Exploring the Temporalities of a Tandem in the Jungle

Healy, Liam. 2021. 'Exploring the Temporalities of a Tandem in the Jungle'. In: Society for Social Studies of Science: 4S Annual Meeting 2021. Toronto, Canada 6-9 October 2021. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores temporality in speculative design research by examining a tandem bicycle research device that my colleagues and I deployed in the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Northern France between 2016 and 2019. I begin by telling a set of stories recorded during the bike’s deployment to consider the multiple temporalities, forms of speculation and ontologies that it participated in. For example, I explore the relationship between agency, waiting and boredom in the camp, and problematise the different (and sometime shared) experiences between different users, for example, speed, waiting, and boredom that the bike brings to light. In doing so I find that the bike enacts different possibilities and temporalities by momentarily escaping the researcher’s control. By referring (and contrasting) to practices associated with speculative and critical design, I argue that this form of practice — what I call a-firmative speculation — requires a re-thinking of temporality to the linear conceptions of time (like past, present and future) prevalent in design discourses and practices.

To problematize these, I concur with Elaine Gan et al.’s assertion that we should be careful not to think of ladders as the only image of time (2017: G9), and attempt to develop alternative ways of conceiving of the present and so-called futures, with an image of temporality that percolates and crumples (Serres and Latour, 1995). Finally I argue that these images of temporality suggest a re-framing of care in relation to speculative design objects, and I draw a distinction between, on the one hand, practices concerned with protecting and closing down possibilities, and on the other, those that are concerned with bringing about new possibilities and consequences.

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Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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October 2021Completed

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Toronto, Canada

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6-9 October 2021

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Date Deposited:

24 Nov 2021 10:15

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2021 10:15



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