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Claudia Westermann

Xi’an Jiaotong–Liverpool University

Second-order cybernetics conceives of human beings as agents and participants in the making of worlds, embedded in the design process. This conception of designing as a practice of living with and in a world grants it both urgency and hope.

The paper proposes that design practitioners, in the widest sense, can learn from design cybernetics when conceiving new methodologies for the post-Anthropocene era. Further, it proposes that these methodologies’ development can take advantage of comparative studies of design cybernetics and design strategies found in traditional Chinese culture. Significantly, Chinese landscape poetry and landscape painting, and, in relation to this, Chinese classical garden design, emphasise elements that are also present in cybernetics discourse: circularity, a floating observer, and the continuity of observer and environment. The paper proposes that these ideas create the necessary conditions for the development of design approaches that reconnect human beings to their environments and permit future agents to initiate change from within. It concludes with an example of a public art installation that implements these ideas.

KEYWORDS: design cybernetics, design ecologies, more-than-human, post-Anthropocene, cross-cultural discourse, Chinese gardens

Sketchnote by Patricia Kambitch | Playthink

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Citation Data

Author(s): Claudia Westermann
Year: 2022
Title: Cybernetic Musings on Open Form(s)
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 105
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/cybernetic-musings-on-open-forms
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 23 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404