Self-Reflexive activations
(positionality, boundaries, network)

Here we present a few assignments that are aimed at creating awareness in the practitioners on the contexts and scales they are inhabiting and  their positionality in them. The routines they are following. The infrastructure, social connections and tools that could become relevant to them.  Ultimately, the motivations and interests they are bringing to the research they are starting. 

My new me

As practitioners, we are influenced by the contexts, materialities, infrastructures, power structures, social bonds and motivations that we embody throughout the day. These, in turn, are always shifting, creating ever-evolving “new normals” in which we develop our practice and ourselves. How can we bring these inter-relations into awareness in our practice? The following activations invite the participant to reflect on who they are as as agentic actors constantly related, limited, shaped by and encouraged by the different elements in the socio-technical systems they are part of. 

This assignment invites participants to actively reflect on how their current spaces, routines, connections and habits are shaping them personally and professionally.

Prompt: Explore and document a day in your life with notes, photos, videos and self-interviews. Make a short reflection with some visuals

Morgane Sha’ban, Master in Design for Emergent Futures, 20/21 In this illustration Morgane represents the most important things and activities that are shaping her personally and she would like to bring to her design practice. She called it “my magic ship” as a way to navigate a difficult topic to deal with (ecological collapse).

Each participant is asked to bring a poster with an image, illustration or picture that represents their fight, meaning, any issue, concern, cause or particular interest they feel strongly about. When working with a group, not only is this a way to start meeting each other, breaking the ice, but also a means of starting the process of finding resonance to form possible collaborations. For teachers and facilitators, it presents an opportunity to start observing the areas of interest in the group as a whole, but mostly, this strategy ultimately represents a prompt for the practitioner to actively reflect on what they care about, and find fertile ground on which to start inquiring.

Prompt: Is there any issue, concern, cause or particular interest you feel strongly about? Bring a printed poster that summarizes your answer.

Morgane Sha’ban, Master in Design for Emergent Futures, 20/21 In this illustration Morgane represents the intersection of the topics she most cares about. Some of them being ecological collapse, urban spaces, education, ecofeminism, activism and regeneration..

My new augmented context

To be able to engage in futures scouting from a First Person Perspective (1PP) it is fundamental to gain awareness of the tools, materialities, infrastructures, communities of practice and social networks that are part of the socio-technical system we are designing with. The following exercises offer a methodology and a system to develop and document these references and relationships.

Implementing a 1PP in a design process will necessarily involve the practitioner’s own life as the ground of active prototyping. This is why, a deeper inquiry into the infrastructure and limitations will be helpful to start framing the spaces and tools that will become part of their practice. Here, participants are encouraged to expand their notion of what their workspace is, understanding that it goes way beyond their desk or the lab in the university; that their hyperlocal and hyperconnected workspace can consist of their kitchens, the urban garden next to their apartment, the restaurant in their neighbourhood, their closet, their balconies, their leisure spaces, the sewing machine at their mother’s home, a digital community elsewhere in the world… and so many other possibilities. Observing our habitual spaces with these new set of eyes might bring into awareness how rich our environments are to become part of our working and prototyping infrastructure.

Prompt: Explore and document in a post what infrastructure, people, things, and materials are available to you in your new normal.

Morgane Sha’ban, Master in Design for Emergent Futures, 20/21. In this exercise Morgane divided in two lillistrations the tools that had become available to her and the ways of communication that she could use due. In both illustrations she combined tools and infrastructure that were available in the lab but also at her place. Her project was about creating biomaterials and this exercise helped her to realize that most of the tools she needed were available in her kitchen.

This aim of this exercise is to provide the basis of a Design Space that will be the most important tool for the rest of the First Person Perspective (1PP) research process. When designing for current crises and emergent futures, oftentimes the student or practitioner might feel disempowered in the beginning.  They might feel like they don’t have the tools, the agency or the capacity to change things, to propose actual different ways of doing, or that what they care about is far away from their scope of influence or action. Powerful in its capacity to reverse this perspective, the multi-scalar mapping activation might show them how almost any topic of interest in our inter-connected system might be seen in all scales, from our bodies to our planet, offering a wide range of actual possibilities of action. As an example, species extinction can be seen in the body, in the actual diminishing of microbial species in our microbiome, but also in our balconies decorated with imported plants that don’t support local species biodiversity, or can be affected by urban landscaping in our neighbourhoods, or the state of biodiversity in our bioregion. Participants are then asked to take the issues they are concerned about or weak signals of possible futures they have detected and take them in an embodied exercise of reflection on how they might be present from the scale of their bodies, to the scale of their regions. Participants are asked to engage in a hike and/or a journey that takes them from their home to the outermost part of their city or region, documenting in a diagram infrastructure, issues, topics, people, situations and insights that reflect their chosen matters of concern. We do it as a group or they can complete it in smaller groups or on their own.

Prompt: Engage on a hike or journey that takes you from your own room to the outermost part of your city/region. How do you see your fight or chosen weak signals in the different scales you are traversing? Your body, your room, your domestic space, your neighbourhood, your city, your region? What people, places and infrastructure could become available to you? Document with post-its, notes and images.

Morgane Sha’ban, Master in Design for Emergent Futures, 20/21. After three months, Morgane visualized in this illustration all the interventions, communities, prototypes and references she had been working with, in different scales. From her inner experience, to the other people she collaborated with closely, and lastly, to the outer circle of tools, global communities and references that she had been looking at.

 In this activity, participants are encouraged to identify and reflect on the communities of practice they are forming or where they are being inserted into with their research.

Prompt: Are there existing communities that you can become part of? Who can you collaborate with? How can you grow your own community with your interventions?

Morgane Sha’ban, Master in Design for Emergent Futures, 20/21. Morgane’s research involved different activities that would require collaborating with others. The two images attached show how each design action required different kinds of communities of practice.