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Martin Avila

Artefact-Accident/Hospitality-Hostility:
Paradoxes as agents of interaction in the production of knowledge in design practice

This project questions the notion of user-friendliness and transparency (i.e. the so-called ‘Human Factors’ approach) as being absolute and seeks, in its place, to articulate the paradoxical in design - something which is implicit in all artificial manifestations. Design deals with the artificial, re-configures our environment by introducing new artefacts and produces new knowledge in the process.

The introduction of anything new imposes a reorganisation that may subtly change our perception of, and relation to the world. This process often involves paradoxes: e.g. by creating a car, we are not only creating the possibility of moving from one place to another, but we are also, simultaneously, creating the car accident.

The distinction between the known (the expected) and the unknown (the unexpected) not only separates an incident from an accident, but also distinguishes hospitality from hostility in that the perception of hospitality is dependent on a transgression of the ‘pact’ of hospitality – a process that engages us beyond the expected, and thereby re-configures the known.

This project aims:
a) to explore the dynamics, tensions and transitions between different states of a given artefact or set of artefacts, and, in order to understand the capacity of the artefact(s) to trigger particular kinds of human behaviour in time, we aim to look into their material properties and context, relating our findings to the emerging field of experience design; and
b) to articulate the paradoxes hospitality-hostility and artefact-accident in order to enable the further development of theoretical models for understanding complex situations in the refinement of design practices – where the process of knowledge production remains, to a large extent, undefined.

Contact: Martin Avila

Page Manager: Anna Frisk|Last update: 1/8/2009
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