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Session Overview
Doing and undoing post-anthropocentric design
Wednesday, 29/June/2022:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Li Jönsson, Malmö University
Session Chair: Martín Tironi, Pontificie Universidad Católica de Chile
Session Chair: Pablo Hermansen, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Session Chair: Alex Wilkie, Goldsmiths University of London
Location: BA06 Bizkaia Aretoa_Room Baroja, 2nd floor

Main venue, Second floor

This session will continue until 10:45 as it has 6 paper presentations.

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Pablo Hermansen, Martín Tironi

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile

To sustainably coexist with other ontologies, human beings must overcome the perception of being the center of the world. This article describes how a video log refuted the initial – anthropocentric – hypothesis explaining the breakdown of an experiment with Judy and Gombe, chimpanzees that inhabit the National Zoo of Chile. This shows that it is wrong to ascribe human affects and reactions to other ontologies, and also that there is a long way to go to apprehend, comprehend, and sustainable coexist with other ontologies in more-than-human ecosystems.

Design beyond the human world of management and organizations: Towards a cosmology for the Anthropocene

Emmanuel Bonnet1, Diego Landivar1, Alexandre Monnin1, Ulises Navarro Aguiar2

1ESC Clermont Business School, France; 2HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

In this paper, we intend to make explicit the shared ontological foundation of design and management and question them in light of the advent of the Anthropocene. To do so, we first draw these disciplines closer before qualifying their common ground as an underlying “cosmology they share”. This cosmology is characterized by the centrality of the notion of organization. We argue that design as well as design knowledge must be assessed with regards to this peculiar cosmology. We call for the need to go beyond what we call the “monism of organizations” or the “organized world”. We propose a new direction for design oriented equally a) toward the organized world, setting the task of suitably deconstructing it or properly shutting it down, and b) towards the Earth itself, in search of a new, more adequate cosmology and more sustain-able forms of life rather than trying to hubristically improve the habitability of the world.

Narrating Ecological Grief and Hope Through Reproduction and Translations

Li Jönsson, Kristina Lindström

Malmö University, Sweden

The Swedish government has decided that Sweden will become carbon neutral by 2045. What are the implications for us as citizens in such a transition? What formats allow us to favour careful transformation over progress through radical innovation? In this paper, we attempt to understand grief and hope in the context of this transition. We describe a designerly format of re-production and translation aimed at collectively working through potential future changes, uncertainties and loss. Influenced by plaster moulding techniques used at a closed-down pottery, we invite participants to reproduce and translate original animal and plant motifs into present circumstances. These practical hands-on engagements allow us to notice and articulate change in relation to the past and orient ourselves towards uncertain futures. Hope can be found in the ruins of industries, in locally produced alternative energies and in small-scale attempts to undo biodiversity loss.

Making-with the environment through more-than-human design

Berilsu Tarcan, Ida Nilstad Pettersen, Ferne Edwards

NTNU, Norway

Current climate and ecological crises require questioning currently dominant under-standings and relations to nonhumans. While design is a human-centered field and practice, many intruders or competing theories challenge human-centered ap-proaches and propose ways to include nonhumans in design. This article explores different perspectives for post-anthropocentric design approaches and focuses on how design can approach the notion more-than-human as an intruder to human-centered design. Proposing practice-based studies of making-with the environment as an alternative to human-centered design, it explores how to design beyond ideas of “human progress”. Firstly, more-than-human and related concepts are introduced. Secondly, how human-centered design can be challenged is explained through the concept of core theories and intruders, relating it with “more-than-human” and posthuman theories. Afterwards, traditional knowledge is introduced as a concept to explore more-than-human approaches, and a case study is introduced as a post-anthropocentric making activity. The case study demonstrates that designers should acknowledge and listen to traditional and indigenous knowledges, while shifting to a more-than-human design approach.

Shitty stories: Experimenting with probiotic participation through design

Tau Lenskjold, Danielle Wilde

SDU, Denmark

The Shit! project brings focus to the human-gut microbiome, to consider how we might move towards more harmonious coexistence with the uncountable microscopic entities that inhabit our gut. The work recognizes humans as multi-species assemblages, and the Western scientific models that form how we conceptualize, measure and engage with ourselves as embodied species, insufficient to account for the multiplicity of relational scales at play. We present a workshop undertaken with the Danish Colitis and Crohn’s Patient Association that converges food, fæces and performativity. We position this work as an exploration of what we provisionally term probiotic participation through design. Framed as a collective inquiry, the workshop examines the potential of multispecies narratives among people suffering from chronic gastrointestinal disorders. We argue that one avenue towards better human-gut microbiome co-existence could be threaded through participatory, material and embodied design engagements—with fæces—caught up in and entangled with participants’ other concerns.

Why would I ever fry and eat my SCOBY? It would be like murder! – Attuning to nonhumans through kombucha fermentation practices

Aybars Senyildiz1, Emilija Veselova2

1Department of Design, Aalto University, Finland; 2NODUS Sustainable Design Research Group, Department of Design, Aalto University, Finland

Kombucha fermentation is a multispecies activity guided by human-microbe interactions. This study investigates kombucha fermentation practices as a platform to recognize relationality with nonhuman microbes. For this, relational theories enable reframing human-microbe relations by focusing on reciprocity and interconnectedness within multispecies relations. The empirical research consists of interviews, a design probing task, and a collective reflection workshop with kombucha brewers. The empirical research delivers insights into the agency of microbes, sensory experiences, and embodied knowledge in kombucha fermentation practices. Findings investigate how humans attune to the needs of microbes, and the role of embeddedness in ethical doings. In this way, the study explores alternative ways of relating to nonhumans beyond prevalent human exceptionalist mindsets in design and sustainability. By interpreting the research findings, the research proposes methodological and theoretical implications for designers to enable recognition of relationality with nonhumans.

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