Navigating between an End-goal and a 'Readiness to be Affected': A Virtual Reality Briefing to the United Nations Security Council

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Pauline Gourlet


This article describes the design process behind a Virtual Reality movie intended to brief the Security Council of the United Nations about the situation in Iraq, in April 2019. The last couple of years have seen an increase of Virtual Reality movies made by the UN to support advocacy campaigns and provide general public information. But in this case, the goal was to test if the immersive experiences that Virtual Reality movies enable could be used as a political tool. Through a personal reflection upon the peculiar circumstances of this process, this account shows how aiming solely at instrumenting the briefing, which is a typical political situation in the organization, hid the political and transformative potentials of all the other situations of the design process. I will discuss what inhibited these potentials and how they could be enabled, from the perspective of the social interactions and instrumental mediations at play.

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How to Cite
Gourlet, P. (2020). Navigating between an End-goal and a ’Readiness to be Affected’: A Virtual Reality Briefing to the United Nations Security Council. Diseña, (16), 174–199.
Original articles
Author Biography

Pauline Gourlet, United Nations

MA in Graphic Design and Multimedia, École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Design, Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis. Graphic and interaction designer, researcher, and teacher, currently Lead Researcher at the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs of the United Nations. She was previously appointed Visiting Researcher at The New School. Her work addresses the role design can play in the development of both people and organizations, approaching design as a means to interrogate human activities through social creation and appropriation processes of new artifacts. She co-founded L’Atelier de Chercheurs, a collective of designers that creates free tools to support learning and creative processes, using a participatory action research approach together with various partners (public schools, fab lab spaces, maker spaces, theaters, museums, public institutions, among others). Her recent publications include 'Children’s Conversation with Experience: Making Emotional Imprints' (Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children) and 'Prototyping a Designerly Learning through Authentic Making Activities in Elementary Classrooms' (with F. Decortis, International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, Vol. 16).