In my current practice-led research, I am developing a method of ‘visiting’ objects through exploring everyday use as an encounter.
I borrow the term ‘visiting’ from Donna Haraway’s description of Vinciane Despret’s approach in her ethological work, in which she looks at how we can ask questions in a way that allows us to think-with other humans and animals. Applying this to our relation with objects and reading this attunement through the lens of the Heideggerian encounter, opens up a process of noticing our daily gestures of use as capable of producing expanded ontological and epistemological possibilities. This involves unpicking the implied hierarchy in daily use of objects, in which one thing/body is purposed to serve another, and a stepping sideways from what Ahmed terms “instrumental rationality” and from anthropocentricity. This also readdesses the notion of use-value, in the Marxist sense, as based on the fulfilment of human need.
This is not solely an intellectual exercise, but a daily practice created through our everyday actions within our shared spaces. I propose that it is through the daily acts of use that we can reform, permeably, our habitual ways of being, and with that, the directions of our “thought, feeling and judgement” (Ahmed, 2010, 246) to discover new more collaborative, compassionate, empathetic ways of approaching those around us – extending to plants, animals and other humans.
It is through our ability to embrace the encounter, that we can intra-actively invent what one another can be/become and create space for emergent knowledge intra-dependently co-thought and put into action. A multidimensional visiting practice that becomes an opening of wormholes through lived histories, possible presents and emerging, unpredictable futures.
After all, as Despret puts it, “do we prefer living with predictable sheep or with sheep that surprise us?” (2005, 367).
VIDEO – CUP