Prototyping as Event: Designing the Future of Obesity

Wilkie, Alex. 2014. Prototyping as Event: Designing the Future of Obesity. Journal of Cultural Economy, 7(4), pp. 476-492. ISSN 1753-0350 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper takes up the notion of event to explore the practice of prototyping in design as a relational process generative of multiple becomings. The paper outlines a case involving a team of user-centred designers as they envision, construct and demonstrate a wearable technology to intervene in public health warnings concerning obesity. The paper examines various co-becomings of users and technology through the course of a two-stage development cycle and employs the heuristic distinction between ‘distal’ and ‘proximal’ users as means to examine the different definitions of obesity occasioned therein. The term ‘inventive risk discourse’ is coined to describe the designers’ articulation of the problem space of obesity as a future figuring putative users. Examples of proximal users are then discussed as users involved in the various enactments of the prototype system as it is programmed and assembled in the present. The implications of this are discussed in terms of the specific definitions of obesity that concresce around particular prototype–user assemblages as well as indicators of overspill that often exceed normative accounts. In conclusion, I consider the case as a rough cosmopolitical sketch where designers engage obesity science as inventive problem making where multiple empirical variations of obesity emerge.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


prototype, event, design, becoming, obesity

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]


28 June 2013Accepted
25 November 2013Published Online
November 2014Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2013 08:58

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2021 15:41

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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