So I’m afraid I have been slack with my progress updates on my dissertation preparation essay. By slack, I mean I have posted nothing. Zip. Nada.
I have been busy. Thanks for asking.
I have been reading. Absorbing information. In doing so, I have encountered a big problem.
I am loving it.
The more I read, the more new avenues of topics it uncovers and then I head off further from the source of my initial jump off point. This is great in that I am learning about a wide range of things, (this is all relative; how much I actually remember is debatable), but not great for focusing. So where to start? With a question:
What would design be if its focus was not human?
We are currently in an anthropocentric world.
Anthro = human, centric = centred.
Everything that happens on this planet is for the sole purpose of humans, the survival of humans and of the current way our planet supports our lives. We like the Earth as it is and don’t really want it to change.
Yet it is changing.
Sea levels are rising, mass extinctions are happening, water sources are becoming more toxic and our precious fossil fuels are running out. Darn. What can be done to save the planet? Humans are the self-appointed most intelligent species on the plant and so it is up to us to save the Earth.
Whoa, whoa and some more whoa there horsey!
Who or what are we saving the Earth from? Itself? Killer bees? Aliens? No, it is humans that are causing all this upset. Here we are getting up on our high horse (pun intended), claiming that we need to rally the troops to the save the earth from this invisible foe, but it is us all along! Humans are Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Causing mischief and then trying to fix it for ourselves.
It is said that humans have now put themselves in a new geological age. Like the age of the dinosaurs, we are now in the age of the Human. What decrees this change, you ask? Good question. It basically means, if we were to take a core sample of the Earth in a million years time, would be able to pinpoint the time when this generation of human walked the Earth? Simple answer, yes. With the drop of the first atomic bomb in 1945, the Earth was coated in a layer of radioactive dust. A permanent scar to be seen forever more. Add to this the countless tonnes of micro-fragments of plastic waste that invades everything and we have the human calling card. We can be traced and dated as easily as a dinosaur bone. This new age is called the Anthropocene.
So what does this mean? One of the core concepts I am looking into is the idea of Post Anthropocentrism. Life after the focus has shifted from humans to something else. What else? We’re not talking imaginary futures here, after the demise of the human, but the proposal that humans are not the focus that drives progress. What is progress? It is something that is purely human focused, nothing to do with the planet or its myriad of inhabitants. This has to change. The question is – and one that I hope to explore further – what or who do we focus on? What would design be if the focus were on animals? On plants? On the air? On the colour blue?
There have been several proposals from people of various backgrounds that I will explore – some I already have delved into – in trying to decide which, if any are the solution. In my readings so far, I feel that the proposals are compromised. Incomplete. There is no perfect solution, that there is a better philosophy than the ones I have read so far. Fingers crossed for a direction to follow.
So, to the books I have read so far:
Silence – John Biguenet
Hyperobjects – Tim Morton
Spell of the Sensuous – David Abram
Speculate Everything – Dunne and Raby
Hertzian Tales – Dunne and Raby
1984 – George Orwell
Sustainable by Design – Stuart Walker
Design as Future Making – Susan Yelavich
Ex-Formation – Kenya Hara
Plus a handful of papers on anthropocentrism.
Where am I currently?
Behind and confused.
I have made so many notes and highlighted so many sections in various books that I have information overload. I have forgotten more than I currently know and am losing sight of where I wish to be. I have written more than 5000 words and have barely covered two of my four book reviews. This is not good. I think I need to re-read what I have written and try to find a structure in it. At the moment I think it is nonsensical ramblings.
I need to write as I read. If I read and then try to write a few weeks later, I forget. I also need a tether, something to ground my ramblings. This will be design itself. Without this to tie the essay together, or ground my thoughts, this essay will become a collection of words that say a lot about nothing that has already been said before.
I think I may be my own personal Jekyll and Hyde. Brilliant.