Process 1st Semester
Feb 05, 2020
In this entry I would love to briefly capture the state of the project and the process so far. Just half a year into my studies and everything is different, it seems.
What did I start with again?
My initial intention, doing this project-driven master, was to work with the subject of animism as well as technology, their entanglement from the viewpoint of design research. I guessed, design research is a bit more researchy then art research and I liked that thought. Turns out, I was absolutely right about that - but of course that brought some problems with it, that I was not prepared for.
I wasn’t aware how deeply I was already within the cool critical theory and anthropocene art stuff. Just arriving with my premises of course wouldn’t work. I was very lucky to have Luiza Prado and Robert Lziscar as mentors and next to being amazing mirrors, I was able to talk about the weak points of my approaches and premises.
And what came then?
Next to learn how I can position myself within the design research context I learned a lot about objects and things and new materialism. One of the weakest points of my project was, that I wanted to work with animism without actually having access to it, respectifely to the practitioners. I operated more from the western idea or idealisation of animism, and not much with what animism actually means in reality. So I tried to reframe and translate what I actually mean when I reference animism. Again, Luiza Prado was a big help here.
Next to remove my bias I also had to learn to be less solution-driven in my research questions.
What I could extract from my interest in animism is actually simply the caring and respectful relationship to the material world in particular the objects and things we interact with on a daily base.
So we have the keywords relationship, care and respect as well as objects/things. That gave me a lot of material to research. What was missing was a use case. In one of the meetings, the mobile phone popped up and it made a lot of sense to me. I worked on mobile phone, or it’s electronical waste, before. So my research question started to evolve around what our relationship with our mobile phone is, after all. I invested quite a while on trying different approaches to how this question could be formed.
The end of the first semester
Im read quite a lot of papers and articles on the different keywords I extracted earlier as well as the combination of them, always trying to stay close to design research. That was fruitful, but didn’t help me evolve my research question.
I wasn’t to happy with my research question after weeks of trying out different focii. I had the problem of framing the question in a way that it
- stays true to my intentions
- is within the focus of my studies
- is actionable
I also was very insecure if this makes sense at all or if it is realizeable. My mentor gave me some good tips. I probably worked to long on it already and should have done some actual practical research meanwhile. Or extract a smaller question I could try to answer.
But, what was the most important aspect after all was that my case study with the mobile phone didn’t make me to happy. It was to big and I also feared, that it was to close to another recent research project that focues on repair culture around the mobile phone. My mentor came up with Apple’s Airpods and despite it not being my own idea, I utterly love it.
- The Airpods are not to long and not to short on the market
- Their technological scope and use case is much smaller then the those of mobile phones and they don’t have the software baggage
- They’re nasty little things and add up mighty to the ecological crisis by being irrepairable and unusable after just two years, and that despite the need for tech companies to act more sustainable
- Their rise to stardom is quite interesting
- They have some interesting implications for social behaviour
So Airpods it is! I’d love to go into a direction of Anatomy of an AI System. I definitly need to learn a bit more about ANT.
During this semester I also tried to develop a proper position from which I act as a research.
While capitalism took away the necessity to care for things, design took away the possibility to form a caring relationship to things.
I will maybe expand on that another time.
The spirit of animism is still alive within the core of my research question or case study, but it became more entangled, less simple. It’s not anymore about my personal relationship to an object, but about many relationships between many things. The care part lays a bit low right now but is included in the hypothesis and I somehow have the feeling that it will flare up again.
Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash