This time your 24 eyes look inwards
Parallax as a Design Research Practice between Speculative Historiography and Experimental Digital Fabrication
Lecture @ SensiLab Forum Monash University Melbourne

This talk uses the notion of parallax to discuss some recent works from the design research practice of Thomas Pearce. Parallax, the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, is fundamental to the geometrical reconstruction of three-dimensional spatial positions from two-dimensional information and lies at the basis of technologies like photogrammetry. Moving beyond this metrological meaning, the work proposes an expanded, generative notion of parallax that accommodates and generates multiplicity, thereby challenging the imperatives of homogenous categorisation in current (digital) design practice.

The method is developed through a series of projects oscillating between speculative historical enquiry and experimental technological design practice. Through the description of these projects, ranging from the photogrammetric reconstruction of a long-destroyed unphotographable tailor shop to the fabrication of a prototype for an inhabitable mobile amphibious sculpture, the parallactic method unfolds simultaneously as a mode of observation and creative invention: following parallactic shifts between the heterogeneous points of view of historical interlocutors, technological agents (the projects use digital fabrication, scripting, 3D scanning and robotics) and further ‘others’, heterogeneous design artefacts are created that hold the capacity for an ongoing multiplicity of interpretation and open-ended re-invention.

The talk also introduces a theoretical framework for this entanglement of parallactic knowing and making by referring to poststructuralist philosophy (in particular Karen Barad’s writings on quantum theory) and questioning the very separability of historiography and design practice, capture and fabrication, instead describing design research as a mutually implicated onto-epistemological practice.