PhD research

Italo Calvino on 'multiplicity'

“Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.
But perhaps the answer that stands closest to my heart is something else: Think what it would be to have a work conceived from outside the self, a work that would let us escape the limited perspective of the individual ego, not only to enter into selves like our own but to give speech to that which has no language, to the bird perching on the edge of the gutter, to the tree in
spring and the tree in fall, to stone, to cement, to plastic."

Italo Calvino on 'multiplicity', Six memos for the next millennium (1988) Harvard

PhD Research Week 16 Y2

forumfuture_pres copy

Presentation at Forum for the Future Forum gave me a great opportunity to present my research and interests during their lunch hour, as part of their ‘brown bag lunch’ talks series.   It was the first time i presented my work to a non-academic audience, and my main challenge in drafting this presentation was to keep it visually engaging and in a simple language.  Although this audience in particular is an expert of ‘sustainability’ i felt it would be good practice to explain ideas in a clear manner. I focused on two points;  what might be interesting for Forum to learn about my work, and how they could help me in the development of my project. The plan was to give a 30min presentation and conduct a group activity afterwards, of ploting their insights into my axis system.  I created two polar axis of  “dynamic process of sustainable development” and “expanded practice of communication design”.  The idea here was find links between the two concepts, commonalities and diferences in interpretation and approach.   Although this didnt take the format of the visual exercise initially planned, the conversation still happened.

On the “dynamic process”

What are the principles behind the dynamic process? how is it diferent from dynamic processes for wrong-doing (ie shipping kids to factory exploitation)? It is a 10 year old definition but it is starting to come back into the current language of forum for the future, given that they are working so much within systems thinking. When you intervene in a system, you need to interveen in diferent places, and the hard part is understanding what are the unforseen consequences.  You assume that you are doing it for a good reason but you dont know what might happen as a consequence in 5, 10 years time.  How can you prepare for this? Does communication design have a role preparing for the unintended consequences?

On the expanded practice of communication design

A common point between all the examples i showed of alternative food projects, empathy seemed to be a link, people making connections and stepping out of the patterns which our western society has given us, and has worked so hard to develop - to be independent, to go on a holiday but not actually meet anybody.  So these alternatives are about creating unusual connections and conversations that would not otherwise happen, and establishing a sense of knowing not just through your head but through the senses and phisical experience of walking through a speace.  Brining things all the way down.  This is the beginig - brinigng people together - but the process of bringing people together gets that going, but what happens when they leave, how do we create an on-going process?

How can we think about the role of communication design , not just strating the conversation, but supporting the longevity of  the conversation through time?  How about the on-going process not just bringing people together?

Food is accessible to everyone, it is a sensorial good as well.  But in the case of energy for example, people are far removed from where energy is created, it is not a tangible good.  So how can we get people together and experience the production of energy?  The Energy Coallition project has done this, where it took people together to co-produce energy for their community.

The real challenge of communication design is not reaching the audiences that already take-part in the sustainability dialogue, but to reach the people that never heard of it.  How to draw them?  how to reach for the audience that might not look for it?  This is what Forum may consider to be the un-tapped part of communication.