Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Stephanie Golden 

Stories for a Non-anthropocentric World

Situated at the tipping point of the collapse of ecological and climatic stability, we need to radically re-evaluate our current relationships with our more than human worlds and find new ways of becoming. Here we set out to challenge our dominant human centric perspectives, find ways of reconnecting with the agencies that exist in and around us and rediscover our curiosity with our natural worlds. The project set out to facilitate these perspectives through a series of designed experiments that were tested through participant engagements alongside different identified more than human actors. We explored ways of reconnecting through a process of grounding, exploration, mapping, naming and storytelling. The project is developed by engaging with ideas of interconnectedness, entanglement and agency and draws from theories to guide our thinking and open potential new ways of knowing. These thinking tools also guide us towards designing our own tools for engagement.

Tools for Thinking With

Each exercise aims to build further on the participants' knowledge of their chosen actor, deepen their understanding of the interconnections that exist and challenge their thinking. The first iteration of the process was tested during a charrette and a revised process was later retested and developed in the form of a workbook.

The process begins with a grounding in ideas and theories to challenge our thinking. We then set out to explore our more than human environments and we used wayfaring (Ingold) as a method for gathering new knowledge and refocusing our awareness. Mapping is used as a way of understanding the meshworked nature of our more than human worlds. Here we mapped out the relationships, connections and points of interaction that make up our complex interwoven environments. We looked then to challenge our western understanding of how things of this world are classified and drawing from folk taxonomies and indigenous ways of knowing, we set out to create new names for our more than human actors. The names we create aim to capture storied knowledges (Ingold) that can offer “real information about the ecological relations in the world” (Sinclair). Our final exercise is storytelling. We used storytelling as a tool for reflection, and as a container and communicator of the knowledge we gathered.

Outcomes & Conclusion

Participants reflections and feedback were gathered at the end of their experience. They found to have gained a new sense of curiosity, appreciation and understanding of their subject matter, and a deeper sense of awareness of the meshworked world we are a part of. They found the exercises thought provoking, enjoyable and at times, challenging. They formed new points of connection, and found the opportunity to reflect upon important aspects of their environment they wouldn't normally pay close attention to. What remained evident, is our struggle to move beyond our human centric views. Without other ways of seeing and knowing, our attention and awareness can remain within this confinement. And although it may be a great challenge to move beyond this completely, it is important that we continue to challenge it and attempt to bring an awareness beyond it. It has never been more important that we do.