Book Design / Interactive Installation. Advanced Transmedia Studio / MediaTecture Class
The Symbionese Liberation Army was a hardcore, left-wing group of Berkeley radicals whose formation occurred between 1973 and 1975. The group committed bank robberies, two murders and other acts of violence culminating into a Los Angeles shootout with the LAPD that decimated an entire block near Watts. Led by a militant escaped convict, Donald DeFreeze, the SLA became internationally notorious for the notable kidnapping and brainwashing of American heiress Patty Hearst. The SLA’s rise and fall captivated the media and the country’s attention, even garnering a following of those supportive of their cause.
It is important to emphasize the societal temperature of the time. The 345 page book opens with a retrospective into the cultural unrest of the sixties, which permeated to the radical seventies, setting the stage for the birth of the SLA. One of the major challenges is designing a system highlighting the unpredictability of the group. By forming strategic chapter breaks within the structure, it create a sense of unpredictability within the sequential flow of the story. These chapter breaks includes a catalogue of radical press artifacts along with SLA communique documents to name a few. Furthermore, the book introduces readers to individual examples of extremism from current and historical cases. Excerpts from the book The Voices of Guns by Paul Avery and Vin McClellan is juxtaposed with curated content from the book, Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us, by Clark McCauley and Sophia Moskalenko. This juxtaposition offers a broader insight on the psychological factors, stressors, and motive of individual and group extremism. By presenting some similar and contrasting views on radicalism, it engages readers to ask the essential question; liberator or terrorist?
The interactive installation component of the book sheds light on the media frenzy over the kidnapping and brainwashing of Patty Hearst. The installation served as an opportunity for users to experience the realities of the chaos brought forth by the SLA. The Symbionese Liberation Army grew from an escalating discontent with the status quo by voicing a powerful rallying cry that promises revolution. Whether their actions were justified or not, one thing is clear, their revolution was televised.
Mentors/Instructors: Brad Bartlett, Miles Mazzie, Ivan J. Cruz
Consultants: Sherlan Abesamis, Matt Adams
*A class project from ArtCenter College of Design during the summer of 2017.