MA Symposium Reflections

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As an MA Student in the Design department in Goldsmiths College, last Thursday the 23d of June, I had the possibility to take part in the “Seeding Futures” Design Symposium where participants could, in addition to seeing the work in progress of a number of fellow students, present and receive feedback of their own projects from knowledgeable guests from different fields and backgrounds.

On a very short notice, and greatly appreciated, Emily Wilkinson, visual facilitator, illustrator & graphic artist, took the role of my reader1 making relevant comments and posing interesting questions for the present research. She argued the role of language when articulating issues of misunderstanding since “alternative” is a word that tends to be associated with hippie sub-cultures and other “euphemisms”. Her reflection on the word lifestyle is also worth highlighting , she noted that the nature and motivation of people’s engagement in alternative practices is probably less related to the style, and more concerned with the content of their lives; Emily also noted that due to current economic and social instability, some “alternative practices” could become mainstream, not because of their appeal but because they will be the most feasible option.

Later that afternoon, the workshops session served to understand the importance of clearly articulating the proposal for the present project to avoid misinterpretations:

Far from arguing that every person should start living in a certain way or following an arbitrary set of alternative-sustainable practices, the aim of this project is to promote questioning over the structures and implications of normalised western lifestyles by exploring existing alternative practices and developing mechanisms that could support them in becoming understood, accepted and valued; in relation to Emily Wilkinson’s comment, to help transcend labels, that alternative practices are not seen as activities only radicals or hippies engage with out of rebellion against society, but as different, meaningful, pleasurable ways of organising our lives that respond to values and concerns with social and environmental injustice; ultimately to communicate that we have the opportunity to “re-imagine every single thing that we do”,  hence (re)defining what it means to live sustainably2.

 

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1. As stated in the invitation to participate in the Seeging Futures MA Design Symposium, “‘Readers’ is a termed used by the MA Design Futures course to represent the clients, collaborators, knowledge holders etc… that the student’s, as authors of their design proposals, write to throughout the year.”

2. Hawken, Paul. The 11th Hour. Interview. Warner Independent Pictures, 2006. Film. 16 Jun 2011.

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