Author Archives: michelleguarino

About michelleguarino

A curious observer, explorer and designer.

Individual Project/Ideas

One of my interviews really inspired me. The person we spoke to talked about the root of the problem being support, through family, through your neighborhood, and without that support people make poor decisions. He said that people constantly talk about how they don’t know what’s happening in their neighborhood, and said, if he had the resources we would find a way to create the connections between the people who need support and those who are giving it.

I wonder what opportunities can be created, there are several websites that talk about pittsburgh arts events, music events and lectures, but not really support or local events.


Within my individual project I’m interested in building empathy through narratives and perspectives.

I’m really captivated by an individuals personal experience with guns, whether it be, hunting, debating suicide, ownership, accident. Empathy seems to be the biggest disconnection between guns and people because of the distance between the shooter and victim, it’s seen that the gun is committing the act of violence not the person. To me, it seems like the best way to build empathy on the gun issue is through storytelling.

I want to understand people’s relationship’s to their guns, if their friends, foes, or enemies. Do they scare or protect? Do they share the blame? How do people talk about their gun experiences good and bad? And then with these answers I want to see if other people can relate to these answers, so that hopefully they can build a more full perspective for themselves.

I want to create an open space that promotes sharing without aggressive debate or bashing.

CMU has a facebook site called CMU Confessions, where people confess anything they want to other students. It’s supportive at times, scary, unsupportive and also misused. But the defining factors of the site are very interesting, a lot of people read it to find something they relate to and for entertainment. If there was a gun version we could get some very interesting data from what’s collected, but it could become out of hand depending on comments and arguments which could ruin the site.

It would also be curious to see other, more local methods, of attaining this information Possibly through submitting postcards to overcome the limitations of technology. However their could be issues with users wanting to be anonymous, but then it could be as simple as becoming a voice recorder, or a place where you can handwrite your stories.

The information gathered also helps humanize statistics through telling and sharing stories.

In Class Project with Danielle: If 6 People are shot 5 live (1 dies)

As we were discussing this statistic, we became interested in the idea of how it relates to time and how to get these individuals to relate to death and living as two things, each with serious consequences.

We also were inspired by where you can see these different crimes happen to a date, but when those locations are really related to a place, by a photo, how that changes how a person relates to it. We also became interested in communicating how the story continues, is it possible to show the hospital visit, the psychological issues, the funeral costs.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 3.58.52 PM

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 3.59.03 PM

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 3.59.14 PM

Design Fiction Ideas

After our conversation today I was really inspired by the idea that weapons can be concealed or not concealed.

What if guns were so normalized that everyone carried around guns? How would people today react to me, a 21 year old white girl, carrying a gun openly? What area or time of date would be safe for me to carry a gun openly? What makes it alright to carry a gun openly?

What if guns were liable? What if insurance increased for owning a gun or multiple guns? How much money would be saved in healthcare? Would the visible risk factor, make people not want to own a gun?

My Design Fiction from Playlab

Last semester I created a design fiction focusing on making people more responsible and accountable for gun use.

My design turned out to be a system that broke down the relationship between a bullet, gun, person, and a database of collected information. The goal was to please both sides of the issue, something that would help hunters and trainers while regulate inappropriate gun use.

I have always been interested in gun rights because people feel very strongly no matter what side they’re on. I’m also very curious about the humanity aspect behind guns, because a person’s view on gun rights gives insights to how they trust, their outlooks of human nature and also leads to sharing what’s most important to them.

The gun takes an image of both the user and what’s being shot at.

A gun can only be used by the registered user who bought it, otherwise it will not react or a gun can only be used by registered users in the state.
The gun will not allow criminals to use guns depending on sentencing and crime.
The gun has geotags on both the gun and the bullets. Records the trajectory of the bullet.

The Bullet and the Gun have a relationship where they can speak to each other.
The bullet tells the gun the location of the bullet, if the bullet hit anything, what the material it hit was and if there is any pulse information.
The bullet can tell if it hits a human pulse- if it does it calls 911 and reports the location and images and audio
What if the gun and the human were connected emotionally. Or the gun acted as “siri” – and could tell if there was malicious intent or unwell holder. Conversation is recorded.
What if the user had to reason with the gun and prove that their actions are necessary and the gun needs to be shot.

All of this information can then be sent to a database with a sorting algorithm that sorts the data for potential high risk situations: a gun being shot off multiple times, a gun being show that hasn’t been shot for several years.

Officers must also follow all of the gun policies so that no one stands above it. Like, everyone else their gun fires are also recorded and sent to the collective database, but flagged as police use.

The database could be even more structured. Categorizing why the buyer buys the gun and the uses for each shot. Each fire has to then be registered at latest 48 hours so that the database is organized by uses. And reason + location can also begin to alert the database.

I’m hoping to balance both pro-gun and anti-gun user’s to please both of them.

Police reports of snapshots of gun users and stories. Red flag Alerts within the database.
An informational pamplet/booklet that explains the gun + bullet relationship – trying to make each side happy
A guide on how to use the database.
A privacy statement (like the online privacy statements everyone accepts from apple, without reading)

________________________MY FINAL PIECE

It was difficult to get the voice of the NRA in the image. As I looked through their site and asked people’s opinion on the NRA, I was surrounded by students who viewed them negatively. Their website generally attacked different policies and people who opposed their own opinions and everything was designed differently. Since they are supposed to support my piece, I tried to make the information and language as simple as possible just to state what it is and how it works, rather than having it speak too negatively or too positively, to not turn any viewers off, by the extreme nature of the language.

