ABSTRACT — In his 2015 Research Through Design provocation, Tim Ingold invites his audience to think with string, lines, and meshworks. In this article I use Ingold’s concepts to explore an orientation to design — one that threads through both Ingold’s ideas and Vinciane Despret’s vivid and moving accounts of human-animal relations. This is a “thinking and doing” through design that seeks to be expansive to the capacities of humans and non-humans in relation to one another.
In my contribution, I’ve reflected on Tim Ingold’s provocation at the Biennial Research Through Design conference, and tried to play around with opening up a more generative kind of design. My experiment has been to put Ingold’s ideas of lines and meshworks in conversation with Vinciane Despret’s uplifting stories of animals and becomings. A strange mix, but one that for me at least raises plenty of interesting questions — and isn’t it more questions we need?!
I had a very generous slot for presenting to some in Design Products at the RCA this week.
In this talk, I want to suggest we have spent too much time working with the limits of capability — the limits of the perceptual apparatus, the limits of cognitive capacities, and the limits of how critters (whether human or nonhuman) interact and relate to one another. Drawing on a feminist technoscience and using examples from recent fieldwork, I’ll aim to show that, together, we make ourselves capable. That capability isn’t limited to some pre-given, individual state, but comes into being through (inter)action, through entangled relations between actors of all kinds. This, I’ll claim, gives us a very different way of thinking about our relations with technology and especially the promise of AI and machine learning. Rather than machines aiming to replicate human capability, I want to propose an expansive project that allows us the chance to imagine something ‘other-than’ finite capabilities, that sees capability as a ‘becoming-with’, and lays open the possibilities for much much more.
I’m hoping to fine-tune and do a little tidying of these ideas for this talk at the Knowledge Lab (Institute of Education) later this month.