Can designing with an invasive species build new ecological sensibilities?
Directed by Thomas Heinrich and Larissa Zemke — supervised by BioLab director Alice Jarry — De Souche is an experimental biomaterial project that seeks to transform the invasive aquatic plant Eurasian milfoil into a material that can benefit communities affected by its spread.
A series of participatory workshops in the spring of 2021 will reinforce the material research process of this biomaterial. The series will kick-start in March with first co-creation workshop with community members from Lake Lovering (Qc), followed by a public discussion in April, and workshops oriented towards the Concordia community in May.
This methodology, intermeshing community participation material research, will serve both educational and pragmatic purposes. This framework creates a platform for participants to consider the meaning of invasive species in anthropogenic landscapes and to consider their potential for new cultural objects. Engagement with prejudiced material will encourage a paradigm shift concerning the affective quality of materials and the division between human life and the rest of the biosphere. Through a practical lens, the development of biomaterials with invasive species can make use of abundant sources of biomass to transform a negative phenomenon into a positive one for communities.
The issue of Eurasian milfoil highlights a cultural, even existential gap in the perception of our relationship to the environment. The purpose of De Souche is to consider design as a medium through which to produce a cultural shift at a local scale, reinforced by institutional collaboration.
De Souche is supported by the Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) and the Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA).
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