The goal for the visuals was to make it easy for viewers to distinguish the mood of the piece as serious and calm, from a far, as well as notice the subject of bullets. I experimented with different materials with different textures such as cardboard and paper. But when the material was too recognizable it became a little distracting, so I tried to make the paper look very simplistic and graphic.

I really enjoyed coming up with the system for this piece. It was fun to think about the different possibilities that we can do with today’s technology and then adding on things that aren’t possible but were curious possibilities with the goal of adding responsibility to guns. I enjoyed looking at it from the perspective of a user-gun-bullet relationship because of the phrase “people don’t kill people, guns kill people” because in the end should the user, gun and bullet all be responsible instead?

People were rather entertained by the ideas and asked a lot of questions. There were a few things that I hadn’t originally thought of like what to do with automatic guns and possibly other weapons in the marketplace, which would be interesting things to work on moving forward. Reflecting on this project I think it would be interesting to do a piece on how this proposal would go wrong. Just because quite a few people were agreeing and nodding their heads in agreement, but as I said earlier this piece won’t do well with pro-gun Americans, so I would like to take an in depth look at all the problems that could arise and really speak to pro-gun Americans to find out what they dislike and why they dislike specific options in this proposal.



Guns in Society

url-1I’ve always been interested in gun culture. It’s strange how society reacts to guns.

Something to think about: Dick Cheney shot a man accidentally while hunting. Instead of being concerned for the person shot. People laughed about it, making fun of Cheney and photoshopping several different photos, however, no one really reflected on the idea that they were laughing at someone being shot and hurt, even me.

gaga-gun-braWe’ve been so conditioned to see guns in movies and media, that they seem very normal, but from those movies they’re categorized in so many different ways that it’s hard to truly understand what we think of them. They’re sexy, dangerous, powerful, scary, protective.


My Experience

I’ve had a few encounters with guns in my life. A few more than I would have expected.

Growing up I usually only saw guns in movies. Through pop-culture they were viewed as protection, sexy, dangerous, threatening, power. All of which slightly disagreed with each other.

My first experience, was not really mine, but a friends. When I went to her house for the first time, she gave us a tour, but we only peaked into one room, the gun room. It was lined with different guns in different cases. I never really thought more of it, if my parents would have cared, if it was normal. Two- three years later, I had visited her house a lot and we were good friends. One day, her dad had gone to the shooting range, but while he was shooting, he slipped and when he hit the ground, the gun backfired. No one focused on the gun, the gun accident was almost accepted, nothing could have prevented it. After reading Chapter 3 in Private Guns and Public Health, looking back, I’m so surprised nothing more was said about gun safety, gun prevention. It wasn’t questioned, however, like the chapter says, if a child is hurt moving a soccer net, it creates an uproar in society to be unsafe and unfit, and calls for redesign.

My second experience is heartbreaking. You always hear about school shootings, but my experience, was never called that, although it was school property, it was called domestic violence. It was 4 period, which depending on your schedule can either be our lunch hour or a class, I was in my art class. The school com came on and announced a code black in a very hushed quiet voice, but the thing was, we had never heard of a code black, none of us knew what it was, what that meant. Code red meant an intruder, another code meant hurricane, but black? We were all unsure, our teacher immediately closed the door, and immediately, none of new what was happening. Our professor told us we were allowed to use our phones if we wanted, which was odd, because usually if you had it out you were reported to the principal. But instead of us calling our parents, our parents started calling us. We were on the news, for gun shots being fired. We all waited, quietly, waiting for the code to be lifted, waiting for news. The door opened and a crying student walked in, she was shaking and her words weren’t forming. She spoke of the lunch room windows, shots, a girl and a man. The professor quickly ushered her into her office.

The code black was lifted and as we changed classes there were whispers about helicopters, about half the school took the rest of the day off.

Later, it was explained to us. A student, who had transferred to our school for only two weeks, was shot 5 times in our parking lot. Her mother witnessing the event, drove her car in between her daughter and the shooter to stop the event. Her ex-boyfriend was the shooter and father of the child she was pregnant with. It was said that he had stolen the gun from his mother and had stop taking his bi-polar medication. He committed suicide after shooting her five times. She was flown to the nearest hospital where her and her baby survived.

And then my last experience was guns was this thanksgiving. We have family friends in Texas who shoot regularly at the shooting range. He wanted to teach us how to properly and safely handle a gun. He told us his personal stories, the different guns he owns. And what it means to be a gun owner in Texas. He was proud of his right to own a gun, to practice, and to feel safe and protected in his own home. He told us his family history with guns and spoke about the ones that had been passed down to him. He showed us how he stores his guns separately from ammunition, locked up in separate rooms. Shooting on a range is a skill to him and owning a gun gives him a sense of pride, confidence and protection.

I’m not exactly sure what I think yet on the overall issue. Private Guns and Public Health deemed that there are three ways that guns deaths can be categorized: accidental, suicidal and homicidal and I’ve experienced all three to some degree. I do like the idea of a gunless society, but it’s not the right answer for the America. We need to find a way to make both parties happy or at least make our ideas tolerable.



Social Networks Discussions


Since the connecticut incident my friends on facebook have been sharing their opinions  Some blame mental illness in the health system, others place it on gun policy, and some say that it’s one incident and nothing should change. This was one of the most recent post and conversations. I’ve found that on facebook people generally try not to disagree, if you agree people like it and continue to agree within commentary. Unless of course it’s anonymous.