This project aims to examine the way that language interacts with design. Starting with Foucault’s discourse analysis, I examined the ontology of design to determine how language influenced it. For example, one current and important movement in design is the “decentralisation” of it. But if it were to be widely referred to “post centralisation”, does that change the way that designers would respond to it? What meaning and power, does language hold within design? The speculation of alternative design futures in this way led to a shift in my work; from the critique of language in design, to the use of language to express design dilemmas. The following are two examples of projects that use language in a playful and experimental way to generate new insight into tensions within design.
If Language were a Sandwich
This poem was part of a process to help organise my own understanding of how examining language fit within the sustainable design discipline. Using a sandwich as a metaphor meant that I could stretch the meanings of words to expand on what I was trying to say. By incorporating food into the explanation, it rooted these conceptual ideas into something more familiar and tangible. This became the basis for the performance of the poem. I wanted the audience to not only hear and see the words, but also to be able to smell and touch them too. It extended the mode of communication past language itself into a visceral experience for the audience to understand.
I adopted the use of poetry again to understand systems within design. There is a disparity between the knowledge that we have of unsustainable practices and behaviour change. So, I considered it as a toxic relationship between a character and “Slick”. He is a physical embodiment of un-sustainability in the fictional narrative. It begins with the character in denial that “Slick” cannot be terrible and that there are great qualities about him too. It moves towards the character being protective of “Slick” and she feels criticisms of him are harsh. It concludes with her reflecting on the absence of him. However, she feels connected to him because even though he is not physically with her, he is close through the systems that she lives in. This comes back to the idea that unsustainable practices are systemic and addressing one area in isolation does not tackle the wider reaching issues. This poem has a strong emphasis on the phonetic as opposed to metaphors like in the previous poem. It is intended to be a provocation instead of a reflection of my own views.
This is Slick.
People predict that Slick is a pr*ck.
They purse their lips but their tricks don’t stick.
Some say Slick is pertained to pain
but it’s strange… because Slick still sits in profit—
In favour! Not favour, more behaviour,
still quick to stick with our Slick.
Remember when Slick was so hip?!
Slick as in through thick combed hair
not Slick like lying thick in the pacific—
That thick, viscous Slick.
Before malicious gossip.
Now in deficit.
Do we just erase the good old days?
turn our backs, renounce our praise?
soak up, expunge our toxic Slick
like he doesn’t exist?
Set this prerequisite for things that don’t fit?
So now I reminisce.
On warnings missed and ignorant bliss.
And when I lament on my predicament,
I sit. Content, in my element.
Knowing Slick still inhabits every facet.
And that I was and still am complicit.