Design Fiction: Thinking With Our Chemical Stories

Creative Users Projects, Ryerson University Disabilities Studies department and Bodies in Translation teamed up with artists in the disability community for a unique artistic experience in the summer of 2017. Through intensive Design Fiction workshopping over four days, we co-developed a fictional product called Painsonic. This fictional product provokes us to think about how we encounter chemicals in our everyday lives and the impact these encounters have on our embodied experience, our selves, our relations to others, and our imagined and preferred futures.

What is Design Fiction?

Design Fiction workshopping facilitates the co-production of speculative design through collaborative thinking, story-making, and design. Workshops typically combine elements of science fiction, science fact, and critical design to create prototypes that exist within ‘story worlds.’ Using ‘near future’ technologies, within a fictional narrative context, allows those who develop and interact with Design Fictions to ‘suspend disbelief about change.’ Prototypes serve as provocative entry points to generate open dialogue and raise questions, explore legal, ethical, and social debate, and form critical insights about social or policy-related problems.

What is ‘Thinking with our Chemical Stories’?

This project begins with the assertion that all people encounter chemicals – sanctioned and illicit, helpful and harmful – in diverse and complicated ways. This assertion is particularly true for disabled people who rely on prescribed and generic chemicals for everyday functioning and survival. Our chemical stories typically position disability as an undesirable outcome of our chemical lives and consequently, a site of a precarious, dangerous, imperiled, or obliterated future.

Visit the Painsonic website here