Abstract

This paper offers a critical reflection of a design practice in which a speculative approach to design became entangled with upstream engagement with biotechnology research. Given that both practices claim to enable a public discussion about emergent technology, what is the nature of their mixing, and how should an analytical account of such a design practice be made? I focus on the project Material Beliefs as a case, and argue that the move on upstream engagement by speculative design is an imbroglio that goes beyond mixing the formal features of practice, and requires a discussion concerning the actions of the designer in relation to a broader set of accountabilities. Ultimately, I contend that this mixing provides an opportunity to foster a reflexive and empirical account of speculative practice, inciting analysis of the organisations and settings that support a speculative approach, and providing a critique of upstream engagement.

Keywords:

Speculative, Engagement, Qualitative, Empirical

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Jun 17th, 12:00 AM

Designing Debate: The Entanglement of Speculative Design and Upstream Engagement

This paper offers a critical reflection of a design practice in which a speculative approach to design became entangled with upstream engagement with biotechnology research. Given that both practices claim to enable a public discussion about emergent technology, what is the nature of their mixing, and how should an analytical account of such a design practice be made? I focus on the project Material Beliefs as a case, and argue that the move on upstream engagement by speculative design is an imbroglio that goes beyond mixing the formal features of practice, and requires a discussion concerning the actions of the designer in relation to a broader set of accountabilities. Ultimately, I contend that this mixing provides an opportunity to foster a reflexive and empirical account of speculative practice, inciting analysis of the organisations and settings that support a speculative approach, and providing a critique of upstream engagement.

 

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