skip to main content

2017 STS Making and Doing Program

Meeting Home | Making & Doing Main | Making and Doing 2017 | Category: Visual and Sensory Approaches

Biomaterial Matters: Fitting Humans into Cocoons, A Speculative Prototype

Onaga, Lisa, Nanyang Technological University


Laura Forlano, Illinois Institute of Technology, Galina Mihaleva, Nanyang Technological University; Anne McKnight, Shirayuri University

This speculative prototype in the form of a cocoon engages with research about the history of silk and silkworms in Japan around science and technology studies themes such as pasts and future(s), cosmopolitanism and regionalism, authenticity and adaptation, human and non-human, real and artificial, and gender. The prototype draws on the history of science, speculative design, multispecies ethnography and design as inquiry in order to materialize theoretical arguments and issues of concern. In particular, we seek to understand what has made raw silk, unwound from silk cocoons, into a biomaterial. Through the work of prototyping, we contest the notion that biomateriality was always already present, whereas, in fact, it has been resultant of a combination of developments in cultivation of silk, weaving, industry, and science. The silkworm’s silk is regarded as a biocompatible material and is used in silk sutures for double-eyelid plastic surgery. Since there is much discussion of the silk sutures fitting into the human body, we are interested in what it might mean to fit the human into the cocoon? What would it mean to 'try on' the cocoon, so-to-speak? Thus, the prototype is conceived of as a large (human-sized) cocoon-like garment that can be tried on. The prototype has an eye-like motif and shape in order to reference three specific research themes: the double-eyelid surgery, the false eyespot of some common silkworm strains, and the fisheye motif in the weavings of Amami-Oshima, and island in Japan. The project’s main objectives are to find ways of prototyping STS theory in physical form using speculative design methods. The outcome of the project, a collaboration between a historian, a humanities scholar, a design researcher and a fashion design, will be a physical prototype as well as a patternbook of other potential ideas for prototypes. The prototype and patternbook are intended to be displayed; a small exhibition of similar projects is planned. In addition, a traditional peer-reviewed journal article is planned. This project contributes to STS discussions about the nature of inventive methods. Specifically, how might we make STS debates that are often difficult to describe accurately in words more visible and tangible in order to contribute to theory.

  • LinkedIn

Browse 2017 Projects

Alac: STS Olfactorium

Battles: The Trial Balloon: buoyancy, embodied media, and patchy planetarity

Callahan: Rethinking Citizen Science through doing Citizen Science

Cardoso Llach: Tracing Design Ecologies

Clement: Snowden Surveillance Archive

Cohen: Toward Improving Public Policy for Struct Engrg Design of Bridge, Transport & Marine Infrastructure

Durnova: Politicizing the scientific self through media interventions

Erickson-Davis: What it is to see: a simulation of artificial vision

Gluzman: Feminist Theory Theater

Gomez-Marquez: Construction Sets for DIY Medical Technologies and their Black Box Counterparts

Hidalgo: Collaborative Research Toolkit: a copyleft resource for the co-design of research processes

Hoagland: Getting a Sense of the Place: Navigating FemTechNet’s Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Workbook

Houston: Collaborative urban sensing with the “Dustbox” air quality monitor

Howell: Emotional Interpretation & Materiality of Biosensing

Johnson: Engineering Comes Home: Co-designing local infrastructure with residents of a London housing estate

Kennedy: Doing STS at the science/policy intersection

Knopes: Integrating STS into Bioethics and Medical Humanities Programs

Lachney: Generative STEM: Circulating Unalienated Value in Education, Labor and Environment

Lawson: (T)racing Eyes and Hearts:  An Installation to Explore the Physiology of Empathy

Lehr: Undergraduate STSers Learn by Doing in the Trump Era

Lippman: Making Sensible in 360°

Michails: AirTRACS: Community-based Air Quality Monitoring

Mogul: A STS STEM Education Incubator: The Co-Making of Inquiry

Mohsin: QEERI’s Science Majlis

Murphy: Environmental Data and Governance Initiative: Engaged STS Responding to the U.S.Administration

Nafus: Data Sense

Navarro: Our Driverless Futures: Speculating Moral Dilemmas of Self-Driving Cars

Nieusma: STS Design and Innovation: Disciplinary Discomfiture

Onaga: Biomaterial Matters: Fitting Humans into Cocoons, A Speculative Prototype

Ostman: STS approaches to public engagement with science: Synthetic biology

Ostrowski: The Empirical Printing Program

Perez Comisso: Technological theory for all: Teaching experiments on STS in Chile

Rosado Murillo: Pedal Transcriba, an Ethnographic Device of (and for) Qualitative Research

Shapiro: Detoxifying the environment across temporalities

Steensen: Face-off! Platform versus Self: A photobooth experiment

Stern: Zika and Feminist STS: Building a Network, Doing Collective Scholarship

Taylor: Connecting-Probing-Reflecting Spaces: The New England Workshop on Science and Social Change (NewSSC)

Terrell: The making of an undergraduate Sociotechnical Ethics Society

Wentworth: Handholds: making sense of bodies through slaughter

Wong: Design Workbook Variations: Exploring Biosensing Privacy Futures

Wylie: Making and Doing STS with Undergraduate Engineers: The UVA Approach