Conversations with the sub-physical: Exploring human constructions of existential meaning in interactions with designed objects

Tuesday 26/01/2010 1:00pm-2:00pm
Location: Brunel Design, Tower A, TA049
Speaker: Dr Ian Coxon, University of Western Sydney, Australia

Hermeneutical phenomenology has previously been shown to be helpful in understanding meta-physical (non-physiological) aspects of human experience for designing purposes. Whether this proposition is accepted or not, it also raises questions about the possible usefulness of an existentially oriented phenomenology in interpreting the meaningfulness of human experience from a more physical (physiological and perceptual) direction. The thesis raised in exploring this line of thinking is that Existential and Hermeneutical understandings of a lived experience are a sympathetic partnership that may offer (in design terms) two halves of a deeper understanding; one that through artful re-combination, could reasonably lead to new avenues of truly human centred design. Research projects exploring these themes have so far focused on the value gained from understanding the meta-physical component of an experience.

This seminar will be directed towards the potential for interweaving these understandings with an existential insight that may have been partially overlooked. By addressing this we have the possibility of not only gaining interesting new existential perspectives of the event but a philosophical elegance is suggested. Re-combining this sub-physical layer with a meta-physical layer of understanding would facilitate a more holistic form of designing that has been taken directly from everyday lived experience.

A short background to this project will be presented along with the outcomes of initial approaches and ideas for further development. The seminar is presented as a work-in-progress and invites vigorous feedback during an extended discussion period. As there are many disparate fields of expertise within the HCDI community, this topic should provide a stimulating and rewarding cross-disciplinary discussion.