Step, Choose & PLay
This dissertation project is the outcome of two years in the Master of Design program at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver Canada. The course engaged our abilities to think and write critically within a creative, theoretical and experimental framework. Through generative research methodologies grounded in a strong studio culture, my work was situated at the confluence of storytelling practices, gestures and making.
This thesis project was co supervised under the expert guidance of - Deborah Shackleton & Hélène Day Fraser
Snakes, Ladders & Choice is the reimagined and redesigned game based on the traditional Indian game of Gyan Chaupar and its colonized counterpart - Snakes & Ladders. This game is a recommendation to enable necessary discourse within communities in India to challenge stereotypes, prejudices that determine the status of women. Using the technology of the Hoffmann hand tufting gun (meant to create rugs), to visually imagined the game to suit the gallery and exhibition setting.
Situated in the Michael O'Brian Exhibition Commons, my thesis project sat amongst other graduate projects for
over two weeks at the Emily Carr University of Art & Design's Grad Show Exhibition in 2018.
The global climate of #MeToo and #TimesUp has forced us to recognise that violence against women has a long and dark history that needs to be acknowledged. Antithetical to this are the number of crimes against women recorded by the India National Crime Record Bureau (thirty nine per hour) (NCRB, 2016) .The brutal rape of Nirbhaya shocked countries world over. It forced Indians to take notice - this had more to do with the breeding of a culture of violence than a case of a one-off incident. In this context, the objective of this dissertation and its outcomes have been to expose a few examples of where this violence towards women potentially stems from. Within a research framework grounded in design and material praxis, this thesis used a narrative based enquiry along with embodied ways of knowing to develop a series of interventions that cite historical and contemporary examples . These informed three rounds of redesign of the well known game Snakes and Ladders. User participation and testing were used to refine schemas of Chance to Choice within the game. Throughout this design process I have aimed to challenge behaviors and provide spaces to have discussions about problematic biases that subjugate women. Moving forward this work will continue to be developed . It will shift, with care and attention, to India where it will be further developed to better reflect the nuances of the context it is meant for.
This document is about those women of India- who are less privileged, less educated and so often marginalized.
It aims to expose and find means to address the factors that influence women’s systemic oppression and perpetuate stereotypical role expectations in society. It has been, for me, as a woman, a means of considering ways in which we might be able to bridge the gender divide and reclaim our place in society - in a place I call home.
The following sections will describe the progress of this body of research which was generative and grounded in material practice. Initially, this project, which addresses the Indian context, began by seeking means to address child safety and protection from sexual abuse by empowering caregivers. uickly however, secondary research and a shift of focus amplified the extent to which women in India are still largely shackled when it comes to their autonomy. Hindu doctrines and epics have specifically defined roles for women.
When challenged these expectations are met with great opposition and sometimes even death. This confusing and restrictive environment is further complicated when the portrayal of women in Indian popular culture is considered.
I will draw you through my process in stages. The first section addresses the Indian context
and speaks specifically to the existence of the Hindu Caste System and its historical and contemporary repercussions on women. This will be used to provide the reader with the theoretical framing that guides this dissertation. The next section discusses the use of stories and storytelling in India and details aspects of my material, studio based practice, including craft based activities and video prototypes that explore representations of women in Indian Bollywood Masala films as well as the daily reality they inhabit. The last section discusses the development and iterative redesign of the popular board game: Snakes and Ladders as a tool for sensitization and a means to ignite needed discourse about alternate futures for women in India.