Announcing Issue 4 of the Journal of Design and Science, co-edited by Dr. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and designer Natsai Audrey Chieza! “Other Biological Futures” looks at biodesign—the design of, with, or from biology. Biodesign is being promoted by scientists and designers as an ecological remedy, a technological challenge, an economic opportunity, and a manufacturing and industrial revolution. This issue of JoDS asks whether biodesign in practice really can make things better, and change things for the good.
In Issue 4, we identify difficulties that we see emerging in contemporary biodesign, and open up new directions for investigation. Initiating conversations between scientists, designers, curators, artists, bioengineers, activists, historians, and more, all who are somehow other to each other, the issue reveals complex issues in biodesign around the world. We’ll release the conversations serially as we consider different kinds of colonisation in biodesign, raise ethical issues in designing living matter and, hopefully, reach beyond our networks and cultures to encourage the imagination of other biological futures.
The journal is a joint venture of the MIT Media Lab and the MIT Press, and is hosted on PubPub, a platform for open peer review and free exchange of ideas. We encourage you to submit a peer review of a conversation that inspires or challenges you and to posit your own ideas using the submission form on the JoDS website.
What is better? Whose better? And who gets to decide? I spent the last four years asking these questions in my PhD by project at London's Royal College of Art in the Design Interactions, and I'm delighted that I passed my viva with no corrections in November 2017! Through my projects and interventions in synthetic biology, I used design to to question better, opening up the possibility of alternative dreams.
I'm now looking to publish "Better" and start making projects again. If you have project ideas, want me to come and talk about "better", or want to find out more, please get in touch.
I'm looking forward to doing two talks at this month's London Design Festival, taking a little time out from my PhD write-up (6 months to go!).
This Saturday, I'll be talking about my favourite design topic, turning Shit into Gold with radical design expert Cat Rossi and Luca Cipelletti, the director of Italy's extraordinary Museo della Merda aka The Shit Museum. The talk is part of Dirty Furniture Magazine's festival exhibition, Toilet Break. Free tickets here.
As part of the Global Design Forum hosted at the V&A Museum, I'll be joining curator Rory Hyde and Anders Sandberg of Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute to discuss Imagination for the Future, exploring different methods to project into our future. Tickets here.
For Knotty Objects, the first MIT Media Lab Design Summit, I was set a challenge by the conference curators, Paola Antonelli, Kevin Slavin and Neri Oxman to 'captain' a team to make a short provocation about in vitro meat. Along the way, we discovered that the steak incorporated all the hallmarks of a knotty object, a term coined for the summit. Working with New York based production comapny m ss ng p eces, who were commissioned to make four shorties in all (bitcoin, brick, steak and phone) and in vitro meat speculative designer, Koert Van Mensvoort, our provocation attempts to move away from the existing discussions around the palatibility of in vitro meat, and instead to delve into the complex discussion around sustainability, human desire and industrial capitalism that drives the meat industry. Many different agendas. In three minutes.
The shortie was a provocation for the panel New Dimensions in Organic Design (video) moderated by Alexandra Midal, where we discussed the design of life with scientist Kevin Esvelt from Harvard's Wyss Institute, and Isha Datar of New Harvest, a not-for-profit that supports in vitro meat as a future industry.
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Image: Justinas Vilutis.