Nested Bodies (or A Small and Careful Spoonful)
The craft practice of fermentation prioritizes embodied know-how in the maker, and collaboration between the practitioner, fermenting microbes, and other beings and elements implicated in the process. This project draws on embodied research methodologies to develop a material fermentation practice into a process-led research praxis, wherein theories of embodiment and the relational bodily self can be explored through direct contact with nonhuman agents. Theory and concepts from the performing arts, Indigenous Knowledge, phenomenology, and interaction design all contribute to a re-framing of the human as a body dependent on others in the life-making activities of preparing, feeding, and eating the ferments. The microbes the human seeds and feeds within the ferment, in turn seed and feed the microbes within the human: multiple human and innumerable microbial bodies form nested collective bodies. This project is an exploration of how this kind of body-first approach may contribute to a more situated sense of designing in and with the living world around us: it invites into the work ecosystems within which our bodies are nested (and which we have nested within us), in order to help cultivate the perception of a relational self which is deeply invested in our interconnected living systems.
embodied design research, fermentation, praxis, multispecies
Julie Van Oyen (she/her) is a designer, researcher, educator, and recent graduate from the Master of Design program at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, which is situated on the unceded territories of the the xwməθk-wəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səlílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) NaEons. She is the daughter of Western European se_lers and immigrants, and was raised among the pines on the unceded territories of the Sqilxʷ/Sylix (Okanagan) Peoples. Growing, living, working, and learning as an uninvited guest on those sacred lands has deeply influenced Julie’s design pracEce, wherein she explores embodied knowledge & design, more-than-human interacEons, and digital service design with local communiEes. In parEcular, she hopes to honour and serve the land, its Indigenous caretakers, and the interconnected, caring, and complex relaEons of all who live upon it (human and nonhuman). She also gratefully acknowledges the deep and rich contribuEons of the BIPOC and queer communiEes on her design educaEon and work, in parEcular on collaboraEve projects during her master’s degree. Her work presented at this conference is a direct result of the influence of these communiEes’ transformaEve knowledge, methodologies, and organizing. 2