Accepted Paper:

Designing energy experiments: scripting ambiguity and curiosity in a research device  


Liliana Ovalle (Goldsmiths University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reflects on the design of the ‘Energy Babble’, a research device that broadcasts internet-sourced content to UK energy communities. Developing Akrich’s notion of ‘script’, the paper explores how ambiguity was materialised to prompt ludic engagement around energy-demand reduction.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores and reflects on the design process of the 'Energy Babble' research device - an interactive and networked audio system for mediating energy-related content - focusing on the emergence of it's visual and material properties. The Energy Babble played a key methodological role in the 'Energy and Co-Designing Communities' project, an interdisciplinary engagement between STS scholars and design researchers, where it was deployed amongst a number of UK-based local energy communities to explore, understand and reframe the 'problems' and cosmopolitics associated with UK carbon reduction policy instruments. The paper highlights and reflects on the key design stages of the research device as part of the process of defining the material/visual form of the device and, by complicating Akrich's notion of 'script', the paper describes how ambiguous and playful energy scripts intermingled with the rigidity of the devices' 'technical' requirements. The paper concludes by discussing the role of material practices and aesthetic expertise in generating (or not) non-instrumental community participation with energy experiments.

Panel T098
Energy Experiments