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Animistic Practices for Critical Design

09 | 2022

Critical design is frequently based on irony, disruption or alienation and creates a sense of distance. In this book I look for alternatives within New Materialism and in theories about animism, a concept that is strongly influenced by the colonial era but has undergone a revision. How might critique and reflection work if we understand humans to be inextricably bound to their environment?

The book allows insights in the research I did in my PhD. Here, I identified four animistic practices and discussed them in relation to design. Paradoxically, critical distance emerges through proximity. The practices play with an alternation between the self and the other and are (self)reflexive. They are particularly suitable for exploring and designing networked or anthropomorphic artifacts (such as IoT devices and voice assistants) whose boundaries to each other and to humans are blurred.

Within my PhD I  engaged with old animism, new animism, and techno-animism. Result is a book about non-anthropocentric ways of thinking, acting and researching and an approach for critical design under conditions of 21st-century technology.

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