Radical Uncertainty – Response Rachel Wilson

 Rachel Wilson

In response to the Radical Uncertainty Webinar, Rachel created a piece of audio. Please see Rachel’s written response below the audio file.


In the introduction to Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, the authors suggest that “Perhaps counterintuitively, slowing down to listen to the world – empirically and imaginatively at the same time – seems our only hope in a moment of crisis and urgency”.1 This reflects the smaller, more personal moments that seemed to stand out the most to me throughout the discussion at the ‘Radical Uncertainty: Design Beyond Solutionism’ event. I have found myself especially intrigued by the essence of the space between. As a result, a few questions arose:

How do I portray slowness in urgency? How do we find stillness in chaos? How can I represent both states as a blurred amalgamation that is both jarring and of comfort, all at once?

Circling between the familiar and sustained notes of C and F, exploring harmonies that both blend and jar the ear, the purpose of this audio response is to not entirely know what is happening. The transitions are disjointed, not equally blended one into the next. Timings are slightly off – new elements do not appear when one might traditionally expect. Spoken words are scattered, some words are occasionally audible but mostly a chaotic reverberation – a cacophony of voices. The audio as a whole is unclear, a challenge to our clinically trained modern ears. The dynamics follow a triangle shape, almost as an inhale and an exhale amidst the chaos and urgency. It is within this breath cycle that we “stay with the trouble”,2 to borrow from Haraway – that we stay with the uncertainty. The intention is to feel a gradual increase and subsequent unraveling of the audible chaos, without being entirely sure where it began and where it ends. I think this is best reflected by Claudia’s comment at the event that “at some point you are one, but you don’t remain one – there is always this kind of falling out again and then seeing again”.

1 Anna Tsing et al, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 8.

2 Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, (North Carolina, United States: Duke University Press, 2016), 20.

3 Claudia Westermann, “Radical Uncertainty: Design Beyond Solutionism” (University of Brighton, July 23, 2021).


 Rachel Wilson

Rachel’s work operates across disciplines, primarily focused at the intersections of sound studies, speculative design and sustainability discourses. She is currently studying MA Sustainable Design at the University of Brighton.


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