Notes from the sea, 2218
IIT Institute of Design
Presented at PRIMER 2020 and Anticipation 2019
Featured project at BioDesign Challenge
Notes from the Sea was at PRIMER 2020!
Download the slides here.
A read-along script of the presentation is available here.
The Print and Play version of Notes from the Sea is available! This version includes a teacher's guide, game instructions, discussion questions, and all the materials you will need to play the game. Download a copy here.
"Notes from the sea, 2218," is a speculative design project created to spark imagination and inspire debate about human influences on the natural world. I worked with three other student-designers at IIT Institute of Design to present the project at the school's Designing Futures Showcase.
The team sought ways to challenge an oversimplified, anthropocentric view of the natural world. In this project, nature is presented as an active and dynamic system. Human beings, instead of being elevated or separate from nature, are one species among many. Organisms respond to environmental influences, including those created by humans, by adapting. Those organisms that are successful will thrive in an altered environment, while others will go extinct.
The team imagined several organisms as they might appear after adapting to a variety of environmental changes and developed a "field notebook" as it might be created by a future biologist. The field notebook was presented as an unfinished journal with hand sketches and notes.
A card game allowed viewers to engage in the imaginative and creative aspects of the design project. Players drew cards that prompted them to sketch the way that a new organism might respond to human influences in the ecosystem. This participatory design method helped viewers to develop their own insights and perspectives on the problems presented in the research and field journal.
Designing Futures Showcase
At the Designing Futures Showcase, participants browsed the field notebooks and played the card game before engaging in a discussion about the project. More than 60% of the audience contributed sketches using the card game. Several new questions emerged from the discussion that followed, including the moral implications of the project's narrative, the short- and long-term effects of selecting for plasticity, and the impact of anthropogenic influence on the marine ecosystem as a whole.