Wild Design

The words “wild” and “design” carry with them sustaining human dichotomies. The combination of both releases a wide array of conflicts and contradictions. “Wild” can’t escape eurocentric traditions of naturalism and supremacy, “design” - often untranslated from english - takes for granted human domineering agency over processes. As a stepping stone to get off the grid, this artistic research embraces the irony and contradictions of its title, interested in design practices in which human agency is not driven by notions of control, stability, durability or safety, instead they resonate with synonyms of “wild”, such as untamed, radical, marginal, uncontrollable, uncivilized, informal, undisciplined, unruly and unconventional. It looks into examples such as gambiarra, creole gardens, Zabbaleen, maraîchère... searching further design practices in which human agency comes through not as formal engineering processes, but dynamically develops into, as well as together with, systems. It hopes to contribute to a design thinking that breaks out of anthropocentric and hegemonic understandings of design and embraces the contradiction inherent to what wild means today. It is particularly engaged with responsive human-environment relationships that favor the circumstances over predetermined structures. As design is a pivot of how humans provide for their needs and solve their problems, this research calls attention to the ways in which it tends to marginalize a variety of undertakings and, by doing so, becomes unresponsive to new circumstances, namely to the emerging changes in and of environments. In spirit, this framework is thought to accommodate human regulatory roles that are dialogical and process-oriented, i.e. human participation in creation and problem-solving that operates within a paradigm of intertwined and evolving architectures. Different from cultures in which humans fulfill their needs by anticipating, starting from scratch, conceiving, planning and executing every step of a process up to its final goal, Wild Design embraces concepts of design and technology that admit active participation of non-human agents in horizontal ways. Ultimately we would like to participate in sketching an ecological approach which questions environmentalist discourses based on technocracy and conservative assumptions of what “nature” is, considering responsibility in terms of true engagement and embodied ambivalence.  Apart from incorporating other modes of thinking about human design and communication within processes, this framework also intends to contribute to the arts of noticing (Tsing) complex phenomena that have for long been placed peripherally in scientific, artistic, technological and social discourses.

Studies from the artistic research Wild Design

Studies from the artistic research Wild Design, images taken with a paper pinhole camera in Guiyu, China
© Monai de Paula Antunes
last update July 2022