Critical indirectness as a design approach in participatory practice: Spatialities of multivocal estrangement in three engagements with public cultural institutions around participatory projects in Gothenburg
Doctoral thesis, 2019
Contributing across the domains of open transdisciplinary inquiry and transdisciplinary- and practice-oriented architectural and urbanism research engaging critically with participation in urban contexts, this research proposes critical indirectness as a multivocal design approach in participatory practice, developed through conceptual-analytical inquiry into three cases involving engagements between external art and design practitioners and public cultural institutions around participatory projects in Gothenburg.
It joins with calls for art and design practitioners' greater engagement with public sector institutions as way of working towards a more durable and wider impact, with calls to model a more de-centered 'urban-combinatory' practice on the plurality, hybridity, discontinuities, and contingencies of the contemporary city, and with calls for more multiple, contradictory approaches. Its methodological approach, open transdisciplinary turn-taking, likewise pursued these aims via alternating engagements between institutional and external actors, my own and others' practices, and theory from multiple fields.
The primary aim is to explore how art and design practitioners (including researchers and institutional actors) can develop greater capacity to critically wayfind within the complexities of engagements with public cultural institutions in and around participatory processes. This is supported by two interrelated inquiries, the first reworks monovocal understandings of participation, critique, institutions, and actors as multivocal—simultaneously collective, complex, and involving actors' critical and creative trajectories of agency. The second conceptualizes multivocal relations as having their own critical efficacy through potentially estranging effects, which can be both reflexively perceived by practitioners and furthered by design. These two inquiries combine in the use, in case analyses, of alternating voices, transversing voices, and wavering voices—conceptual-analytical lenses enabling focus on the critical and creative potentials of spatialities of multivocal estrangement generated by differential interrelations between 'voices'.
multivocal design approach
transdisciplinary architectural research
critical spatial practice