2018… January through July

A lot has happened. Here’s my half-yearly round-up, with the most recent at the top:

July & August, research writing | in a mobile office: touring the Scottish Highlands
I am extremely fortunate to be spending three weeks over July and August touring the Scottish Highlands on my motorbike. It’s my favourite way of engaging in deep reflection and writing. I find writing hard. Being able to spend a couple of hours a day immersed in rugged wilderness, wending my way around remote locations on my lovely F700GS motorbike is an extremely embodied, satisfying and productive way to undertake my thinking. I’m working on a lot of things simultaneously: funding applications, journal articles and conference submissions. Sometimes I wonder if that’s so smart, but it seems to be what I always do.

July 7 & 8, Art Laboratory Berlin, Shared Habitats workshop: (Un)Real Ecologies – Microplastics (with Kat Austen & Nana MacLean)
I had the great pleasure of being invited by Christian de Lutz and Regine Rapp to participate in the (Un)Real Ecologies workshop on microplastics, organised together with DIY Hack the Panke. The workshop is the first action in the Shared Habitats project, a network collaboration funded by Nordic Culture Point, building on the Nordic-Baltic BioMedia Network funding we received last year (more on that soon).

From the ArtLaboratoryBerlin website:

Photos courtesy Kat Austen 
Plastic has pervaded water, soil and our bodies. It is the new icon of our time. During the (Un)Real Ecologies: Microplastics workshop we will explore the presence of microplastics in the Panke River, near Art Laboratory Berlin. How do organisms and microorganisms exist with and construct with these human-made materials? We will interrogate the water samples, to discover a new understanding of the reality of the Panke’s ecosystem, with plastic present and wholly a part of it – a microcosm that allows us to ask: “what is nature?”

Documentation of the workshop can be viewed here, including the different prototcols we used to detect and measure microplastics.

July 5 & 6, Bauhaus University, Weimar: [dis]solving boundaries
I was honoured to be an invited speaker at a symposium organised for the 10th anniversary of the Bauhaus University Young Bauhaus Research Centre. [dis]solving boundaries brought together emerging and senior researchers working at the boundaries of politics, design, disciplines and experience.

Dis-solving-boundaries_banner_990x280pxThe abstract for my talk:

Food for Thought ~ from the planetary to the personal
We live in challenging times. Humanity’s material practices are destroying the ecologies that we rely on to thrive, impacting every living entity on the planet. We cannot keep living the way that we have been living. This means that we cannot keep designing the way we have been designing. But how do we design new imaginaries and practices? How do we transform the dominant status quo?Increasingly, artists and designers are working with other species to develop material alternatives. The new practices and associated politics that are emerging, are not yet well mapped and pathways for transformational change—for the moment—remain elusive. Food for Thought grapples with this problematic by taking food and eating as starting points for thinking about what we might wear, eat and grow. Eating is intimate, mundane—socially, culturally and politically potent—aesthetically rich and essential to life. Food for Thought asks how shared and complementary concerns around food and eating might better entangle the desires of different living beings on our fragile planet. Can we eat to thrive, flourish, and grow together? Can food provide a much needed frame for thinking? Can it help us to dissolve the artificial boundaries we place around our personhood, that prevent us from more productively entangling ourselves in the ecologies of which we are [a]part? The research posits food as a powerful locus for situated, material thinking and co-production of knowledge. Through performed, participatory encounters, it looks at technologies and ecologies, to re-make material imaginaries and practices, to re-orient them more powerfully towards ecological flourishing. The objective is to better understand how to fruitfully converge design, science and civic imaginaries, to—literally and metaphorically, materially and relationally—grow alternate material futures that productively entangle imaginaries and real-world practices.

June 24–29, DRS2018 Limerick, Ireland
I attended the Design Research Society Annual Conference, where I co-hosted a conversation with Peter Buwert and Ian Lambert of Edinburgh Napier University and Ann Light of Sussex University, UK. Abstract + citation links below. The conversation continues on Medium.

The Ascendency of Process over Outcome: considering the challenges of how to present the object of research through design.
Research through Design is a process that has been absorbed into the mainstream but without consideration of what it fully entails. In this Conversation, we go back to the original sense of the term and look at how each of us might interpret and apply it in our work so that the notion of process is foregrounded. For some, this means taking the learning from processes that have not developed as expected. For others, it is about how societal or personal process itself may be designed. How can process itself be captured and presented? How can research whose primary material is inherently immaterial be adequately presented? The challenge is to find ways of presenting a dynamic narrative of research process, which remains accessible after the fact. The snap-shots and freeze-frames of still/video photography and artefacts produced and recorded during the research process are a trail of evidence left behind after the crime. How do we catch the research redhanded? In what ways can the dynamic immaterial research narrative be presented as its own ‘artefact’ rather than having to rely on second-hand documentation?

