Insecture: interdisciplinary engagements in an emergent entomological design practice by Christopher Kaltenbach

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This practice-based research defines an emergent, interdisciplinary practice with the central aim of reframing the insect through design. The research began as an exploration into how to use design to create a different appreciation of insects through an understanding of how we perceive them and manage our proximity to them. Subsequently, through an investigatory process of reflection, a deeper knowledge of design and how I design, reframed by these biological entities, has been unveiled. Two insights have emerged: firstly, knowledge of the proclivities imbued in my work; and secondly, the ways in which the integration of insects can draw out multimodal design outcomes.

During the period of this research, projects were designed with and for insects: emblems, a shop concept, a habitat structure, and products including a viewing apparatus and insect terrarium. These key projects created aesthetic approaches to the framing of and interaction with these animals. Design consideration of the commercial industry applications of insects bioengineering, food production, and pet breeding has presented another approach to sustainability. I have defined this insect-based strategy to designing as Design Applied Environmental Entomology.

While the design work was produced in Australia, Canada and Japan, it was the Japanese context that influenced the development of investigatory strategies. In particular, the orientation on Japan provided significant historical and contemporary precedents on the role insects can have in society.

In all, the design processes and methodologies that were developed in this PhD have examined the use of insects as a vehicle for design ideation and practice. By integrating living insects into concepts, processes and prototypes, the research offers models for different forms of design interactivity, offering opportunities within the public milieu to demonstrate enthusiasm, care, and value for these animals. This work, ultimately, advances design’s potency to elevate attentiveness to those things biologically small and overlooked.


Examiners: William Myers, Dr Janine Randerson Supervisors: Prof Sand Helsel, Prof Michael Trudgeon

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