Domestic Hub Conversation #3 Dwelling-with

2018-10-17 07.06.07

Dwelling With

 

Maximum of 6 participants

Proposed date: tba within 10 – 20 October

Dwelling as one of many actants of the domestic biome – soil, water, building materials, solar energy, wind/ air CO2, oxygen, biota, plants, animals (pets, humans, pests), consumer goods, food and fossil fuels ‘in’, waste ‘out’.

Might we usefully open our dwelling spaces to become more inclusive of the entities around us? Could we imagine a future where cross-species dwelling-with is designed into our houses and civic buildings?

While the term home has connotations of cohabitation, inclusiveness and nurturing, house has more austere connotations demarking an inside for human dwelling and an outside for all other entities. The permeability of the house is strictly monitored; there are clearly defined orifices for the entry of entities, energies, goods and resources. There are equally well-defined orifices for departure, the multifunction entry/exit for inhabitants (human, companion and machine) are supplemented by multiple exits to ‘away’ for entities no longer required, which exit discreetly as ‘waste’.

this basic function of ‘house’ is indicative of our normal conception of ‘dwelling’ as a deliberate and thorough separation of space for human activity from the ‘natural world’ (which is tellingly referred to as outdoors). At its most basic, this is the function of securing a safe place for human flourishing and is common to a cave, a hut, a shack, a shed, a house, a hotel. But at what point might we consider that we have moved from safe to isolated, from comfortable distance from to complete subjugation of?

Might we usefully open our dwelling spaces to become more inclusive of the entities around us? Could we imagine a future where cross-species dwelling-with is designed into our houses and civic buildings?

The big wake-up call of the Anthropocene is the reminder that we are not separate from nature, Earth is not an infinite resource for our progress, and there is no away. Like all mammals, we are made up of a plethora of entities; bacteria, microorganisms, viruses and inherited DNA. Like all mammals we are permeable; food, water, oxygen, oils and chemicals move continually between our environments and our bodies.

In addition to this I suggest that that despite sectioning ourselves off into a human enclave we still desire connection with others, and this desire emerges as accultured nature; we keep pets, we value views out across the land and sea, we cultivate gardens. It emerges as vicarious care, we watch nature documentaries and YouTube videos of funny cats and heart rendering animal rescues. How might we, speculatively or pragmatically, reimaging dwelling as continuous with this complex web of biota?