Citation: Buwert, P., Lambert, I., Light, A., Wilde, D: The Ascendency of Process over Outcome: considering the challenges of how to present the object of research through design. DRS2018, The Design Research Society Conference (2018). DRS link + more on Medium.

June 25, ENEC Cost Action CA16299, Country Report for Denmark
The main aim of the ENEC (European Network for Environmental Citizenship through Formal and Non-Formal Education) Action is to enable scientific developments in the field of Environmental Citizenship leading to new conceptualizations and new products and thereby contributing to strengthening European research and innovation capacities in the field.

Today, we submitted the SWOT report on Environmental Citizenship Education in Denmark, detailing the current state of affairs. The report synthesises detailed feedback from seven experts: two decision-makers in NGOs, an academic researcher,  two decision-makers in Educational Professional Society, an educator specialised in secondary education, and a policy-maker from the Danish Ministry for Education. The country report will be published as a chapter in the forthcoming book on environmental citizenship education in European. We thank our experts heartily for their contribution.

June 19–25, ITPD exams
Four of my five Masters students completed their theses, all achieving the highest grade in the Danish system (woohoo!). Well done Aleksander Borislavov Novakov and Ivan Nikolaev Nikolov who undertook a joint thesis, Larissa Vivian Nägele, and Theresia Torenholt. Camilla Schibsbye is on track to complete in August.

June 8–13, DIS2018, Hong Kong
The ACM Designing Interactive Systems conference took place in Hong Kong this year. I was a key author of three contributions:

Exploring Aesthetic Enhancement of Wearable Technologies for Deaf Women
The Quietude project uses making, participation and co-design to collectively imagine a more sustainable, aesthetically enriched future for deaf women, by developing wearables that respond to the women’s needs and desires: those that are well known, and those that may be only dimly glimpsed. We present our motivation and process, and describe our first workshop that brought together deaf women, ethicists, makers, designers and technology experts. The workshop led to the design and development of an ecology of jewellery products: fashionable accessories that enhance the experience of deaf women by translating sounds into vibration, light patterns and shape change. We reflect on the opportunities and challenges of developing aesthetically rich wearables for deaf women, using experimental participatory design methods, and the value of considering disability as an opportunity for wearables design, rather than as an issue that needs to be addressed or solved.

Citation: Wilde, D., Marti, P. Exploring Aesthetic Enhancement of Wearable Technologies for Deaf Women. DIS2018, In Proc. Designing Interactive Systems. ACM (2018): 201–213. ACM link

Visualising the landscape of Human-Food Interaction research
While conducting a review of food-related technology research, we discovered that activity in this area is skyrocketing across a broad range of disciplinary interests and concerns. The dynamic and heterogeneous nature of the research presents a challenge to scholars wishing to critically engage with prior work, identify gaps and ensure impact. In response to this challenge, we are developing an online visualisation tool: an app that affords diffractive reading of the literature, mapping interferences and differences from varied perspectives. We present our first iteration of the app, which enables scholars to navigate the literature through seven lenses-focus, agency, domain, date of publication, author keywords, and publication venue and type. Here we present the first iteration of the app, toward receiving critical input from concerned researchers, to validate our approach and ensure relevance moving forward.

Citation: Bertran, F. A., Jhaveri, S., Lutz, R., Isbister, K., Wilde, D. Visualising the landscape of Human-Food Interaction research. DIS2018, In Proc. Designing Interactive Systems. ACM (2018): 243–248. ACM link

Hand-making food ideals: crafting the design of future food-related technologies
Much technology is designed to help people enact processes faster and more precisely. Yet, these advantages can come at the cost of other, perhaps less tangible, values. In this workshop, we aim to articulate values associated with handmade through a co-creative exploration in the food domain. Our objective is to explore the potential of integrating such values into future food-related technologies. In a full day workshop we will: critically reflect on the notion of handmade; engage actively with food-production, plating and consumption-as design material; and conduct collective discussions around the values that these processes and materials can embody when attended to through lenses other than efficiency. By handmaking: touching, smelling, tasting, listening, speaking and enacting choreographies with the materials at hand, we hope to deepen the discussion of the meaning associated with the handmade and bring a richness to ways that designers imagine future food-related technologies.

