Some call it ‘age of the man’, while others define it as a disaster. The Anthropocene is a shift in geology where humans are perceived as cursory benefactors of all systems; human, non-human and natural.
(left) Dwarahat’s sprawling natural and agricultural fields. (right) Me perched on a cliff overlooking the vastness and freshness of the town, as respite from city hubbub.
From a subjective standpoint, when we were asked to write a reflective piece in our first class outlining a place of interest and connection, I flew back in time to the day I landed (again) in Dwarahat, Uttaranchal, India. (image- left) A village almost stuck in time and place, the lush green landscape almost effortlessly holds civilisation and a flourishing environmental and agricultural vista. The place for me is a cove of hope and a lagoon to cleanse my body, mind and soul. It is here that I can connect deeply to myself, and escape the constant push for speed, change and growth of city-dwelling. (image- right)
I observed across the readings that academics tend to have a Biblical mode of describing this age of man. Marris and Kareiva in the article ‘Hope in the Age of Man’ perceive “human changes as degradation of a pristine Eden.” (Marris, E. & Kareiva, P. 2011) But some see hope. Scientifically, this hope, and the research and execution of this hope is termed ‘rewilding.’ To further the Biblical references, Monbiot (2013) in ‘My manifesto for re-wilding the world’ refers to rewilding as a mass restoration of ecosystems to reverse man’s destructive impacts by “abandoning the biblical doctrine of dominion which has governed our relationship with the natural world.”
Extending on the reflections of humanity’s situation and our effects on the planet, Father Francis in the ‘Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ analyses the situation. He suggests how the ‘rapidification’ of the intense pace of life and work of our culture is inherent to the speed at which such complex human systems change. It was nice knowing that there are similar mindsets that are questioning this ‘rapidification,’ as I do so frequently in my visits to Dwarahat. But converse to this is the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. A question posed in the studio today, ‘What if we refuse to uncouple nature and culture,’ is explored through the lens of the common good; “Goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development.” (Father Francis, verse 17, 18 & 19) This leads to conflict that emerges from the contrasting interests and capabilities of humans, non-humans and nature, rooted on the unparalleled dynamic of change and evolution of each of the living systems.
So what if we start speaking and listening to not only ourselves, but start empathizing with a degree of humility. What if we become “aware of the impact we have on other people and other living systems,” and explore different ways of being in, with, and for the world? (Leimbach, T 2014 and Lecture slides) Moline’s essay on Dingo Logic, ‘Feral Experimental’ explores the boundaries and intersections of experimental design, design thinking, data visualisation, and interaction design and service design. By decolonizing design research and practice, designers can become ‘feral’ and become comfortable to work collaboratively on the margins of disciplines. For designers, this interdisciplinary practice gives the capability to respond to the wicked problems of our day and age and focus on those leverage points for positive intervention.
Marris, E., Kareiva, P., Mascaro, J. & Elli, E.C. 2011, ‘Hope in the Age of Man’, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/opinion/the-age-of-man-is-not-adisaster.html?_r=0
Monbiot, G. 2013, ‘My manifesto for re-wilding the world’, The Guardian, 28th May 2013: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/27/my-manifestorewilding-world
Design case study: Feral Experimental. New Design Thinking, Catalogue Essay: Moline, K. 2014, ‘Dingo Logic: Feral Experimental and New Design Thinking’, NIEA: http://www.niea.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/Feral%20Experimental%20Exhibition%20Catalogue.pdf
Pope Francis, the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church, 2016: ‘Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ of the Holy Father Francis: On care for our common home’, Catholic Church: https://laudatosi.com/watch
Leimbach, T. 2014, Design Goes Wild, https://theconversation.com/design-goes-wildboundary-crossing-in-feral-experimental-29974 accessed 12 March 2018