This is an excerpt from our publication Can Art Aid in Resolving Conflicts?: 100 Perspectives, authored by Noam Lemelshtrich Latar, Ornat Lev-er and Jerry Wind. In it, over 100 leading and emerging architects, artists, curators, choreographers, composers, and directors of art institutions around the globe explore the potentially constructive role of the arts in conflict resolution. Below, architect and educator Theodore Spyropoulos responds to the titlar question. Spyropoulous is director of the Architectural Association’s world-renowned Design Research Lab (AADRL) in London and founder of the experimental architecture and design practice Minimaforms. As we face the COVID-19 crisis head on, Spyropoulos' perspective serves as important food for thought.
'Yes, I believe that art and design can play a vital role in constructing a framework of understanding in times of distress. Art can humanize conflict and offer challenging and complex views on the subject itself. This potential is very powerful, as it goes against the reactionary tendencies of today’s media. The art and design that I am speaking of engage these complexities and represent a voice that may have otherwise remained unheard. Art can serve as a testimony to conflict, and communicate its implications across a host of mediums and audiences.
Art and design offer an opportunity to construct new forms of communication that are shared and collective
Understanding necessitates a willingness to engage. Understanding is fundamental. Conflicting views are at times beyond disagreement, and involve a crisis in communication. It is our belief that art and design offer an opportunity to construct new forms of communication that are shared and collective. The work that I develop with my brother Stephen works towards examining participatory constructs in order to engage and make things accessible. Regardless of whether we are working on interfaces, instruments, robots, or architecture, at the heart of our work is an approach that is human-centric. For us, a very important conceptual drive is engaging people through participation. Although we may not foreground technology, we believe that it plays a critical role in making our work accessible.