Inês Matos
Isabel Cunha
Larissa Gomes
Madalena Lopes
Marta Saavedra

Project II
MA — Communication Design
Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon

follow us on instagram: @emergent_narratives

Five design students dived into the impacts and transformations provoked by new media in society. Each of them chose an approach: Work, Archives, Web-Navigation, Psychological Targeting and Dissemination of Fake Information. In the middle of their research and explorations, a pandemic forced them into quarantine. The world became quiet and the buzz of the streets, parks and cafés got transferred to the network of cables, antennas and satellites that constitute the global machine of communication. Society and sociality became completely dependent on the web and on the interactive devices that connect us to it.

The house, supposedly a source of freedom, became the target of mixed feelings: walls separate the Man from the city, thus protect him from the microscopic droplets of virus that drift in the air. But, in the context of involuntary incarceration, the walls become source of anxiety, insomnia and depression. The pandemic stimulates a rush towards objects that prevent, protect and cure us from the spreading of the disease; It also provokes a search for objects capable of comforting and relieving the feelings that arise from isolation.

In the midst of this life confusion and in the search for objects, the 5 students adapted their ways of working and living. Collectively, they decided to design a series of objects that elicit stories that connect the pandemic and each of their individual researches. The objects don’t actually cure any disease, instead, their aim is to provide some sort of reflective experience.


bubble earphones

Bubble earphones can be used to make calls, audio recordings, listen to music and spread news. They provide a feeling of peace by blocking noises, voices and isolation from outside informations, allowing you to choose what to listen. To make the most of your earphones, place them comfortably on your ears and fine-tune the volume accordingly. Focus on your own line of thoughts and ignore information from outside. Use them all day. Attention: this object may cause a sense of exile and solitude. In more extreme cases it can reinforce your world views and make you unbearable to others.

Disinformation allows people to be easily controlled.

disinformation distribution

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes*

Post-truth / Disinformation / Production / Manipulation / Dissemination / Fake news
— Larissa Gomes

+ view project

In the last decade, terms like fake news and post-truth have become part of our daily lives, bringing new meaning to the phrase by Mark Twain* that gives the subtitle to this project. News produced by conventional means of communication such as traditional newspapers, research institutes and colleges share space with unofficial versions, conspiracy theories and rumors.

Fake news played an important role and influenced several political and social events in recent years: the victory of Brexit with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, or the election of political figures such as Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, are examples of the massive impact of dynamics of disinformation. This mechanics is felt in the resurgence of themes such as fascism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, climate change and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.

In recent months, the new coronavirus has also become the target of disinformation with significant scale and impacts. Social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, are among the main platforms for spreading false news, with distorted interpretations of data, censorship of information, fantastic promises of cure, among others. The lack of knowledge about the production and dissemination processes makes society more vulnerable to manipulation, since disinformation allows people to be easily controlled.

The Disinformation Distribution project aims to explore the construction and dissemination phases of fake news, allowing the user to perceive in a participatory way the cycle of creation and propagation of false information related to the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be done by asking questions about the sources of different types of information, their scope and consequences.

By highlighting the ephemeral relationship between news and truth, the objective of the game is to raise awareness about the scale of disinformation, promoting reflection on its consequences.


efficiency diffuser

This is a solidary object, designed to make your daily grind more relaxed and efficient. The diffuser cube is placed near your workstation and the circular object in contact with your skin, like a ring. The circular object continuously measures your heartbeat and every time it senses your body becoming stressed it sends a wireless signal to the cube. The diffuser cube receives and interprets the intensity of the signal and regulates itself. It then uses ultrasonic waves to vaporise a chemical specially designed to help you relax and stay focused. The efficiency diffuser helps you avoid overworking side-effects and keeps you on the track to achieve all your professional goals.

electronic devices become our window to the world but they are also source of anxiety, stress and self-exploitation

desk dilemmas

labor pains and pleasures

Work / Leisure / Human / Machine / Hyper-industrial
— Madalena Lopes

+ view project

Work is the lending of one’s time in exchange for a salary and for the right to enjoy the products of labour and nature. In scarcity contexts, people are obliged to work to buy their basic survival but in the Western context of excess, work has become something else. It is now a core element of our identity, a hybrid of dedication and alienation, power and oppression, pride and shame, fulfilment and drudgery. These mixed feelings and the introduction of digital media in the workplace are promoting a feeling of schizophrenia around work and, simultaneously, blurring the distinctions between work and leisure, producer and consumer. Material goods, services, supply chains, applications, software and hardware become part of a coherent whole — according to Bernard Stiegler symptoms of the hyper-industrial world we live in.

Desk Dilemmas: Labour Pains and Pleasures,invites the viewer to explore a digital archipelago of current work paradigms. The user’s interaction reveals an implicit critique to the exploitation and precarity that each of them perpetuates. Through the metaphorical potential of the artworks that inspired the process of representation, the critique is extended. Ultimately, the project aims to start a reflection on the influence of digital media in invisible labour, labour flexibilization, playbour, refusal of labour, remote labour and the end of labour.


narcissus mirror

Narcissus Mirror can aid your online experience by keeping track of your digital counterpart. Simultaneously, it can work as a portal to the thoughts and experiences from the past and/or present time. Be aware, as this object may cause discomfort that translates into dissociation from reality or an overwhelming sense of self. It can also cause, in extreme situations, disorientation and somnambulism. There’s also a risk of becoming the reflection’s extensive servant. To get the best out of your Narcissus Mirror, sit or stand in front of it, turn on your smartphone or laptop and place it in proximity to the mirror. Pay close attention to your every movement and small actions. The Narcissus Mirror is going to show you how you are perceived online.

