Situated Actions

Given formatting changes to PDC2020’s program, Situated Actions (SA) will now be presented as an online exhibition featuring design/art pieces that can be experienced as installations, happenings, and demos through Hubs, a virtual reality platform by Mozilla. As part of the conference program, attendees will have the opportunity to choose from and participate in two (1) of  thirteen (13) interactive sessions featuring mini-workshops with the artists (pre-registration is required).   The  sessions are grouped in 2 and they take place on Wednesday June 17th afternoon (3:30 and 4:30 pm).


On June 17th, after the interactive sessions are completed, the online exhibition will be open to everybody, everywhere in the world.

SA Chairs: Emily Crompton (Manchester School of Architecture – GBR), Per-Anders Hillgren (Mälmo University – SWE), Daria Loi (Mozilla – USA), Pablo Ochoa (Universidad de Caldas – COL)

SA1 –  Power Dynamics // Climate Emergency

Wednesday June 17th, 3:30 pm

Power Dynamics 

The Deafening Silence of Public Hearings

Christine Hegel, Alix Gerber, Luke Cantarella

The Deafening Silence of Public Hearings invites participants to embody civic engagement through simulation, disruption, and rehearsal.  Congregating in a space designed to heighten the uneven power dynamics of a typical New York City public hearing, participants will have the opportunity to play with communicating powerfully in this environment. This is a prototype for future use as part of an ongoing project of engaged anthropology with a community of canners (waste pickers) in Brooklyn, NY, and builds on the goals of an emergent “Canner Advocacy Task Force.”  This piece suggests that participatory approaches to strengthening civic engagement can benefit from a phenomenological perspective that addresses the operations and felt immediacies of bodies entangled in structural power dynamics. 

Talking Frontiers. A scenography to draw, tell and write stories about what separates and unites us.

Natalia Perez Orrego, Andrea Carolina Cuenca

Talking Frontiers is situated action that will be realize in San José neighborhood at urban area of Manizales-Colombia, where people have been forced to intra-urban migration by governmental macro project. The proposal presents an experience guided by a system of raw interfaces, conceived for the development of a creative and collaborative participation of the public in which a scenography is constructed to draw, tell and write stories that intertwine the community’s subjectivities on the identity of the subjects, of the territory and of the limit involved in the concept of border. This citizen discussion can be provoked from 3 different creative participations sessions: to recognize, to cross or to revoke the frontier. This activity facilitates the formation in civility and a collective commitment about the social use of the urban space through the participatory design supported in the open-ended interfaces that can be replicated by the delivery of the open license work methodology.


Sticks, Ropes, Land: Confronting Colonial Practices in Public Space Design

Laura E. Kozak, Charlotte A. Falk, C. Jean Chisholm

Common participatory design and community consultation practices often tokenize participants’ input. This can limit the depth of information shared, lead to disconnected understandings of site, and perpetuate hierarchical structures between designers, planners and the communities they seek to serve. Sticks, Ropes, Land proposes alternative approaches for engaging with community stewards and groups who get marginalized in the design of public space. Through the development of practices that pair material-based methods of making with activities grounded in direct connections to place, Sticks, Ropes, Land puts forward approaches to participatory design that aim to question and problematize colonial structures in relation to public space design. This paper examines a series of three approaches that designers might consider towards the work of serving and supporting the agency and rights of place-based communities

Climate Emergency

Next stop: Manizales! Staging a Co-Drive journey between Italy and Colombia

Laura Boffi, Giuseppe Mincolelli, Marcello Carrozzino

The Co-Drive situated action within PDC2020 is an intergenerational intervention between elderly people in Rome, Italy, and younger adults in Manizales, Colombia, and vice versa, which consists of experiencing a car journey together through VR and telepresence technologies. We stage a series of Co-Drive journeys as a rehearsal of a possible service enabled by autonomous cars, looking at such technology beyond safety, efficiency and driving functionality. In particular, we aim to probe if autonomous cars could provide a social context for new intergenerational encounters in the shape of a shared car trip. We will set-up the prototypes of the technological equipment both in Manizales and Rome so that people could enact the Co-Drive journey between Colombia and Italy. By rehearsing the experience in-context, we aim to prompt participants to fill the gaps of what the Co-Drive service, as well as automated driving technologies, might be in the future and mean for them. 

