Bar of the Resistance
Master of Fine Arts Thesis Preface
I explored the United States corporate beer Industry by specifically focusing on corporate capitalism as the modern day colonialist mechanism that enforces cultural hegemony on the craft beer industry. Corporate brewers such as Anheuser Busch InBev have culturally homogenized the craft beer industry by using pay to play measures to ensure brand exclusivity, created an illusion of choice through buying up craft breweries and reinforced a false perception of locality in their brand mergers and marketing. In turn these efforts have detrimentally shifted and displaced craft beer culture, which has impacted many members of the craft beer community particularly those that I have defined as Craftivists. They are reverent members of the craft beer community who feel personally impacted by corporate acquisitions of craft breweries and have witnessed their cultures change because of it.
Bar of the Resistance is a cultural critique that brings to light what the U.S. corporate beer industry has intentionally obfuscated. The bar is a training environment that fosters cultural consciousness in consumers and showcases tools of the resistance that enable devout craftivists to express their agency against both corporate capitalism and cultural hegemony. Through extensive research with members of the craft beer community, I discovered that knowledge exchange became a means of power and cultural resilience. Using the modality of media design, I pursued three veins to cultivate culturally conscious consumers: Craftivist Tools, Game Play and Consumer Curation. These veins are showcased below in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent work and ending with the work that served as the initial design inquiry.
*The glass pieces within the Craftivist Tools vein were made collaboratively with Uri Davillier of Neptune Glasswork.
*For a more in-depth look into the process and ideation behind Bar of the Resistance, visit my thesis tumblr: amandathesisjensen.tumblr.com
*To read my master's thesis paper entitled, Corporate Colonization: The U.S. Beer Industry's Convolution of Locality, visit the Writing section of my website.
The third and final vein that used media design to cultivate cultural consciousness in consumers.
The following suite of glassware demonstrates the visceral conviction craftivists feel toward craft breweries that sell out to massive beer brewers by purposefully deterring drinkers from consuming craft beer that is now owned by corporate conglomerates. The tulip glass in particular reflects the change in taste and quality after being bought out. What was once a rare, sought after, yearly released bourbon infused stout is now scoffed at due to becoming commercial, accessible and off from its original taste profile. The shaker pint disables drinkers from consuming craft beer that corporate brewers have acquired by either gradually seeping out of the glasses bottom or spilling everywhere.
Through the literal melting of two craft beer brands with the corporate brewer centralized, this piece tangibly demonstrates both the brand and cultural morphology of craft breweries that sold out and also explores the convolution and indescribably of where craft and corporate beer brands begin and end.
Fine Print Coasters
These coasters appear ordinary but when flipped reveal in fine print the implications of each breweries mergers and acquisitions and allude to how it has affected craft culture.
Modeling graffiti stickers in street art that are used to promote or comment on political agendas, policy or issues, these stickers enable craftivists to tag craft breweries with their true owners.
Cautionary Tap Handle
This tap handle uses auditory action to communicate the true identity of the craft beer and calls attention to the beer’s name as an allegory for the corporate brewers as being wolves among the weeds ready and waiting to acquire and control craft breweries and their cultures.
The second vein that used media design to cultivate cultural consciousness in consumers.
Who Owns Who?
Who Owns Who? is a 52 card deck of ownership. Each card features a craft brewery on one side but when flipped the card reveals the true owner of the brewery. This prototype interrogates themes of ownership, ourness and the notion of true authenticity versus manufactured authenticity that exists within both corporate beer culture.
Local Brewery Championship Bracket
Modeled after the NCAA college basketball bracket, the Local Brewery Championship Bracket repositions choosing locality through the lens of competition. Each bracket was created for and tested in two different regions of California; Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The 16 breweries are ranked in order of highest bbls (barrels) produced in 2015. The brackets also reveal who owns the breweries and where they are located. The prototype also featured a “Reasons for Elimination” component that enabled participants could choose from either provided reasons or they could write their own.
BREWNOPOLY uses satire and subversion to critically explicate how corporate capitalism was affecting the beer industry globally within Mexico. The board game explores themes of craft brewers that sell out, corporate brewers that buy out, pay to play and the illusion of choice. There is a standard six-sided die with differing images of corporate and craft brands that is rolled at the start of the game. This die roll determines if game players are either a corporate or craft brewer. The street properties on the game board reflect existing brewery and beer pub locations of both corporate brewers and craft brewers. The currency within the game is converted from monopoly money to Mexican pesos.
The Chance and Community Chest cards oppose the notion that the corporate brewers will inherently win the game. The cards allow for each brewer to reflect on their positionality and how easy or natural it can be to compromise within the industry. The reality of craft brewers as the underdog within Mexican beer industry is by no means an exaggeration given they hold less than 1% market share within the country. However, BREWNOPOLY postulates that corporate brewers are perhaps not the only sinister players in the game or industry.
The first and intial vein that used media design to cultivate cultural consciousness in consumers.
Your Local takes the notion of locality one step further in that the actual ingredients of beer are metaphoric translations of Dr. Schnell’s nine views of local. Your Local flips the preordained capitalistic notion of hegemonic, mass production within the beer industry on its head by highlighting the very nature of locality through the participant’s curation of the beer they consume.
Nearly all beer consists of four fundamental ingredients: Water, Yeast, Grains, and Hops. Considering these main ingredients, the participant chooses the most important views of local that they personally feel should be reflected in their beer. Additionally, they can choose from a variety of ingredients such as Cocoa, Honey or Cinnamon, which can serve as the remaining views of local. For example, by choosing Water as Transparent the participant believed that because water makes up 95% of beer that a brewery’s transparency is extremely vital to the community it operates within.
A speculative beer simulation that reflects through color the convolution tactics of the corporate beer industry. Different shades of food coloring represent local characteristics and soda water stands in for beers owned by either corporate breweries, craft breweries or corporate owned craft breweries. The food coloring added to the cups changes the transparent and unclouded hue to colors such as blue or purple, making it difficult for participants to determine what aspects of “local” are present within their beer.
A participant begins Udefine by choosing from six bottles that have their brand labels concealed.These brands consist of two corporate beer brands, two craft beer brands, and two craft beer brands that are partially or fully owned by corporate brewers. By blindly choosing a beer, the participant pours it into the clear cup, tastes it and determines what aspects of locality they believe should be added. The local drops reference the nine views of local determined by Dr. Stephen M. Schnell’s research on Neolocalism. The participant can choose to add drops such as Non-Global or Transparent to the soda water in an effort to make the beer reflect their values of local.
Media Design Practices Thesis Exhibition
After a year long deep dive exploring the U.S. beer industry and working alongside members of the craft beer community, my design research was translated into a gallery setting and was exhibited amongst the thesis work of my fellow colleagues at the Wind Tunnel Gallery in Pasadena, California from April 13th - April 22nd.