We are who our reflection tell us we are.


on algorithms and digital identities

digital footprint / data surveillance / psychological targeting / personalization
— Inês Matos

+ view project

When the “Facebook–Cambridge Analytica scandal” made headlines in 2018, suddenly the term “data surveillance” caught the public’s attention. People realised that they were being profiled according to their social media history. The pages and posts users reacted to, who they befriended and even what they would post online, were being stored and analysed by algorithms.

People suddenly realised that it is possible to use the data collected to determine their psychological profiles and guess aspects of their lives that they most likely never shared online, like their sexual orientation or economic status. This was eventually used to target and segment voters according to their political orientations in the 2016 United States presidential election and in deciding the future of the UK in the European Union (Brexit).

It is now clear that we are living in a world where data science and the field of psychology combined can track down user’s every move. This is possible due to the digital traces left by users, such as geolocation and behavioural data. That data is then used by companies to create personalised advertisements accordingly. As a result, our online experience is being tailored.

This project aims to bring attention to the use of psychological targeting that is done through people’s digital footprints. In Personality-Mining, the user assumes the role of the algorithm in revealing the identities of the different personas. Each persona was developed according to the OCEAN Personality Trait model used to classify users, and their attributes were supported by analysing American citizen’s behavioural data.

The user is faced with a game simulation that seeks to explore exhaustive data collected and analysed by algorithms and to raise awareness to how our privacy is being compromised.


impregnable byobu

The Impregnable Byobu blocks spying and tracking threats providing full privacy at any time. Simultaneously, it shields the environment from direct daylight whenever its necessary, allowing you to rest. It also blocks spying and tracking from external threats, facilitating a safe navigation. As side effect, this object may cause a reaction to your digital experience, leaving the impression of isolation, and social exclusion. Before navigating online lower the BLINDS. Use it whenever it's necessary. It can also be applied when using mobile devices.

Long exposure to online devices compromises our safety and identity.

digital (de)colonialism

we are what we search, publish, like

Filter Bubble / Eco Chambers / User Data / Surveillance / Digital Colonialism / Algorithmic Pattern Discrimination
— Marta Saavedra

+ view project

Exploring the topic of the decolonization of digital spaces and the concerns over online privacy and user data, this project seeks to raise awareness for changes in behaviour practices while navigating the web. Under the form of a game, this project is divided in three sections: the first part of the game, where the player is sensitized for the problems around personal information and user data storage; the second part, which works as a transition for the third part, and where the player can find a skill-book with valid information both for the game and for his own online navigation practices; and finally the third part, which works as a metaphor for a parity between everyday life and online situations, and where the player finishes his journey.

During the second and third part of the game, several concepts are introduced in the narrative, such as eco chambers and the filter bubble. The last one is a term coined by Eli Pariser, and represents the idea of a state of intellectual isolation derived from a personalized online navigation. The intention of this project is to give several tools to the player so he can learn how to break free from this bubble, which is present on our digital lives since we (internet users) were introduced to the Web 2.0 and its control from social media.


shield library

Shield Library provides protection and a comfortable and peaceful sensation. Simultaneously, it is intended to keep you safe and in touch with reality, spreading knowledge and keeping memories protected. It is useful to combat: anxiety, stress, and non-productivity or creative block; lack of knowledge or information; lack of memory. For its tranquilizing and erudite character it is often used as a pretext for a very convenient place. In more abusive cases it can be used with a background, the effects of which can be more severe, and can cause damage to third parties by manipulating or hiding reality.

We are always looking for places that reinforce our identity and protect it.

shaping memories

Filtering. Shaping. Connecting.

archive / database / memory / identity / sharing / mediating
— Isabel Cunha

+ view project

The archive is an integral part of our identity as an individual or collective, it is a universe through which memory is organized and keeps traces of the past present. The archive connects and defines us, as a (re) active mediator of cultural memory. Although, traditionally, it is understood as an inert and inactive space, due to its intrinsic practice of archiving and storing, the archive is, and should be, perceived beyond a simple repository. The closer we get and observe its structure and mechanics, we realize that interpreting the archive as a passive storage space becomes reductive. The creation of narratives is at the heart of the archive, being a permeable universe that can be (re)interpreted and, thus, generate new readings. The exploration and manipulation of its elements reconfigures the archive and makes it alive. It is in this dimension that the archive manifests its plurality and potential, without diminishing or destroying it, and it prevails over the idea of inertia.

Shaping Memories seeks to (re)think the archive, recognizing its mediating value, while reconfiguring its formal elements and, thus, dynamically reproducing new readings and meanings of the archive. The project consists of a digital archive that aggregates projects developed in the Communication Design department of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon. The dynamic exploration of contents generated by the search filters allows different interactions with the archive, combined with different types of visualization and mutable grid. This exploration dynamics promotes new readings of the contents and emancipates the archive from its static condition.