Design History in the Anthropocene
In recent years, the complex challenge came under the debates of the Anthropocene elicits a variety of responses in different fields in the Humanities. If, as some claim, the Anthropocene obliterates the distinction between geological time (deep time) and historical time, what does the geological discourse of the Anthropocene might mean for design history? How might it affect design history’s goals, methods, and forms of periodisation? Although we cannot fully grasp the epistemological uncertainties of the Anthropocene, it establishes a critical threshold, compelling us to interrogate scales of time and space to rethink design history.
This research addresses these questions by taking electronic products as the vehicle, examining the complex entanglements of geological time and design and its histories. More specifically, it analyzes electronics through their material constitution, as well as a temporal range that is outside the established narratives of design history. By looking in particular at materials of rare earth elements which are essential for electronics, the analysis traces its life as what Jane Bennett calls vital material, from natural minerals that are sedimented for millions of years before being mined and processed to the deposition of material in the landfill.
Thinking about geological, extractive, and deposition processes require thinking about alternative temporalities that design and its histories are involved in. By proposing a ‘new materialist’ approach to the relationship between geological time and design and its histories beyond anthropocentrism, this research aims to produce new ways of navigating the interconnected trajectories of deep time and histories of design, and then new methodologies of how to unfold these large-scale processes, through connecting relevant fields like geology, geophysics, archaeology, and environmental humanities. Furthermore, it with the goal to offer a different insight to question established narratives and methods of design history.
School of Arts & Humanities
History of Design, 2020–
Previously, she has curated/co-curated exhibitions and projects at 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, London Design Festival, Stanley Picker Gallery (London), Flux Factory (New York), Milan Design Week, among many others. Her recent translation works include Wild Things: The Material Culture of Everyday Life, The Curatorial: A Philosophy of Curating, and Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism.
She is currently pursuing a PhD in V&A/RCA History of Design at Royal College of Art and divides her time between Beijing and London. Previously, she received an MA in Curating Contemporary Design (in partnership with the Design Museum London) from Kingston University London and a BA in Visual Communication from China Central Academy of Fine Arts.
- MA Curating Contemporary Design (in partnership with the Design Museum London), Kingston University London; BA Visual Communication, China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA)
- Lecturer, Curating Contemporary Design and Design Criticism & Curatorial Studies, d-School, China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA); Curator and Co-founder, MediumMedia®
- Asia Digital Art Exhibition (ADAE), Lenovo Center, Beijing, 2019; Beijing Media Art Biennale (BMAB), CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, 2018; Can Design Education Be Speculative?, 4th Istanbul Design Biennale, 2018; CDxDesign Connections, London Design Festival, 2017; CDxSPG, Stanley Picker Gallery, London, 2017; Re-code, CAFA International, Beijing, 2016; Re-juvenation, Thornwillow Institute, Newburgh, 2016; Re-exhibition, Flux Factory, New York, 2016
- Sino-British Fellowship Trust (2020–23); Sino-British Fellowship Trust (2016–17)
- Judy Attfield (Author), Naiyi Wang (Translator), Wild Things: The Material Culture of Everyday Life (Chinese edition), Phoenix Publishing & Media Group, Forthcoming; Jean-Paul Martinon (Author, Editor), Naiyi Wang (Translator), The Curatorial: A Philosophy of Curating (Chinese edition), China Pictorial Publishing House, Forthcoming; Alice Twemlow (Author), Naiyi Wang (Translator), Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism (Chinese edition), Phoenix Publishing & Media Group, Forthcoming