2030 International RHIZomatic Assembly (IRHIZA)

Nik Baerten, Virginia Tassinari, Liesbeth Huybrechts, Elisa Bertolotti

In an interactive design fiction performance we explore the notion of non-human intelligences and their active agency in political discourse. Through speculative means a future context serves as both backdrop and design space for debates between humans and plants, exploring how the scientifically envisioned increased means of communication between the two could shape new solutions and realities. The performance hence deals with an expanded notion of “participation” and debate beyond mere human actors. In a multidisciplinary setting, participants stemming from both design and other fields of research (e.g. (ethno)botany, (neuro)biology, anthropology, etc.) will engage in a role-play and joint speculative storytelling effort aimed at exploring new questions regarding the challenges and opportunities shaped by such a future world. 

Food Carbon Footprint Index (FCFI)

Raphael Arar, Olivia Arar

Imagine a dystopian future wherein late capitalism requires that individuals are solely responsible for the climate crisis. Imagine a future where government surveillance of individuals becomes the popular standard for curbing carbon emissions and non-compliance results in serious penalties. The Food Carbon Footprint Index (FCFI) imagines just that. FCFI, a design provocation based on this design fiction, requires participants to log their meals via a “government controlled web application” meant to audit individual consumption. The app will calculate the meal’s carbon footprint and index this “score” against other participants. Scores will be broadcasted for public scrutiny and collective shaming. 

OVERLOOKED / investigation into speculative scenarios where nature reversed biomimicry

Inna Alesina, David Guzman

In response to the “Participation(s) otherwise” theme of the conference and the Local/global – place/territory anchor points, the authors will use a model of symbiotic relationships found in nature to investigate possible intersections of design with other disciplines. The OVERLOOKED project will be presented in two parts 1) Overlooked Structures—a hands-on biomimicry display/ interactive exhibition. This can include live instructions and educational materials such as nature walks (or similar if place permits) and an interactive display for directed participation. 2) Overlooked Species Zoo—an immersive roleplay situation that can run alongside the interactive exhibition allowing participants to act out, bodystorm, and prototype speculative scenarios where biomimicry is reversed: nature borrows human tools of advertisement and marketing to perpetuate its own agenda. The tangible outcomes of both parts can be collages, drawings, and short writings that will be displayed in the space for the conference guests to see.  The techniques explored will be beneficial for a wide audience and especially useful to non-designers. Participants can include educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, design students, designers, engineers, UX developers, artists, and anyone curious about collaborating with other disciplines.

SA2 – Material Politics // Embodied Identities

Wednesday June 17th, 4:30 pm

Material Politics

Live looms- The fabric-action of caring

Ilona Pappne Demecs 

While today technological advances enrich everyday practices in health care, humans as the central focus of caring often fade into the background. Within the frame of situated action, this participatory art practice proposes a creative intervention which places the human into an essential part of the construction. Using the basic principles of participatory design in this project, participants- future and present health care professionals- will form a ‘warp’ and perform weaving on a live loom to mimic the essentials of human relationships and interactions in the caring process. The outcome of this project is twofold, one is the experience of the performing stage which could be used as a potential teaching tool for better understanding the position of the cared for, the second is the creative practice that will produce small woven fabrics which will be part of the exhibition of this situated action project. 

Time(s) to Listen: A Collection of Asynchronous Experiences 

Eliana Sánchez-Aldana, Jaime Patarroyo, Adriana Villamizar, Camila Padilla Casas, Nasif Rincón 

How does reconciliation feel? This growing collection of testimonial digital textiles, currently composed of 2 pieces— initiated by women’s textile collectives and intervened by the Remendar lo Nuevo (Mending the New) team—invite us to look, touch and a different way to textile messages about reconciliation in a situated way. Participants will have the opportunity to get involved in a different way with these testimonial digital textiles and to respond to the women’s messages embedded in them. The pieces allow an asynchronous, open-ended, and multi-situated conversation between the collectives and the participants. The intervention seeks to create a patchwork of discourses on reconciliation from emotions and senses in the day-to-day life in a bottom-up dynamic.

