nuanced.
An eye exam for your ideology
Eyedeology challenges the assumptions we all have about our own idealogical beliefs. Presenting participants with series of public policy conundrums—from Censorship in the Media, to Gender Roles, Income Tax Spending, and Minimum Wage Laws—the “Eyedeology” exam asks you to choose a visual metaphor that represents your approach to each issue. As answers are aggregated, your true political point of view becomes clear.
A day full of surprises abounded as NYC residents and tourists on the Highline adopted their new ideological identities. From Spandex Vigilantes (a type of anarchist), to Charismatic Kale Babies (a type of Liberalist), the Eyedeology team wrote dozens of prescriptions. Summed up the team: "When the next election cycle comes about, and you start to feel myopic, call our team of certified political optometrists."
A visit to the eye doctor
In an eye exam, you optometrist checks your vision to ensure you are seeing clearly. If not, a proper prescription alters the way you see the world. Using this metaphor, we applied the same process to create "Eyedeology" where patients could ensure their stated political ideology matched up correctly with reality. To simulate the experience of a phoropter machine, and being asked, "which is clearer, 1 or 2?" we began to prototype making custom reels for a View-Master.
Let's get political
The political spectrum used for the experience was, in part, dictated by design constraints of the ViewMaster - with 14 slots and 7 images, (where two needed to be reserved for 'start' and 'finish') we chose 5 ideologies to explore that covered both the extremes as well as included common affiliations: anarchism, socialism, liberalism, conservatism, and fascism.
Topics were distilled from facets of political ideology, including attitudes toward censorship, family units, taxes and benefits, and meritocracy. Each category was then prescribed a relevant sub-topic: Censorship in the Media, Gender Roles, Income Tax Spending, and Minimum Wage Laws. A visual metaphor was designed for each.
The final reel
Each of the 4 custom reels featured a start and finish image, as well as five images representing five points along the political spectrum. Participants chose the three topics they wanted to look at, which were used to determine their final political affiliation.
Custom eyedeology glasses
The final experience took place on November 8th, 2016 for a four hour experience near the Highline in Manhattan. After an eyedeological exam, dozens of participants were given a pair of laser-cut glasses with a custom sticker that matched their prescribed ideology. Rather than writing the name of the ideology, a perplexing combination of words were used to inspire conversation, rather than judgement, from others.