Pivot 2021 Virtual Conference July 22-23 2021
Dismantling Reassembling - tools for alternative futures

Design Listening – connecting to the Pluriverse

I would like to present listening as a de-colonial design practice. One that realigns our relationships with the things around us whether materials often labelled as inanimate, or plants that are viewed as materials for our use. During the UK’s first Covid 19 lockdown in March 2020, I moved my focus from materials to plants and recorded the sound of Poly the plant on my desk using audio pads attached to Poly’s leaves. The audio in this presentation is produced by bio-electrical pulses caused by the plant’s circulation as it draws water up. Using this early-stage research, the presentation considers, through theorists such as Pedro Vieira de Oliveira, Kodwo Eshun and Paul Gilroy how sound gives voice to the unheard; alters the listener and opens up a new network of relationships to the pluriverse around us. It concludes by asking what would happen if we were to listen more carefully to our plants and materials to understand their worlds. If we really listened, to change our behaviour, what would we do?

Design listening, Sonic fiction, Pluriverse, Post-Anthropocene.

About Jane Norris

Jane Norris (she / her) is a white, queer, first generation academic and an immigrant to the UK. She has a cross disciplinary background in speculative material theory, critical writing and digital media. She led a BA Hons in 3D Design Craft at an FE college in the east end of London for ten years and recently undertook post-doctoral research in Critical Writing at the Royal College of Art. She is at present trying to write a speculative design novel: ‘Re-Pairing’ that explores our relationship with sentient matter through storytelling. Jane has had design fiction short stories published in Virtual Futures Anthologies. She runs workshops on listening to materials at galleries and teaches internationally. Jane is currently Associate Dean for the School of Liberal Arts at Richmond the American University in London. Twitter: @janeviatopia

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