The Objects of Design and Social Science


An interesting seminar series coming up at Goldsmiths, organised by the Interaction Research Studio, Department of Design and the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process, Department of Sociology.

Design and Social Science Seminar Series 2009-2010

The Objects of Design and Social Science

Common to both design and (parts of) the social sciences is a shared pre-occupation with objects. On the one hand, design is concerned with making and interpreting objects including the finished article (e.g. consumer products), ‘experimental’ design aids (e.g. prototypes), and projective representations (e.g. scenarios). Recently, design has also begun to re-engage with more speculative objects whose ambiguous functionality contributes to the exploration of the social and the material, the political and the aesthetic. On the other hand the social sciences also work with objects, including categorical objects such as race, gender, and health, empirical objects ranging from the mundane to the exotic, and conceptual objects such as the notions social scientists use to understand and theorize the social. Here, the sociology of science and technology has been especially productive, introducing notions such as boundary objects (Star & Griesemer, 1989), epistemic objects (Rheinberger, 1997), immutable mobiles (Latour, 1990), quasi-objects , black boxes (Latour, 1988) to name but a few. Accordingly, a focus on material, empirical and conceptual objects brings into sharp relief overlaps and disjuncture between the two disciplines and a rich space for dialogue.

This seminar series will seek to bring into view and explore existing objects of both design and social science as well as draw out objects of novelty for both disciplines. In doing so we will seek to engage with emerging issues and topics in both disciplines such as the outputs of speculative and critical design, participation, engagement and publics as well as addressing notions concerning heterogeneity, process and event. This series will continue to serve as a platform for opening up interdisciplinary research futures.

** Please Note: all seminars run from 4:00pm – 6:00pm and are hosted by the Interaction Research Studio, 6th Floor, Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW.

Autumn Term 2009

Seminar 1 | Wednesday October 14th

Introducing the Objects of Design and Social Science

With: Bill Gaver, Tobie Kerridge, Mike Michael & Alex Wilkie, Goldsmiths

Seminar 2 | Wednesday November 4th

Buildings as Things

With: Albena Yaneva. University of Manchester

Seminar 3 | Wednesday November 18th

Speculative Objects

With: James Auger, Royal College of Art & Jimmy Loizeau, Goldsmiths

Spring Term 2009

Seminar 4 | Wednesday January 27th

Objects and Services

With: Chris Downs

Seminar 5 | Wednesday February 17th

From objects to issues?

With: Noortje Marres, Oxford University

Seminar 6 | Wednesday March 10th

Object fair

With: Bill Gaver, Tobie Kerridge, Mike Michael & Alex Wilkie, Goldsmiths

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