Sketchnote – Speculative Everything – Chapters 3 and 4

Both chapters were enjoyable reads.
Chapter 3 – Covering the authors thinking about design critique as a catalyst for change and social usefulness to something more subversive, got me thinking about chemistry notation. Using a chemical notation style,  I wanted Chapter 3’s half of the sketchnote to show design critique’s catalytic power and manifestation in design materiality and consumer engagement.

The description of ‘Dark Design’ refracting Idealism & optimism into facets described in the chapter inspired the idea the prism metaphor. As it can manifest as speculative design with a darkly ironic twist designed to provoke thought and question, I was reminded of the UK Series ‘Black Mirror‘ a series of dark, exploratory and cautionary stories set in modern societies with different values/facets to ours and near futures. The stories explore themes similarly to the aspects Chapter 3 describe of ‘Dark design’. (Note: some stories may be disturbing and viewer discretion is advised)

Chapter 4 explores the intersection of design critique as a way to explore scientific research and design, drawing on recent and speculative examples of ‘Sci Art’. It also discusses how moving from the lab, to market then everyday life can result in changes in design, citing XEROC PARCs work on interface design manifesting in products we see daily e.g. Apple and Microsoft shaped by forces including critical consumption and advertising.


Through transgenic fusions of plant and flesh, exhibited artifacts described in this chapter, provoke discussion and discomfort as a way to question ‘should we?’ in ways lab experiments cannot. Hayes experiments and ones preceding it discuss the commoditsation of human genetic material that let people own ‘living’ remnants of others reminded me of several films and TV shows exploring this.

Bladerunner with commodtised, purpose built human ‘replicants’ with a four year lifespan, forcing consumers to replace them. The Island, shows another dystopian future where the rich pay for clones to be raised for spare parts but actually self aware, who are harvested and euthanised , (not the non conscious ‘agnates’ the Islands marketing team tell them).  Almost Human, a near future sci-fi with androids. Chapter 4 reminded me of Episode Two in particular, where androids are illegally covered in harvested human skin to increase their appeal.

In light of the next module, ‘Gibsonian practices’, Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson, has a plot thread including a scientist who made a deal with an artificial intelligence to modify (part of) his daughters brain into a hybridsed ‘bio-soft’ which raises many ethical and moral questions of what it means to be human, consent and societal change if we can interact with an online world through an in built biological interface.

The projects described in Chapter 4 and the film/tv shows I’ve outlined, can make people question if it can be done in the lab, should it be released into the market potentially changing how we see and value aspects of life and society.

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