A central aspect of our research is a concern with designing, art production, and making as a form of inquiry and knowledge production. We align ourselves here with an expanding body of work in the areas of research through design, critical making, critical design, feminist HCI, and multi-sited design.
In doing so, we pay particular attention to pay attention to the question of participation, inclusion, the creation of publics, and the engagement with diverse people, societies, and cultures. We perform designerly interventions, critical making projects, and artistic production in partnership with a range of actors. The outcome of this work is diverse including exhibitions, writings, prototypes, conferences, and workshops.
ani-mate (cindy lin)
ani-mate foregrounds the significance of working with our non-human counterparts, attending, sensing and listening to their actions to generate designerly and conceptual correspondences where they matter. Where biological actors are concerned, this exploration has playfully documented, mapped and examined the reverberations and recursive relationships shared between humans and inverbertrates. It has attended to the trails and traces of Plectostoma snail extinction in Borneo and snail hunting laws in Paris through such sonic and designerly undertakings: human epiphragm prototype ver 1.0 (Paris and Singapore) and (Re)Thinking Invasive Alien Species (Singapore).
This project not only considers our entanglements with biological and ‘living’ companions, but also other abiotic and ‘non-living’ actors such as electricity, undersea cables and weather. ani-mate considers how design is not primarily a human preoccupation, but one that is often in composition with other actors. Doing so opens up space to reconsider who makes and where ‘good’ and ‘pioneering’ design is located. To think with Anna Tsing (2013), ani-mate invites us to considers ways of “unintended design” where actors’ “lifeways come together with or without intentionality, goodwill, enmity, or even noticing each other”.
Workshop as Research Method (Stefanie Wuschitz, Silvia Lindnter)
Conducting workshops is a method to explore new ideas, see how they grow and change in interaction with other people. In a workshop situation, concentration is focused and group dynamics enhance creativity and critical thinking. The setting is mostly simple, a table, chairs, a room or a dedicated area, a few slides and DIY materials. A workshop usually provides an open environment, that foster exchange, so people can take risks, try out something unknown, unacceptable, outrageous. It is quite rewarding to get active, build prototypes together, share experiences or spend time on storytelling. In a different level workshops present a strategy to pool participants’ resources, connect to relevant persons in a certain field, bridge gaps among citizens, generate peer-to-peer networks. It is a tool to receive feedback and bounce off new ideas, test reactions to findings, develop new practices. A workshop functions as an experimental framework in which participants are pushed to question habits or play with norms, such as e.g. gender norms. Common demands might manifest themselves and lead to a shared cause or agenda. Sometimes participants of a workshop decide to form a group that lasts for years. Situated knowledge gained in a workshop can – if translated into meaningful field notes – ground empirical findings.
Multisited Design (Silvia Lindtner, Seyram Avle, cindy lin)
Multisited design is an analytical lens to unpack transnational connections and frictions between diverse sites of research and design. Bringing together multisited ethnography from the anthropology tradition and critical approaches to design and computing from the HCI tradition, multisited design begins with the stipulation that processes of design are deeply culturally, historically and regionally situated while recognizing their entanglement in transregional collaborations, exchanges, and politics. Multisited design provides an approach to how processes of designing and making can function as central to research and knowledge production. Design in multisited design is part and parcel of ethnographic research rather than its product. Multisited design, in this sense, is closely aligned with adjacent projects such as critical making and research through design by attempting to break with the more common binary split between theory and practice, material production and knowledge production, critical theory and product design, affirmative design and critical design, but pays particular attention to cross-regional and multi-sited aspects and processes of design.