Wed. 1:45 – 2:15 pm: collaboration with environments: decolonial bioplastics cookbook Launch

Dr Miranda Smitheram, Assistant Professor of Material Futures, Dept of Design and Computation Arts. With research and design by Sita Singh, Juan Esteban Mejia Gomez, and Catherine Vien-Bachand

Sustainability is a multispecies matter. Through an introduction to centering deep and reciprocal collaboration with environments and multispecies within research-creation, we will examine what it means to design-with and become-with through art, making, and creative encounters with ecosystems. Reciprocity is central to all the examples we will look at, a principle of deep engagement with the environment, through critically decentering from an anthropocentric perspective. This discussion also introduces a bioplastics cookbook, a research project to design bio-composite materials in collaboration with invasive plant species in and around the unceded Indigenous territories of Tiohtiá:ke/Montreal. The project centres slow design processes, and responds to deep engagements of attending to, observing, sensing, noticing and witnessing weeds and their relationships. Through these actions of ‘getting to know you’, we consider the origins of these invasive plants, the colonizing politics of their presence, their socio-cultural histories, behaviors, properties, relatives and entanglements. This design research examines the kinship of weeds, and the potential for reframing historically problematic plants into future materials. 

About Dr. Miranda Smitheram

Dr Miranda Smitheram (Ngāi Tahu, Swedish, Irish, Scottish) is a design researcher, artist and educator from Aotearoa/New Zealand. Based in the department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia, Miranda’s research focuses on decolonial design approaches through unravelling ontologies, kinship and material potentiality of invasive plant species. Miranda’s creative practice is tactile and embodied, and incorporates ancestral and contemporary methods to work with socio-cultural matter and nonhuman collaborators. Through research-creation she develops biocomposite textiles, structural forms and materials that engage with sustainable and relational futures.