Swamplab: Messiness is allowed

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Abstract
‘SWAMPLAB’ is a strong case for intuitive insights through arts, sciences, and technologies to engage the self and establish meaningful social interactions including humans and non-humans. While zigzagging through processes of privatization, globalization, ecological, economic, social and political challenges, the power of such residencies or labs stems from the interplay with the local context and its habitants, in this case, nature reserve De Zegge, a 111 hectares swamp in the Northern part of Belgium. Mediation and participation are a core condition for the design of knowledge and engagement since without informed consent and participants understanding the nature of the process, no change is possible. The more individuals express and explore their knowledge through social encounters, narratives, and dialogs, the more crucial tacit knowledge can be shared. Making things disputable is another responsibility. In society at large, there are very few examples where people feel interconnected and yet at the same time can disagree. The notion of Swamplab is rather a call for wonderment, for not using each other as a stepping stone but setting up open dialogs, listening and reflecting together, playing around, tinkering, since messiness is allowed. Including non-humans, be they wolves, moles or avatars, and virtual agents, is key to cracking the individual resistance to change understandings, opinions, and behavior. The result may lead to deeper engagement and Buckminster Fuller’s “comprehensive anticipatory design science” or what Bruno Latour calls a “progressive composition of the good common world”.

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2020

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