Genealogy inquiry

Having to find a design inquiry to explore for a month forced me to look into the topics that stands out to me. I started mapping out all the elements that I care for.

Through this map, I could connect my different interests and identify areas within them. The Brain part is what I am logically interested in, the Senses part is what I sensitively go toward intuitively, and lastly, Ivresse, which could be described as what drives me to represent the places in which I always end up working, the kind of topics that I’ve kept on exploring and that keeps on exciting me. I have also added a few references to the designer that connect to my practice or had an impact on it.

This map led me to write down a few areas of inquiry and the first questions that came to my mind.

>How could we really apply values of equity and justice? >How could we particularise and localize a global world? >Could design ground our multiplicities and connect us to the natural and social ecosystems that we are blindly part of? >How could design catalyze our multiplicities? >How could I redesign policy-making and ground them in a relevant social and environmental context? >Could I start by exploring my own plural and disconnected roots? >Could I play with speculative narratives, participation, and systemic design?

How could design question the future of a super-plural world, looking into its policy-making and individualities?

Fairness and justice

From this question, I started my exploration by wondering: where does this need for fairness and justice come from? Those values are very important as a lot of my previous designs and life actions have been driven by them.

This design Blooming Democracy started from an inquiry into democracy that led me to realize that institutional democracy is not the rule of the people but the rule of some people. It is directly linked to the question of how justice and fairness can be applied in our societies.

Who was I?

To understand these personal values I decided to dive into my own stories, starting with my past. I collected already made research on my genealogy and tried to recall the family stories that I had heard. Stories about last names, origins, actions, and communities.

I won’t display my family tree or those stories online, but they were shared during the classes and I can email them if needed. (note for Cameron)

Through the study of this family tree, I was able to identify patterns that were repeated for centuries. To sum it up I come from a highly-educated men-led family and unknown women with strong Jewish attachments and beliefs. I could also identify that the pattern broke in the 50s. Did it break because of the political context? WW2, revolutions and Nazism? Did it break because of societal values? Is it simply closer to me so the pattern is not visible yet?

What are my worlds? My pasts? My presents? My futures? Who am I in the middle of that?

To connect to get closer to my present I looked through visual family archives. They did not teach much more than what I knew but they abled me to reconnect to the places in which I grew up. Seeing the walls of my family house full of my mom’s art, and seeing how playful and devoted my parents were to my well-being and joy in growing up helped me connect to them and my short past. I could also observe that I was very bossy growing up and was very independent and tenacious, knowing exactly what I wanted from a very young age.

To go to an almost present past I’ve reflected on my current state of being in Vancouver, Canada a place and country that has a loaded political, social, and historical context of the lands and people. Here I have heard about unsettled territories for the first time and also about the stories, of the colonial past (and present) of the lands. Being from a Jewish family in which the relation to the land has been broken over and over again has pushed me toward connecting back to those roots, even though I am as far as I’ve ever been from it. It has created spaces for me to wonder: How as a Jewish person, forced out of places for centuries can I be connected to a place, and feel like I belong? In the context of the super-plural world is it of importance? Is my unrootedness a force that I should explore?

How is the past seen and used?

Besides those personal explorations, I have been looking into works that have been addressing the past with storytelling.

What are the stories from the past that I could bring into the future?

From that, I wondered how to bring my learnings into an interesting format. I wondered who would be my original ancestors. Using the data I had collected I tried to expand my family tree and focused on four main archetypes that could inform where I come from. I have tried to nuance them by having two positive and two negative archetypes. Each of these archetypes is linked to one of my grandparents.

Trying to link the knowledge of the past to a potential future I was interested in who could be my final descendant. It was a very easy and natural descendant to come up with, and through using the understanding of my family patterns and the way I see myself she ended up being quite similar to the person I am.

Generalizing this exercise

From my exploration, I wanted to invite others to go through the same process. I wanted to collect those archetypes relating to futures and pasts. I created a booklet to do that. The booklet was riso printed in a dark purple.

I could collect booklets from five people, which allowed me to have a collection of 20 more ancestors and five descendants. For the good and bad ancestors, there was a common topic of who are the people they connect with and who are the ones they don’t. Most of them didn’t dare to push the archetypes or stayed in very close territories not that speculative or imaginative. Also, the bad ancestors were, to my own belief of what bad is, quite nice. For the descendants, I only collected mostly positive beings that are resourceful. There was a rejection of the ‘bad’ ancestors and a projection of an ideal self.

The booklets were a good way to start but it could be pushed, and this self-reflection could happen in a workshop context, and I could push that idea of archetypes to help participants build strong and deep characters.

Some people also gave me feedback that it was a good way to make peace with personal family stories and find an understanding of them.

Where to go from there?

I would like to pursue by exploring policy-making in relation to the past, the present, the future, and maybe confront it to the archetypes I am collecting. I am also very interested in this idea of utopia that is explored in the above quote from Utopia rediscovered: A redefinition of utopianism in the light of the enclosures of the Commons by Lieven de Cauter.

I will leave this idea of speculative genealogy on the side for now. But I might come back to my archetypes or use a similar process to play with policies.