Rows of multi-coloured post it notes stuck to a white wall with different styles of handwriting on each note.

Design Fiction: Chemical stories

Creative Users in partnership with Ryerson University, is commissioning 5 disability-identified artists and designers to participate in a Design Fiction series this summer that will explore our ‘chemical lives’ within a fictional narrative and critical design framework. The theme, ‘Chemical Stories’ is part of an emerging design-based inquiry entitled ‘Thinking with our Chemical Stories’.

This project begins with the assertion that all people encounter chemicals – sanctioned and illicit, helpful and harmful – in diverse and complicated ways. This is particularly true for disabled people who rely on prescribed and generic chemicals for everyday functioning and survival. Yet our chemical stories typically position disability as an undesirable outcome of our chemical lives, and consequently a site of a precarious, dangerous, imperiled or obliterated future.

What is Design Fiction?

Design Fiction work shopping facilitates the co-production of speculative design through collaborative thinking, story making and critical design. Workshops typically combine elements of science fiction, science fact and critical design to create prototypes that exist within ‘story worlds’. Using ‘near future’ technologies, within a fictional narrative context, allows those who develop and interact with Design Fictions to ‘suspend disbelief about change’. Prototypes serve as provocative entry points to generate open dialogue and space in which to raise questions, explore legal, ethical and social debate and form critical insights about social or policy related problems.

Through facilitated conversations within the Design Fiction workshop, we hope to explore how disabled people encounter, seek, avoid and interpret chemicals in our everyday lives and the impact these encounters have on our embodied experience, our selves, our relations to others and our imagined and preferred futures. Ultimately we hope to create space where our chemical encounters may be re-imagined in the future as vital, generative, pleasurable and desirable.
The public is invited to attend an unveiling of the design prototype on Friday, August 4, 2017 (TBD) at RE/Lab, Ryerson University, 483 Bay Street, Toronto, ON

About the Facilitator
Andy Darby is a Research Associate in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University and a PhD candidate at HighWire, a trans-disciplinary doctoral training programme, working across Design, Computing and Management at Lancaster University. His PhD research explores Participatory Design Fictions and other co-creative methods for speculative design in the areas of human computer interaction and futures debate.