Dr. Stephen Thompson

Dr. Stephen Thompson BA Hons MA (RCA) PhD (Plym) FRSA
Department of Creative Communication,
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff,
Cardiff School of Art and Design,
Western Avenue,
CF24 0SP

Stephen researches ‘speculative-life-systems’ and is Deputy Dean / Director of Learning and Teaching of Cardiff School of Art & Design (UWIC). Stephen started his career working for a number of design consultancies in Britain and Germany before establishing his own design practice and eventually moving into a career as an academic. Formerly an industrial designer, Stephen is now more widely recognised in his field as a far-sighted and provocative thinker. He draws a wide range of academic ideas into a creative field of ‘speculative-life-systems’. His PhD thesis, (Artefacts, Technicity and Humanisation : industrial design and the problem of anoetic technologies.) extends many of the experimental ideas he has brought to design from his time at the Royal College of Art.

More practical and applied than philosophy but more creative and questioning than engineering, the study of speculative-life-systems explores how it might be possible to actually live a real life as a posthuman. Artists and designers sometimes find it difficult to converse with those who specialise in the full technicalities of philosophy or science, nevertheless speculative-life-systems is an exciting territory to occupy because it offers a glimpse of how the world might be and also helps to explain why our world doesn?t always work in a way we would like it to. A special kind of conversation is required which must test and combine ideas in a synergistic way in order to act as a kind of lamp others might follow. In the 19th Century the task was to build everyday life in a new machine age, our challenge is to find a way to live with new kinds of unbounded biotechnological possibilities. In order to do this we need to understand what is really important.

Stephen’s current project ‘semi-i-infinite’ is a series of speculative thought experiments exploring how ideas of cell signalling, bio-morphogenesis might make possible a practical and creative form of distributed consciousness.

Stephen is a co-convenor of MeAT research at UWIC, a member of the Design Enhanced Human Futures theme within the Wales Institute of Research in Art and Design. Stephen works in collaboration with the Transtechnology Research network at the University of Plymouth. At CSAD he supervises nine PhD students and teaches a speculative-life-systems approach to undergraduate and postgraduate designers.