Sympoiesis of Making

7th May

10:30am – 12pm

If the activity of matter is taken seriously, design itself has to be conceived as a highly  entangled process of co-creation. This collaborative endeavour is not only negotiated  between human agents but also a vast variety of more-than-human agencies and their  respective relations. The notion of sympoiesis (Haraway 2016) provides a novel  understanding of design processes through emphasizing the ways agencies and environments  emerge and affect each other: Every task and every event in the workshop, in the lab, at the  desk, the computer screen, the outdoors etc. presents itself as a becoming-with of highly  heterogeneous agents. Questions of representation, respons-ability (Haraway 2008; Barad  2014), translation, visibility and scale are at the heart of performing and understanding these  processes of co-creation and require refined modes to account for our work as designers.
_Barad, K. (2014). “Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart”. In: Parallax, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 168–187, DOI:10.1080/13534645.2014.927623.
Haraway, D. J. (2008). When Species Meet. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.
Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham/London: Duke Univ. Press.

Susanne Witzgall, Akademie der Bildenden Künste München
Sympoietic Designing as Ethical Project
Since New Materialism attributes agency to matter and materials and aims to resolve modern dualisms like those between human and non-human, mind and body, the semantic and the material, advocating a flat ontology, it comes as no surprise that it also fosters an understanding of the process of making that differs significantly from the conventional view. Together with new ecological thinking new materialist approaches not only open an enlightening perspective on the process of making or designing, challenging, among others, the human fantasy of total control, but they also provide – as I aim to show in my talk – an important basis for developing a concept of “relational designing” or “sympoietic designing” as an ethical project badly needed in the face of “capitalist ruins” (Tsing) and a “damaged planet” (Haraway). In this context my contribution will elaborate on the idea that “sympoietic designing”, which can be understood as “designing with care”, has to be characterized as a complex twofold endeavour. It comprises the disposition and capacity of the maker to be deeply affected and guided by materials and their essential properties as well as the designer’s capability to take into account and assume responsibility for the fact that the extraction and using of materials and the making of things have great affecting powers and are “crafting interspecies lives and worlds” (Hustak/Mayers).

Adriana Knouf, tranxxenolab/independent artist, Amsterdam
Facilitating New Relations for the Tranxxeno
The tranxxeno are those entities both trans and xeno: those who exist in the interstitial spaces, who are in the process of transformation, who desire mutation into something other than their originary state. They utilise and repurpose the technoscientific capacities of the moment while simultaneously drawing upon ancient practices of self-experimentation and ritual. They look for allies across species and carbon boundaries. The tranxxeno shun the retrenchment of established, normative boundaries in times of crisis, and instead look for the small, obscured openings for *ontopoiesis*, or the reconfiguration of our ontologies through practices of making.
The presentation will briefly cover some recent research coming from the tranxxeno lab that engages with these ideas. This work has considered new imaginaries for our relationships with outer space, the possibilities of hormonal alterations from within our bodies, and the new relations between entities that become necessary elements of living within extreme environments. These projects make manifest the myriad forms of co-creation required to for the tranxxeno to not only survive, but thrive, within this cosmos.

Zoe Laughlin, University College London 
Performing Materials/Abstracting Stuff: Adventures in Making
Materials perform. Stuff is constantly getting up to things. Matter is doing all of the time, at varying scales of time and space, in order to exist and generate the world of objects. This presentation will render the micro macro, challenge the status of stuff and reflect on the role materials play in the game of making.

Moderation: Léa Perraudin, Cluster of Excellence »Matters of Activity«, HU Berlin

Panel Speakers

Susanne Witzgall
Adriana Knouf

Zoe Laughlin 
Léa Perraudin (Moderation)