About Resonance and the band CODE (some notes from Laura Popplow about her PHD-visit at CODE)

Resonance is something central in my work – both as a metaphor as well as in a very material understanding. Some would might prefer to call it feedback and I am also fine with that, but I like the image of something that could also just start to swing very softly and slightly, but could lead to a re

action maybe even at a completely different time and place. I suppose the five weeks I was fortunate enough to spend in the little CODE hut overlooking the Copenhagen harbor (there is an interesting ceiling here at CODE covered with corrugated metal which evokes that feeling) will keep resonating with me for a much longer time. But resonance is also a critical concept that reflects for me what the work of the CODE network is all about: To investigate in the possibility of doing things together, designing in context, in social-material settings by creating design interventions or experiments that create new relations, that are re-connecting the social and the material. Hartmut Rosa, a german sociologist describes resonance as a way to get out of the logic of acceleration (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCLPpU0hSUw). Resonance, in his reading, is what we experience when things are meaningful to us, or, to describe it with Bruno Latours words, when things matter to us. And that is for me pretty much, what co-design, as it is practiced and researched here at CODE, is doing: Creating things in a social and material way, that matter to us, that are meaningful to us, that resonate with us.

While being here I was also fortunate to meet others who are drawn into this field of resonance, Shana Agid for example or Brave New Alps, other visitors from other places I already met before at conferences that had a gig here at the CODE. In one of these meetings Sissel Olander talked about CODE being a band, and the CODE Lab as the place of jamming together, although everyone has other engagements in other ensembles as well. I like this metaphor, because it also goes along with the metaphor of resonance, and it pretty much felt like some pretty good jam sessions that I experienced and was part of while being here. It also does not exclude the importance of expertise in a certain area (which CODE truly represents to me) but emphasizes on the need and ability to work or jam with others, as bright and boldly stated in the CO of co-design. And it also does not exclude complexity and pressures from the world out-there, which has been quite a topic while I was guest as well: cut backs on the schools budget and the Co-Design master program being put on hold were pretty much reason for and part of the jam sessions. But I guess it is the specific ways of doing design and research here at CODE, the ability to work along with others, to engage in complex situations and to “stay with the trouble” (Haraway 2016) that is holding all the answers in these difficult times. I feel honored to have shared a part of that struggle and hope my jamming has added something that resonates.

About myself: I am a design researcher and co-design practitioner interested in critical practices. In my PhD I focus on the political potential of co-making in the context of Participatory Design and the growing discourse in Transformation Design. Working with a programmatic approach my PhD includes three experimental projects working in different, mostly urban settings with mixed stakeholder groups on topics of urban transformation: individual citizens, associations, activists, neighborhood groups, social business, city administration, local politics but also non-human actors like bikes, soil and mushrooms. Through practical interventions and reflection the question of how co-design methods and co-thinking can contribute to the participation of more diverse stakeholder groups in transformation processes is risen. Tracing the political potential in the activities of making together or what I frame as co-making, I try to contribute knowledge of how co-design could contribute to another understanding of what it means to act and think politically.



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