Speculations on a more-than-human sensorium
spatial practice and becoming-with others
This paper challenges the notion of a human sensorium through critically reviewing the 2016 Honours project, Hydrophilous and the Observatorium, of Interior Architecture graduate Emilie Evans. Evans’ speculative design project highlights the boundless relations and encounters with which human bodies are inescapably intertwined. Her graduating design project manifests the consideration of other bodies—both living and non-living—in spatial practice and questions the authoritative role of designer as sole author of any project. Instead Evans acknowledges beings, forces and processes beyond human that we are inextricably engaged with. In reflecting on this project, we discuss perceived binaries of human and more-than-human sensoriums, and demonstrate how these conventions obscure the ways humans attempt to control nature via interiorised landscapes. Evans’ work illustrates the commingling of bodies, materialities and sensorial affects that stretch beyond the realm of a speculative student project, and which speak to tangible and immediate futures. Emerging debates about the Anthropocene have prompted key aspects of this project, as well as a desire to design for a fluctuating environment: the hyper-saline water body of Don Juan Pond in Eastern Antarctica. This review explores entangled bodies, landscapes, and sensorial experimentation, and ultimately demands a reconfigured understanding of designers working in spatial practice. As such, we posit their strength as ‘curators’, and nature as any project’s true creator, while acknowledging humans’ limited power in a world of forces primarily beyond their hitherto-assumed control. Rethinking the future(s) of spatial practice involves ‘becoming-with’ others in space and time, and privileging a more-than-human sensorium allows us to design-with a vast assemblage of beings, forces, and planetary processes.
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