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Protein Transition
Remco de Kluizenaar - Wageningen University & Research
About author
Editions 2021Embedded designers

June 2021 my residency as an artist at Wageningen University and Research started, recently this collaboration was extended until December 2022. Time to ask myself what my influence is and can be on the organization, by evaluating the tasks I have taken on and my working methods. The assignment in short is “outreach about protein transition”.

In July-August I presented a computer game in which you move a “pacman” to eat or avoid chicken, steak, bread, cheese, algae, insects, nuts and beans. The game is controlled with giant red buttons for left and right, spaced so far apart that two players are needed. To collaborate, discussion is needed about the aim of the game and thus about the environmental effects of animal and vegetable proteins. I deliberately presented this in a public space in Wageningen’s shopping center.

The collaboration between Municipality and WUR has been stiff at times for years. By making the university more visible inside the city i try to help building the bridge. In an upcoming project I attract interested laymen from the city (and the whole of the Netherlands) to visit the Campus, at the cities border. A GPS-triggered audio tour in Dutch, will show what research on protein transition is done behind those high windows of the Campus’ buildings.

The tour is given atmosphere, magic and content by using 3D-recordings from labs, interviews with researchers and music composed with sounds from research: bumblebees hum melodies to lupine pods’ percussion, pipette robots growl synthesizer-like loops. Protein transition touches on topics like biodiversity and climate, so in an artistic documentary it’s easy to tell a biased activist story.

However, without a story beforehand, I interviewed ten researchers from different research fields and asked them questions about what they find most valuable and joyful in their work. From that i distill “the” story. Through a competition to record sounds related to protein-research, employees provided me with raw sound material to compose my music with.

In the process, people may re-realize the value of their work due to looking with different eyes (namely ears). The effect of such interference is hardly measurable, especially at this early stage, but i am happy to know that participants are eagerly looking forward to the audio tour. The gentle effects of ‘being heard’ is what comes to my mind, which fits a sound-art project quite well.  

Overall, not one of these roles are preferred over other embedded design practices. This conceptual framework contains no value judgement, with the only purpose being an initial map of the roles of embedded designers and their ever-adaptable identities. Each position or movement through the framework requires very different competences and skills, as it should allow designers to shift their involvement, role and agency. Through this pluralism in roles, processes and professions, a new type of designer has emerged. The Embedded Designer.

More information

Protein Transition at WUR

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