Constellations: Designing participatory engagement and end of life

Karen Oikonen, Kate Wilkes

Constellations is a participatory art installation exploring the family experience of end of life. Held in January 2019 at Artscape Youngplace, a community-based arts hub, Constellations was part of DesignTO, a 10-day art and design festival in the city of Toronto. People were invited to select a ball of yarn and weave their experience of death and dying through a series of questions. What emerged was a tactile expression of the universal human experience of end-of-life, honouring individual experiences while revealing patterns in the collective. As one participant shared, “It felt like walking a labyrinth and everyone else’s paths were visible.” At the closing of the festival, the designers removed each string, capturing the data that underpinned the visual patterns. This paper describes the installation and presents the value of creating opportunities for participatory art installations as an approach to engaging the public in conversations about death and dying.

Cardboard Catwalk/Outside-IN

Joan Beadle, Gavin Perry

Photographic and Video Exhibition documenting the trajectory of a collaborative
educational project and its contexts both inside and outside of the educational institution with examples from the 20 years of its existence. The exhibition is accompanied by ‘Outside-IN session exploring verbal and non-verbal methods of
communication within collaborative and participatory design.

Embodied Identities

The Politics of Me: Visualizing Affordances of the Designer

Jessica Jacobs

The Politics of Me: Visualizing Affordances of the Designer is an interactive, online participatory situated action that seeks to foster communication and collaboration among participants engaged with anti-racist, anti-oppressive methodologies intended to develop equitable design interventions and solutions. During the online interaction, participants create and discuss their own personal data visualizations. In response to the conference call for Participation(s) Otherwise, how might we make transparent plural understandings and privileges (associated with race,
gender, ethnicity, class, etc.) with the hopes of facilitating collaboration towards designing for more equitable, systemic solutions?

GAME: playing a boardgame co-designed with a group of people with psychosis

Erika Renedo Illarregi 

This situated action aims to engage local community and conference attendees in testing, playing, and reflecting on a board game produced as part of a co-design project with people with psychosis. This project was part of a collaborative doctoral award with a mental health charity, exploring the role of co-design as a mode of treatment. The co-design project was not set up with the intention of developing this artefact, and the collaboration began without a design brief. A broad design purpose emerged through time, that of expressing a notion of Stewardship, or taking care of, which resulted in the development of a board game, GAME. The situated actions at PDC provide a great context for trying out this board game. Playing it could be a greatly enriching way for PDC attendees to engage with the project and lead to further discussions about the nature and potential of participatory design.

Ultrasound Vol.2

Minjee Jon 

This series of work is speculative research designed to extend empathy to those who feel disconnected from the superficial expectations imposed by social media and create a context to reflect upon possible realities outside of typical social experiences. The project begins with questions; how can we use design to talk about humanity, to be considerate to others, to practice and liberate cultural conventional forms and meanings of “expected” bodies; and to embrace and ultimately to celebrate differences? What are the ways to recognize the essence of human beings that we hold in common? Ultrasound Vol.2 discusses new ways of seeing through subverting the concept of “self-improvement via digital filters” by degrading the image quality of the reflected viewer’s imagery.

Mi Fink a musical app about afro-caucan territory protection

Andrés Eduardo Nieto Vallejo, Isabel Cristina Tobón Giraldo, Carlos Torres Parra

The traditional Afro-Caucan farm is part of the northern Cauca culture in Colombia, but it is threatened. Mi Fink is an interactive app that vindicates traditional farming as a form of community work and an afro-descendant expression. This research-creation project is a case of participatory design carried out among boys and girls from the village of Villa Rica in northern Cauca in Colombia, with a team of professionals from different areas and academic researchers. This experience shows how children can carry out novel activities such as stop motion animation with digital devices despite expected limitations related to digital technologies access. On the other hand, this case study provides clues to demonstrate how participatory design allows the transition from passive mobile phone use to a creative perspective where marginalized actors from official discourse can participate in the construction of other stories.

situated actions