This session looked how the artefacts we make and design ‘correspond’ to world of experience, materials and the environment and what implications this may have for thinking about how we talk about what we make and design. It built on the last session.
Our modern day lives are filled with devices that we are constantly interacting with. We looked at how we interact with our devices and how we interact with people and drew a connection between this and the interaction between different agents; potter, wheel and clay, that we looked at the previous week. “Brain, body, wheel and clay relate and interact with each other throughout the different stages of this activity” (Malafouris, 2008). This quote shows this relationship between the brain, body and world which can be treated and illustrated like a Venn diagram, or with lines and arrows triangles.
Following this we examined the the actor network theory. This diagram tries to map out every possible interaction between object and body. We as humans are represented as a node within this network and we interact with other predefined nodes. The question became can we treat ourselves as nodes which are pre-defined? The world is ‘potential’, it does not entirely pre-exist objectively without our experience to shape it. Our body is not our limitation. If we were limited to our body we couldn’t move around and think because everything would be predefined by the genetics in our body. We do not come packaged to think. “We do not experience ourselves and one another as ‘packaged’ but as moving and moved, in ongoing response – that is in correspondence with the things around us” (Sheets-Johnstone, 1998, p. 359 cited in Ingold, 2011, p. 10).
We experience things through the ability to perceive it. “Were the eye not sun like, it could not see the sun” (Goethe, cited in Ingold, 2013). The eye can receive light and there we can perceive sunlight. We can’t expect humans to exist the same way in two different environments because there is constant interaction between environment and body.
We can never know how a bat perceives the world, so we cant say we know how entire universe is, we can only know how it is for humans. The environment is an organism subjective universe. I found this really interesting and was the highlight of the session for me. For instance if you take a description of a ticks universe below-
“Once the female has copulated, she climbs with her full count of eight legs to the tip of a protruding branch of any shrub in order either to fall onto small mammals who run by underneath or to let herself be brushed off the branch by large ones. The eyeless creature finds the way to its lookout with the help of a general sensitivity to light in the skin. The blind and deaf bandit becomes aware of the approach of its prey through the sense of smell. The odour of butyric acid, which is given off by the skin glands of all mammals, gives the tick the signal to leave its watch post and leap off. If it then falls onto something warm—which its fine sense of temperature will tell it—then it has reached its prey, the warm-blooded animal, and needs only use its sense of touch to find a spot as free of hair as possible in order to bore past its own head into the skin tissue of the prey. Now, the tick pumps a stream of warm blood slowly into itself.”(Uexkull, 2010, pp. 44-45)
A Human expedience of that would just be walking underneath a uninteresting branch not really noticing it and then the tick itching their head and maybe causing pain.
Linking to this we looked at why do we not call air human if it is a integral part of what make us human; we can live without air. How can we say microscopes for instance are objective if we make them, because human has made them so therefore it is part human so information we get from them is subjective. Street scene seen and experience in very different ways depending on organism. Our Human world is always spoken about from the point of view of a human being, but an environment that may seem stable to human would not be so for other organism. I loved thinking about this and thought I might be able to relate it to my group city project work. I want to do some further research into how a city might be experienced by another organism.
This has an interesting effect when it comes to form. A spiders web is based upon imagery of what it thinks a fly might act like. When the fly is caught, the fly then acts on what it envisages a spider might look like. Seeing that the spider made the spider web with this thought of the fly in mind and the fly acts with the spider in mind, the spider web can be seen as fly like; It is based on the environment that the spider exists in.
Physical properties are not set in the world, they are based upon the organism that is interacting with it; a man can bend bamboo, a cat cant. Like a spider web, human artefacts express historical contingents that is a correspondence between the phenomenal, environmental and material worlds. From this point we explored Speculative design. This is a movement where you try to find the value systems built into object along with the opposing views and use that to design the object and see how that affects the design, using negatives an positives. “Critique is not necessarily negative; it can also be a gently refusal, a turning away from what exists, a longing, wishful thinking, a desire, and even a dream. Critical designs are testimonials to what could be, but at the same time, they offer alternatives that highlight weakness within existing normality” (Dunne and Raby, 2013, p. 35)
“Statistical Clock”, reminding us of the frailty of life.
“Huggable Atomic Mushroom”, getting used to atomic annihilation.