Critical Use.


09 Nov Critical Use.

Critical Design.

Critical Making.

Critical Use?


Critical use is mediated.

Critical use is applied.

Critical use is an act of appropriation.

Critical USE drives content and insight.

It spins of new: systems, ideas, solutions, rigor sets, affinities.

Critical use gets us past the blocking points.

Critical use is risky it asks us to engage in new ways.

It makes use of quasi-disruptive forms.

It draws on embodied experience.

It is situational but not positivist.

Phenomenology plays a role.

Through USE things adjust. New modes are generated.

Use is not stable/static.

It is dynamic –


It is giving.


I noticed something the other day. About the work we are doing on the cloTHING(s) as conversation project and the emergent research discussions and design outcomes that are occurring/appearing on the periphery. Provocative possibilities pointing to Critical Use are at play. At Emily Carr there is a significant contingent of individuals seeking to re-think the status quo. This is driven by a common set of values that hold: that the connections we have with people, the environment and the artifacts around us are meaningful and significant; that consumptive tendencies in contemporary western society set up an unhealthy disconnect; that our presumed relations with waste and care need significant re-adjustment.

Shifts require shocks of sorts. Many of us apply strategies from Critical Design, and Critical Making in order to sort through, proffer up, and attempt to condition new outcomes and relations, or more radically – afford paradigm change. Yet this does not quite satisfy. For those of us working with clothing, there is a complimentary discourse that has come to us through the work of Kate Fletcher on the Local Wisdom project and by extension the articulation of Craft of Use practices. At Emily Carr, in the cloTHING(s) as conversation project, we are considering use and craft of use – identifying, applying and amplifying insights from our own individual and group mediated experiences.

use and situation: we are seeking (not quite the empathy study)

In Summer 2015 three individuals (including myself) wore our plus (+) template for an extended time (anywhere from 7 to 38 consecutive days). The experience was provocative. It placed us in positions that had us rethinking our use and involvement with clothing, the spaces we inhabit and the people, animals we interact with. As a quasi-disruptive form the (+) plus allowed us a critical platform – a place to deposit and reposition our biases and experiences towards clothing. The (+) plus is a designed artifact. It is made. But most importantly it is used and in/ through its use (over an extended period of time) concentration is shifted away from assumed stances. We began to consider our experience with clothing as more than the constructed sites of articulation that we usually afford ourselves – you, me, that beautiful object. The pedestal, the role of provocateur, the performer setting out a statement for confirmation or debate (black / white, yes/ no)… was resituated. Our assumptions were thrown back at us – reconstituted by applied use.

beyond commentary and reflection

cloTHING(s) as conversation is but one among many. At Emily Carr interventions intended to dislodge are abound. They are used to trigger new discussions, outcomes, means of getting at the tacit, implicit, implied. I think we (and our colleagues /peers and students) are doing something particular that is tied to the critical (and strategic). We are reconstituting Use as a creative entity for questioning: Critical Use.

last thought – Critical Use is a process ontology?