Alterplinarity – ‘Alternative Disciplinarity’ in Future Art and Design Research Pursuits

Paul Rodgers, Craig Bremner

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Contemporary design is typified by fluid, evolving patterns of practice that regularly traverse, transcend and transfigure historical disciplinary and conceptual boundaries. This mutability means that design research, education, and practice is constantly shifting, creating, contesting and negotiating new terrains of opportunities and re-shaping the boundaries of the discipline. This paper proposes that this is because globalisation and the proliferation of the digital has resulted in connections that are no longer “amid”, cannot be measured “across”, nor encompass a “whole” system, which has generated an “other” dimension (Bourriaud, 2009), an “alternative disciplinarity” - an “alterplinarity”. As the fragmentation of distinct disciplines has shifted creative practice from being “discipline-based” to “issue- or project-based” (Heppell, 2006), we present the argument that the researcher, who purposely blurs distinctions and has dumped methods from being “discipline-based” to “issue- or project-based”, will be best placed to make connections that generate new ways to identify “other” dimensions of design research, activity and thought that is needed for the complex, interdependent issues we now face. We present the case that reliance on the historic disciplines of design as the boundaries of our understanding has been superseded by a boundless space/time that we call “alterplinarity”. The digital has modified the models of design thought and action, and as a result research and practice should transform from a convention domesticated by the academy to a reaction to globalisation that is yet to be disciplined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalStudies in Material Thinking
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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