Samantha Caruthers-Knight MFA Collaborative Design Thesis 2021
Stories in Stones: Rediscovering Physical Earth Through Observation, Inquiry and Storytelling
Geology is everywhere around us. From the ground under our feet to the products we use every day, Earth matter permeates our lives. But most people rarely think about or notice, much less consider themselves to have a relationship with, the ‘stuff’ of Earth, or Physical Earth. The need to address this disconnect is ever more urgent as we move forward into the Anthropocene age. This thesis examines geologic ontologies through a design lens, considering the barriers that prevent most people from having relationships with Physical Earth. Through a human centered participatory design process, this thesis delivers bridge objects and shared group experiences that create a more nuanced and interconnected sense of geological understanding.
Stories in Stones focuses on unknowing as an avenue to closer attention to and observation of Physical Earth. In engaging with the Rock Love kit, participants make their own observations and cultivate their ‘geology glasses’ by exploring rocks, minerals and materials that are rock-like but not rock. Rocks encode their own narratives in their materiality and appearance, and they also serve as projected vessels for human stories. By sharing these ‘rock stories,’ both real and hypothetical, Rock Love participants deepen their relationships with rocks and with one another.
Humans are now collectively acting on the scale of a geologic force, and we as individuals have a responsibility to guide the moral compass of that force. By developing individual relationships with Physical Earth using the tools and methods generated during this thesis process, we may begin to collectively create a new human-geologic paradigm: one in which humans can continue to thrive for generations to come.