Material Encounters:: Intra-actions/cuts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We see that problems in architectural design – particularly those around implicit and explicit adherence to both binary thinking and the speculative, future-oriented instrumentalist nature of spatial design – are indeed the problems which face us more broadly in the anthropocene. These problems are sediment in the design process, specifically in architectural drawing practices. Buildings are imagined through abstract thinking and the tip of a fine black line, they are drawn on tracing, or detail paper and are produced through dry descriptions. In architecture, the twin problems of binary thinking and future-oriented speculations are both about remaining in disconnectedness, in separation: the separation of subject and object (and subject and subject, object and object…) and humans and other-than-humans, and the separation of ‘now’ and ‘then’. And it is our view that the ‘problems’ of the now all result from this adherence to this disconnectedness, be it climate catastrophe, military aggressions, species extinction, or inequalities. Of course, these problems are neither ‘caused’ nor ‘healed’ by spatial design; architecture is a collaborator in complex ecologies. But its role is not insignificant, we investigate modes of engagement, of making, which resonate with the relationality and connectedness of everything, with the ‘being-with’ of co-existence (with other humans, non-humans, animals, plants, the earth, weather, etc.). This paper establishes the notion of poetic encounters as constituting phenomena – in this case, situated environments. These poetic encounters are construed as choreographic practices, as modes of engagement. Our use of the poetic draws upon its 'first cousin' poiesis, as making, as "the activity in which [...] something [is brought] into being that did not exist before." For us, this making/becoming is situated within feminist new materialist thinking and practices. The poetic also embodies the political in its inherent relationship between aesthetic form and meaning – here we will be calling upon Jacques Rancière and possible 'redistributions of the sensible' through our encounters –, meaning which is in place of prosaic meanings.
Encounter is read through various diffractive gratings, including a more distant relative of poetry, phronesis, – 'practical wisdom' used in living well –, which is, as Polkinghorne explains, a “deviant” concept [inserted by Aristotle] into the hierarchy of knowledge. Knowledge was understood to consist of facts learned from sensory experience or truths about the eternal objects. Phronesis is a different kind of knowledge: one that varies with situations, is receptive to particulars, and has a quality of improvisation.
This paper explores our making and understanding of poetic encounters through material practices, which include visual image making, geographic location data mapping, bodily engagement, LiDAR scanning processes, and various improvised means. It aims to develop methods of practice that engage with the presence of all bodies in space making and their interconnectedness with surrounding material assemblages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry
EditorsNikki Fairchild
Place of PublicationUniversity of Portsmouth
PublisherEuropean Network of Qualitative Enquiry
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781861376770
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2023
Event6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry in the Anthroprocene: Affirmative and generative possibilities for (Post) Anthropocentric futures. - University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Jan 202313 Jan 2023


Conference6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry in the Anthroprocene: Affirmative and generative possibilities for (Post) Anthropocentric futures.
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Poetic
  • Materials
  • encounter
  • drawing

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