Critical Design Cycle: summary of First Participative Workshop about Internal Contamination

Last Friday (March 1, 2013) at the Mandarina Space, we had our first participatory workshop to give shape to the participants’ ideas about Internal Contamination. As you know, this topic was presented by Dr. Miquel Porta (18/01/2013), an internationally recognized researcher and an expert on the field and after his presentation a first debate took place. The goal of friday’s session was to begin a process of critical and speculative design around the concepts and ideas that popped up during that talk.

The workshop, led by Ramon Sagüensa (La Mandarina de Newton), began with an inspiration exercise for the participants. We challenged each of them individually to complete the question ‘What if …?’ with ideas, questions or concerns that came to their minds, related with the topic Internal Contamination. They had to reflect on the positive and negative aspects of it. In just 10 minutes many ideas were generated: What if we changed our lifestyle (if we stop eating meat, if we abandon the urban lifestyle), What if we could measure in detail our internal contamination levels, or the levels of toxics in the products we consume?, What if we could eliminate the toxics of our body, if we could recycle or metabolize them?, What would happen if there existed a region in the world without contamination?, What if contamination were something good for our health, if it could expand our live expectancy? What if internal contamination levels were visible? … and much more!

   

This individual exercise was the starting point for the actual teamwork. Now, participants discussed together these ideas and the dilemmas created by their interplay. For that, they stuck the post-its on a panel and, with the participation of all, reorganized them by topics or concepts. Eventually, an agreement was reached and several clusters of ideas emerge: food, communication and information, utopia, methodology, and disposal of PTCs (persistent toxic compounds). From here, each participant chose the topic that found most interesting and in this way the working groups were formed (four in total).

Then, we started the ideation phase. In each group, participants discussed and identified the ideas they wanted to explore. With the working ideas defined, the participants began to give shape to their proposals and build their ‘prototypes’.

   

The first group, who had chosen the topic ‘Food’, devised ‘The BNQ – The Body Whitening’. They proposed a treatment to ‘withen’ the body internally. With an amazing pill one would be able to clean the body from internal contaminants and this would be reflected in one’s outward beauty: ‘Clean on the inside, beautiful on the outside’.

The second group, based on the topic ‘utopia’, proposed a comics/animation campaign – ‘PTCs Superpowers’ – in which the stories would revolve around a family of characters who had superpowers due to the accumulation of PTCs in their bodies. The third group, who chose the theme ‘elimination of PTCs’ created ‘Sintox’: a set of pills developed by a pharmaceutical company (‘Mandarinartis’) and marketed to a fairly high cost, but that would be able to eliminate completely all your internal toxics. Finally, the fourth group, inspired by the topics ‘information and communication’ and ‘methodology’, proposed a next generation device, the ‘Anxiety Machine’. This product would be comprised of a pill with a PTCs’ sensor that you would swallow. Travelling through your body it would detect your internal levels of PTCs and transmit that information to a square-shaped personal and portable device.

This device would then show the toxic results, identify the most likely diseases that one would develop as a consequence of the level and type of contamination, and it would also offer an option to share the results within a social network (a kind of facebook with the contaminants’ profile of each user).

During the presentation of the proposals, there was also an interesting exchange of ideas and suggestions between the groups. It was Friday evening and dinner time was approaching, so we had to end up the session. Once again, we received a very positive feedback from participants, an extra motivation for us to continue organizing these kind of brainstorming, creative and multidisciplinary co-creation sessions.

This was the first workshop within the Critical Design Cycle about Internal Contamination. We will continue working on these proposals on the 5th of April (Friday), 19:30 at the Mandarina Space (as always, we will create a registration form on Evenbrite). Remember that these sessions are free and open to all of you willing to participate. And not just for those that came to the previous sessions, but to anyone interested and eager to share their ideas in a co-creative way.

We will keep you informed!

Remember that you can check the summaries of the past sessions of the cycle in our blog and the presentations’ videos in our Youtube channel.

You can also find all the photos of the workshop in our Facebook page.

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