The video was inspired by ideas that one of the makers of the video installation had after reading Ida Engholm’s new book Design for the New World. From Human Design to Planet Design, which is published by Intellect Press in autumn 2022. The key point of the book is that we can apply a design perspective to the environmental and climate crisis facing the world right now but only by embracing a fundamentally new design mindset and approach.
The core idea of the book is that if we want to achieve a more sustainable world we need to set a new agenda for design, shifting from a primary focus on products and results to seeing our decisions in a broader existential perspective. A perspective in which we ask ourselves what it is we are doing, not just as individuals, organizations or nations but as a species.
That requires us to rethink the very conditions of design, a perspective that is also known as meta-design and which describes the basic worldview and values (in scientific terms: our onto-epistemological assumptions) underpinning our design actions.
The point of the video installation is that our worldview frames our perception of reality and thus shapes the intentions behind our design. Changing our worldview means changing our ideas about why, what and how we design. This is a process that necessarily has to involve a deeper reinvention of our practice AND ourselves. What is most important? What sort of world do we wish to live in? What do we wish to pass on to future generations?
By inspiring reflections such as these, the video aims to raise questions about the meaning of our creative practices and encourage us to make nature the preferred target of our attention. Importantly, in this context, ‘nature’ is not a term for all the phenomena preceding the activities and creations of the human spirit or a concept that stands in contrast to culture. Here, to borrow the words of French philosopher Emauele Coccia, nature is ‘what makes it possible for everything to be born and to become, the principle and the force that are responsible for the genesis and transformation of any object, thing, entity, or idea that exists and will ever exist. To identify nature (…) means first of all to make nature not a separate principle, but that which expresses itself in everything that is.1
In this sense, humanity is not an abstract or ahistorical entity that exists outside the world. Instead, humanity is deeply connected with the world, and everything we do has consequences far beyond our own lives. Our sphere of influence is vast, and that implies an ethical responsibility. Our impact on the world not only includes what we create (products, cities, infrastructure and satellites) but also what we do not build or do not destroy. As American climate philosopher Jedediah Purdy put it, ‘Nature no longer exists apart from humanity. The world we will inhabit is the one we have made’.2 Thus, the question for our future creative endeavours, including design, should be how we can create without doing harm. How to create to regenerate?
Don’t just do something, sit there… With this piece, we invite the audience to sit down and experience the language of the processes of life – within, outside and among us. The video encourages us to embrace the silence, the calm quality of attending to what is – in the extended, unfolding now and in the expansive herethat form the space of the installation.
The video is an invitation to continue exploring in processes of cocreation, as hosts or participants in events and adventures as we expand our ability to perceive, change our perspective and engage in the living world around us and the future that is becoming. A future that we are cocreators of and contributors to. As historian David Wolf Graeber put it, ‘The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make and could just as easily make differently.3
1. Coccia (2018). The life of plants: A metaphysics of mixture. (p. 17) (Trans. D. J. Montanari). Polity. Translated from La Vie des Plantes – Une métaphysique du mélange. Éditions Payot & Rivages (2016).
2. Purdy, J. (2015). After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene. Harvard University Press.
3. Graeber, D. W. (2015). The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy. (p. 89). Melville House.