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.