Exploring Speculative Methods:
Building Artifacts to Investigate Interspecies Intersubjective Subjectivity
Abstract: This article explores approaches to propagating interspecies understanding and examines the most appropriate ways to investigate the topic as a form of research. It addresses making, or Research through Design (RtD), as a more appropriate research method to generate new knowledge around interspecies embodied experience and to help audiences consider what it might be like to be a nonhuman animal than more traditional forms of scholarship. It presents a range of approaches to exploring interspecies understanding and then situates this knowledge in context with reference to a series of prototypes and design artifacts which constitute the body of work Equine Eyes. The Equine Eyes project consists of a mixed-reality headset, which uses immersive technology to help the user adopt the “point of view” of a horse. The work and the knowledge it produces is experiential in that it requires the audience to wear the headset which simulates horse-like vision to consider how tacit knowledge can be explored through making. The project adopts a RtD method to explore how speculative design artifacts, and play, can be utilised to help foster interspecies thinking and understanding and generate new speculative methods for interspecies design practice. It emphasizes the importance of developing usable speculative design artifacts that can be experienced by users to enact the speculation as an embodied experience.