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Material Incubator

Powered by Caradt, MNEXT and Delft University of Technology

Situated Scenarios & Immersive Storytelling in the Lab

A Caradt SAD Research Project

Project Leader(s):

Sarah Lugthart – PhD Researcher / Teacher at the MIVC Master of Animation

Research Professor(s):

Dr. Michel van DartelResearch Professor Situated Art and Design

Principle Investigator(s):

Hazal Ertürkan – Researcher at TU Delft Industrial Design Engineering

Xandra van der Eijk – Researcher / Teacher at MIVC Ecology Futures
Ollie Palmer – Researcher / Teacher at MIVC Parallel Worlds

Project Period

From September 2016 – ongoing

Research Group Situated Art and Design (SAD)

Living in cities developed around data and acting within the inscrutable structure of our techno-society demands art and design that can help understand how we relate to these rapidly changing surroundings and to reflect on that relationship. The research group Situated Art and Design responds to this exigency by fostering a situated turn in art and design through a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research projects in partnership with academic and cultural partners, as well as with government and industry.


What (immersive) stories can be told in collaboration with living materials? In what ways can immersive storytelling explore and advance human collaborations with different living organisms (such as algae, fungi, bacteria, and plants) in experiments to co-create living materials and artefacts? How can immersive storytelling enable a necessary shift and expansion of perspectives  towards these different more-than-human worlds?

Situated Scenarios & Immersive Storytelling in the Lab fosters experimental, speculative, and immersive storytelling, to enable an expansion in perception and perspectives. To support this shift in the perspectives of design students, designers, and their different audiences, the research explores more-than-human centred design methods. The project seeks to enable radical re-imagining towards futures that thrive.

Speculative storytelling, says Natsai Chieza in her TED talk “Possible Futures from the Intersection of Nature, Tech and Society,” can help to envision these possible futures, through systemic biological design approaches “based on values that centre flourishing, caretaking, and equity.” We need other kinds of stories, and different kinds of storytellers (Haraway, 2016). And as Chieza and Ginsberg explain in the Journal of Design & Science (JoDS, 2018): “Design, art, and fiction can provide other ways of thinking to help us to reimagine the world.”

Storytelling within the domain of biobased product design is a relevant and relatively new research area. The power of storytelling can, for example, be used to explain the science behind living materials to a broader (lay) public. Nodding to the notion of needing different kinds of storytellers, telling these stories in collaboration with living organisms is the exciting terrain this research engages. Through workshops in different (lab) environments, these concerns are explored with diverse groups of both professional designers and design students. A range of experimental narratives from poems to performative scenarios are created, exploring more-than-human perspectives, such as that of slime moulds. These processes give rise to poignant discussions concerning ethical questions – e.g. how to work with living materials without exploiting them – and the challenges of doing justice to the perspectives of different lifeforms, and their radically different ways of knowing.