Friday, October 9, 2009

Taking on material, empirical and conceptual objects

Colleagues from the Interaction Research Studio, the Department of Design, the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process and the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths have organised what looks to be a fascinating seminar series on the overlaps and disjunctures between design and the social sciences. If you're in London, please check it out - and then tell me all about it!

Design and Social Science Seminar Series 2009-2010
The Objects of Design and Social Science


Common to both design and (parts of) the social sciences is a shared pre-occupation with objects. On the one hand, design is concerned with making and interpreting objects including the finished article (e.g. consumer products), ‘experimental’ design aids (e.g. prototypes), and projective representations (e.g. scenarios). Recently, design has also begun to re-engage with more speculative objects whose ambiguous functionality contributes to the exploration of the social and the material, the political and the aesthetic. On the other hand the social sciences also work with objects, including categorical objects such as race, gender, and health, empirical objects ranging from the mundane to the exotic, and conceptual objects such as the notions social scientists use to understand and theorize the social. Here, the sociology of science and technology has been especially productive, introducing notions such as boundary objects (Star & Griesemer, 1989), epistemic objects (Rheinberger, 1997), immutable mobiles (Latour, 1990), quasi-objects , black boxes (Latour, 1988) to name but a few. Accordingly, a focus on material, empirical and conceptual objects brings into sharp relief overlaps and disjuncture between the two disciplines and a rich space for dialogue.

This seminar series will seek to bring into view and explore existing objects of both design and social science as well as draw out objects of novelty for both disciplines. In doing so we will seek to engage with emerging issues and topics in both disciplines such as the outputs of speculative and critical design, participation, engagement and publics as well as addressing notions concerning heterogeneity, process and event. This series will continue to serve as a platform for opening up interdisciplinary research futures.

Seminar 1 | Wednesday October 14th
Introducing the Objects of Design and Social Science
With: Bill Gaver, Tobie Kerridge, Mike Michael & Alex Wilkie, Goldsmiths

Seminar 2 | Wednesday November 4th
Buildings as Things
With: Albena Yaneva, University of Manchester

Seminar 3 | Wednesday November 18th
Speculative Objects
With: James Auger, Royal College of Art & Jimmy Loizeau, Goldsmiths

Seminar 4 | Wednesday January 27th
Objects and Services
With: Chris Downs

Seminar 5 | Wednesday February 17th
From objects to issues?
With: Noortje Marres, Oxford University

Seminar 6 | Wednesday March 10th
Object fair
With: Bill Gaver, Tobie Kerridge, Mike Michael & Alex Wilkie, Goldsmiths

All seminars run from 4:00pm - 6:00pm and are hosted by the Interaction Research Studio, 6th Floor, Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW.

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