Rockfish, Paper, Scissors

The research trip to Porteau Cove included 3 Project Researchers, 3 DESIS faculty, 2 Graduate Research Assistants, and 2 guest Graduate Students.

Rockfish numbers are declining in the region. This research is focused on designing habitat for rockfish in local coastal regions, developing pedagogy to help designers connect with other-than-humans, and exploring collaboration with biologists.

Setting up camp in the torrential rain was an event in and of itself. We talked through the day about how getting closer to real nature involves a certain amount of discomfort.

Rockfish cards – Each participant was given a paper rockfish. These were different sizes and shapes. We were asked to personify our rockfish: what was their gender, how old did we think they were? Relating to them in this way sparked thoughts and questions, gave an intimacy to the conversation, and helped us consider the Rockfish as a live being.

(interesting fact: Rockfish can live to be over a hundred years old, and they cannot reproduce until they are about 20 years old.)

Making an offering to the Ocean – Participants were asked to consider what we could give back to the ocean, and asked to go approach the ocean and make an offering. We talked about how we don’t know what the ocean needs from us, and how perhaps attention is an important offering. For most of us, this was an individual and personal experience.

Given a palette of materials including bark, branches and rocks, we were all challenged to build a vessel that would carry rocks out into the ocean. This led naturally to collaborative projects. It brought us into greater physical contact with the ocean, and led to surprises about what would float.

We began to work with clay as a medium to design modular tessellated forms for habitat structures. The surrounding natural materials jumped into our designs, demonstrating yet again the importance of context and the intuitive nature of relational design.

“Take Perspective. Stay out of judgement. Recognize emotions in others. Communicate that you understand… (or can you?)”

A set of prompts from interaction design raised questions: can a series of questions bring us to greater awareness; is there an implied ritual in a series of reminders; how much can we ever really understand about the emotions of others?