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Thursday, May 12 • 10:45am - 11:00am
Speculative Practices as Critical Making: Designing Rituals, Situations, and other Tangible Imaginaries

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While both Critical Making (Ratto 2011) and Design Fiction (Bleecker 2009) are techniques that provoke speculation about practices, such psychological “effects” are often treated as epiphenomena of the design object rather than as structured experiences which themselves might be available for creative manipulation. But as scholars from ritual studies will tell us, humans have a long history of designing rituals (Bell 1992; Grimes 1995, Tambiah 1981, Hobsbawm 1992), and we can similarly understand a range of communication practices as the outcome of designerly intervention, including: Roberts Rules of Order, feminist Consciousness Raising conversation groups, AA meetings, couples counseling, and Occupy Human Mic rituals. Indeed, some of the most significant cultural transformations in human history have involved the invention, or creative reimagining, of rituals, situations, and routines. This talk approaches the mechanics of human practice itself as a topic of Critical Making, not only through explicit decisions about material interfaces but also through speculative manipulation of tacit rules of engagement—thus, expanding the notion of “making” to treat the mechanics of practice as if it were a kind of material structure. Rituals, routines, situations, encounters, etc. are all embodied, procedurally structured, and spatiotemporally bound performances. In their prospective or prototype form, I call these phenomena ‘tangible imaginaries’ as a nod to their dual status as both embodied experience and imagination space. Tangible imaginaries recast Goffman’s notion of the interaction-ritual (1967) through the lens of Butler’s conception of the “doer… constructed in and through the deed” (1990) and open up the implicit mechanics of “deeds” (encounters with social-action) as if they were available for critical redesign. This approach adapts the methodology of Critical Making by drawing from a variety of techniques, including: Ronald Grimes’s Ritual Lab pedagogy (1995), the breaching experiments of ethnomethodology (Garfinkel 1967), Lawrence Halprin’s RSVP cycles (1970), as well as design methods of bodystorming (Oulasvirta et al. 2003) and experience prototyping (Buchenau & Suri 2000).


Thursday May 12, 2016 10:45am - 11:00am
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195

Attendees (28)