Citation: Vannucci, E., Bertran, F. A., Marshall, J., Wilde, D. Hand-making food ideals: crafting the design of future food-related technologies. DIS2018, In Proc. Designing Interactive Systems. ACM (2018): 419–422. ACM link
Workshop website: handmakingfood.wordpress.com.

June 4, Food for Thought: Research apprentices book submission
This semester I worked with six very talented Research Apprentices: Jekaterina Aleksejeva, Jaleh Berhravan, Paul Biedermann, Iulia Gavriliuc, Ona Orlovaite and Valeria Vismara. Today they submitted their hand-made book, Food for Thought: Your Guide for Creating Bioplastics. Fantastic work!

Food for Thought 2018 Research Apprentices (from l–r) Valeria Vismara, Jekaterina Aleksejeva, Paul Biedermann, Iulia Gavriliuc, Ona Orlovaite and Jaleh Berhravan.


The front page of Food for Thought: Your DIY guide for creating bioplastics. As I write in the preface: it’s at once a design artefact, a report, an invitation and a call to arms.

March 15 one-off distributed event: BioShades
As part of TCBL—the EU Textile and Clothing Business Labs initiative, in collaboration with Fabricademy and WAAG, we co-hosted the one-off BioShades workshop and talks in the BodyBioSoft Lab.

More info: BioShades • Fabricademy • TCBL
Participating TCBL labs:

  • BodyBioSoft Lab, University of Southern Denmark – Kolding, Denmark.
  • Biologigaragen – Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Manufacture Copenhagen – Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • FabLab Kamp-Lintfort – Kamp-Lintfort, Germany.
  • Industrial Biotechnology & Biocatalysis Group – NTUA – Athens, Greece.
  • Fablab Frosinone – Frosinone, Italy.
  • Fabrica Arca – Palermo, Italy.
  • Lottozerro – Prato, Italy.
  • Textile Museum – Prato, Italy.
  • Oliva Creative Lab – São João da Madeira, Portugal.
  • Sanjotec Design Lab – São João da Madeira, Portugal.
  • Redu Place Lab – Iași, Romania.
  • Fab Textiles – Barcelona, Spain.


March 1–2 ENEC committee meeting, Cyprus

The second meeting of The European Network for Environmental Citizenship COST Action CA16229 took place in Cyprus. It was a great opportunity to continue conversations begun in Brussels in October last year, hear early country reports, map out upcoming actions for our working group: Primary Non-Formal Education (NB in Denmark, Primary Education is up to 15 years old), and begin structuring the forthcoming book.


February & March: Wearable Futures & Food for Thought
A new batch of students on the wearables course. Always exciting. A key driver of the course will be to investigate how wearable (design) fictions can help us to think about alternative nows.

+ a new batch of research apprentices. Here’s the project pitch they responded to:

Food for Thought
Eating is a fundamental human activity—everybody eats, not only to survive, but also to thrive personally, socially and culturally. Food for thought asks how our material engagements with food might be more nourishing. Our aims over the four months will be to make and grow edible cutlery and tableware; and understand cultural issues and opportunities for uptake. We will undertake material explorations and cultural investigations to reflect on these questions. We will also learn techniques for measuring micro-plastics in the food chain, as we seek to understand where alternative material practices might have an impact. Initial outcomes will be tested at the 4th international symposium of the Nordic-Baltic BioMedia Network FOOD+[material practices], in Kolding April 5–7, 2018. The symposium will bring together leading artists and design researchers from the Nordic and Baltic region, Germany and Switzerland, who use doing-it-together biology as cultural and material practice. To complete the research, our findings—reflections and recipes for both material and cultural transformation—will be collected as a recipe book. No previous experience with doing-it-together biology is required, but a keen interest in material interactions and participatory forms of Research through Design will be of benefit, as will graphic design and visual documentation skills. There are many challenges facing humans today. Not least, the climate crisis and the mass migration of peoples that prompt us to ask how humans might live, in order that we—and our planet, rich with diverse species—might flourish. Food for thought engages with this question directly, using food as a starting point from which to explore more sustainable material engagements around the everyday, intimate, mundane—socially, culturally and politically potent—act of eating.

February 16–17, DIYbio meeting #3, Stavanger, NO
The third DIYbio meeting took place over two days in Stavanger, hosted by the amazing Hege Tapio, of i/o/lab senter for framtidskunst. The event included a workshop on Bioluminescence, at Creator Makerspace, an Art & Science Cocktail evening at a venue called Tou Scene, with talks by myself, Miga Gapševičius, Martin Malthe Borch, and Kristina Lindström—video of the talks is available here, and a network meeting to unpack a bit more parallel, intersecting, complementary and divergent interests of the network members.