Designing Taiwan's #CongressOccupied Protests

The ad of in the New York Times. Photo from CC: NC.

The New York Times add. Photo from CC: NC.

Many professionals form the service sector have offered their support for the #CongressOccupied movement in Taiwan. Otherwise known as the Sunflower Movement, the protesters have occupied the country's legislature and marched against a controversial trade agreement with China. 

Taiwanese designers in particular have lent an important hand to the movement, creating advertisements and art that convey the protesters’ message clearly. 

The most well-known is an ad that ran in The New York Times after the government cracked down on protests on March 23 2014, paid for via a crowdfunding effort that attracted 3,621 donations. It was designed by Yung-Chen Nieh and a group of designers, who chose a quote from Emily Dickinson – “Morning without you is a dwindled dawn” – to encourage supporters to join a rally on March 30. 

The designers also registered website domain to document information on the #CongressOccupied action. 4 a.m. is the time when protesters first clashed with security guards at the Taiwanese legislature and took over the podium on March 19, 2014, the start of the occupation that sparked the larger movement. 

Even Wu, a member in the team, also helped [zh] set up a real-time online broadcast system for #CongressOccupied, [zh]. In an interview with Chih-Hua Yi (奕之華) on technology news site, he explained

其實製作這網站非常刻苦,因為幾乎所有的程式碼都是在立法院的青島東路側寫出來的。後來因為想拍一張重點圖放首頁,卻苦惱於沒有攝影棚,後來就利用電視的空白頻道,藍色背景當做去被的 key color.

Actually, working on this website was difficult because I wrote all the codes while I was on Ching-Tao East Road next to the Legislative Yuan. Later, I wanted to take a feature photo for the homepage, but there was no studio available, so I used blue like you see on a blank TV channel as the key color for the homepage background.

A woman joined the March 30 rally in New York City to support the #CongressOccupied action in Taiwan carried a bag to protest against the black-box process for the trade deal with China. Photo is from NTU News E-Forum, and it is originally from Chun-Hung Wang. CC: NC.

A protester carries a bag with a black box design during a rally in New York City on March 21. The bags are designed by NYC-based designer Chun-Hung Wang to protest against the secret black-box negotiations between Taiwan and China. Photo is from NTU News E-Forum, originally from Chun-Hung Wang. CC: NC.

Apart from protests at home, overseas Taiwanese also rallied on March 21 to express their support for the #CongressOccupied movement. Some of them carried a bag featuring a black box print, a reference to the secret negotiations that led to the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement between Taiwan and China. The bags were designed and given to the protesters by NYC-based designer Chun-Hung Wang.

Ming-Wen Cheng (鄭閔文), a reporter from NTU News E-Forum, interviewed [zh] Chung Hung Wang:

每個袋子都是王鈞弘一個一個親手拓印,也因為是手工製作,每個袋子都有些差異。袋子的成本除了靠一些朋友贊助,大部份都是他自己吸收。王鈞弘說:「很多人建議我用Flying V,但是用集資平台是募錢去找工廠印,比起來,我希望可以募人力,找到願意出力的朋友親手來做這件事,當然我知道這有點不切實際,但還是很想試試看。」

The monotype print on the bag is handmade by Chun-Hung Wang. Because it is handmade, there are differences from bag to bag. Wang’s friends supported part of the expense of the bags, but Wang paid for most of it. Chung-Hung Wang said, “Many people suggested that I use flyingV [for crowdfunding]. However, I prefer to ask people to join in making the bags instead of raising money for the printing company. Of course, I know this is not realistic, but I want to try.”

As a designer, Wang thinks that social movements are very important for society and should be managed and designed like a brand. Each social movement should have a name, slogan and demand. Most importantly, each movement has a message that needs to be delivered to others. If the Sunflower Movement has a visual theme and design, with pamphlets and posters based on the theme, it can impress people through media with the message that “it is about justice and hope.”

Wang said, “Through the process of printing these bags, I reflected on what we designers can do to fulfill our social responsibility.”

Students from Department of Motion Pictures and Video printed the slogans for the protesters. Photo from NTU News E-Form. CC: NC.

Students from Department of Motion Pictures and Video printed the slogans for the protesters. Photo from NTU News E-Form. CC: NC.

Apart from Wang, many others pitched in to the movement in similar ways. For example, during the evening of March 29, 2014, students from Department of Motion Pictures and Video in Kun Shan University [zh] also helped [zh] the protesters by preparing banners and display boards for a demonstration the following day.

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