Doing and Undoing Post-Anthropocentric Design

Alongside Li Jönsson, Martín Tironi and Pablo Hermansen, I’m chairing the DRS 2022 Bilbao track Doing and Undoing Post-Anthropocentric Design.

Here’s the track abstract:

In an often referenced keynote lecture for the Networks of Design, Latour (2008) introduced the titan Prometheus, who defaced the gods and gave fire to humanity, as a symbol of modernism for the design community. If the Greek titan inflamed progress by disruptive innovation, radically breaking the more-than-human order of the Gods, the opposite, namely, to design from within, mediating and negotiating in a careful and modest way, is to contest progress and its powers.

Consequently, we want to encourage design researchers to go along with Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus. Often depicted as the foolish brother, he was in fact the one giving each mortal creature the equipment it would need to live well, favoring reproduction over production, careful transformations over disruptive ones.

Doing and Undoing Post-Anthropocentric Design calls upon design researchers to critically share experiences where the reproduction of democratic and sustainables forms of more-than-human coexistence are in play. We encourage a special attention to socio-ecological transformation and situated embeddedness. As Bellacasa (2017) asks, ‘What does caring mean when we go about thinking and living interdependently with beings other than human, in “more-than-human” worlds?’ What are the ‘Arts of living on a damaged planet?’ (Tsing et al 2017).

We hope this Theme Track will assemble provocative experiences and reflections, which address questions such as: What are the implications of designing on a planet in ruins? What needs to be undesigned, and how? What design-research instruments and repertories could promote reproduction over production, careful transformations over disruptive ones? How to design futures beyond the idea of human progress?

References

  • De la Cadena, M. & Blaser, M. (2018) ‘A World of Many Worlds’. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Haraway, D. J. (2016) ‘Staying with the trouble’. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Hermansen, P., Tironi, M. (2021) Cosmopolitical interventions: prototyping inter-species encounters. In Rucker, Stanley; Roberts-Smith, Jennifer and Radzikowska, Milena. (Eds). Prototyping Across the Disciplines. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books. pp. 22-44.
  • Hillgren, P.-A., Lindström, K., Strange, M., Witmer, H., Chronaki, A., Ehn, P., … Westerlaken, M. (2020) ‘Glossary: Collaborative Future-Making’.
  • Jönsson, L., Light, A., Lindström, K., Ståhl, Å., & Tham, M. (2019) How Can We Come to Care in and Through Design? Proceedings of the 8th Bi-Annual Nordic Design Research Society Conference: Who Cares?, 1–8.
  • Latour, B. (2008) A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design (with Special Attention to Peter Sloterdijk). In J. G. Fiona Hackne & V. Minto (Eds), Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of the Design History Society (p./pp. 2-10), Florida: Universal Publishers.
  • Puig de la Bellacasa, M. (2017) ‘Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds’. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press. 
  • Tironi, M., Hermansen, P.  (2020) Prototipando la coexistencia: diseños para futuros interespecie. ARQ, no. 106: 38-47.
  • Tsing, A. L., Bubandt, N., Gan, E., & Swanson, H. A. (Eds). (2017) ‘Arts of living on a damaged planet’. University of Minnesota Press.