You Design What Now?
You Design What Now?

Realism And Action

“Instead of being alienated from reality, you have to participate in it. If you want to change something, you must be a part of it. Not everything that is, is good. Some things are not and have to be corrected. Moaning about it will put nothing right—one only despairs and becomes unable to act. And action is what counts.”

Roberto Rossellini, in an interview from My Method: Writings & Interviews, ed. Adriano Apra

When reading through this series of interviews and articles by filmmaker Rossellini, it’s fascinating to note the marked transformation he underwent in his approach to his work. At some point in the 1960s, he became dissatisfied with what he perceived as the limited impact of cinema on the world.

His response was to turn to science and reason as methods to understand the world. Rossellini began making a series of educational films that explored what he considered key moments of history. Through these films, he wanted to examine the world as it was and expose these revelations to others through film.

Rossellini’s early work is closely associated with the Italian neorealist movement in film. In fact, there is a point in the book where he characterizes one of his films as ethnological. To an interaction designer, it’s not too hard to see how this philosophy of realism and viewing the world as it is would move Rossellini to a concern for participation and action in the world.

Designers are usually dedicated to making change in the world, which requires us to both observe and engage with reality as it is. While Rossellini contextualized his change in philosophy under a scientific perspective, I think his desire to spark participation and action through his work is definitely a design instinct.


Art & DesignScience & Design


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