Designing the Invisible: Speculating the Immaterial in the Material

John Vines, Martyn Woodward and Brigitta Zics

In this seminar, Martyn Woodward, John Vines and Dr. Brigitta Zics will present research dealing with the implications of looking beyond some of the materialistic and reductionalist ontologies that frame contemporary interaction theory and practice.

Martyn Woodward will examine how theories of visual perception have shifted between direct or indirect accounts of experience and cognition. Moving the focus away from idealist and realist notions to an enacted reality, he will point to a middle-ground in which the invisible enacted processes that underlie visual perception move it away from representationalist accounts of perception and reality.

John Vines will explain how designers have constructed a number of approaches to fathom the lifeworld of ageing humans, which traditionally focus upon; the physical changes of ageing; the cognitive changes of ageing; and the behavioural changes of ageing. Through interrogating emerging arguments from cognitive science, philosophy of the mind and autonomous Artificial Intelligence, speculative scenarios of ageing humans enacting alongside plausible future technologies will be developed that highlight how it is possible to go beyond the reductionalist-functionalist approaches traditionally implemented by designers.

Brigitta Zics will introduce a hermeneutic conception of ‘invisibility’ that describes a great variety of cognitive qualities in the mind of a beholder. It will be argued that philosophical concepts such as this are particularly useful in bringing forth indescribable and immeasurable qualities of human cognition that may be rediscovered through technology. As a result, invisibility within technological interactions can be understood in numerous was; technology is invisible; the body is invisible; experience is invisible; etc. Here, invisibility will be recontextualised within the ‘materialisation’ process of technological affection, within which the oscillating process between invisible and visible will be redefined as a process of ‘Transparency’.