TRACING 

AFTERLIVES

A collection of design-based inquiries centred
around generating stories about the longevity
and persistence of plastic.
A collection of design-based inquiries centred around generating narratives about the longevity and persistence of plastic.
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This website documents the cumulative efforts of a Master of Design (Research) inquiry undertaken at the University of Technology Sydney. This was conducted by Megan Wong, and supervised by Dr Sara Oscar and Dr Zoë Sadokierski between 2019–2021. This research was supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program.

This inquiry explores how to inspire ecological concern around plastic in others, and how one might go about this as a designer specifically. The experiments and thinking documented on this site are attempts over this 2 year period to explore, identify and highlight potential storytelling methods designers might use for facilitating conversation and creating change in consumers.

These experiments are documented in a contextual portfolio format (Sadokierski, 2019) to demonstrate how storytelling methods were identified and generated through a design-based and reflective methodology. And while this research initially aimed to highlight one strategy that could be developed to create change, a look at these experiments revealed that it was the accumulative process of making, thinking and experimenting that ultimately inspired the greatest insights and shifts in perspective. This research hence presents the collective efforts of these experiments as the final outcome of this inquiry. 

Using warped plastics collected from the Great Barrier Reef by ocean clean-up organisation Eco Barge Clean Seas, the following experiments present these waste plastics as evidence that plastic persists even after disposal, and as a way to highlight their indisposable nature. It draws on the arguments of theorists Jane Bennett, Claire Colebrook and Anna Tsing to generate nonhuman stories about these plastics—of their afterlives and how they exist outside of humans—in order to de-centre humans as the centre of reality and open up considerations of a world larger than humans. This seeks to stimulate ethical concern about the wider effects of plastic consumption on the world.

These experiments are presented in four different categories, based on approach. Click on an approach to explore the experiments undertaken in this research

Approach One

Photographic Stories

Approach Two

Material Experiments

Approach Three

Speculative Stories

Approach Four

Participatory Methods