Approach Four: Participatory Methods
While cultural probes were considered as a method for providing insight into how the warped plastics and my storytelling process could engage participants, it was ultimately the form of participatory design workshops that proved to be most suitable. Conducting trials of these workshop designs confirmed that my particular methods of story generation—anthropomorphic, time-based, speculative, fragmented and nonhuman stories—could tangibly visualise the longevity of plastic and foster a sense of ecological responsibility in participants’ relationship to plastic. After having tested both Stories from the Afterlife and What Now? workshop designs, it is clear that both show potential and lead participants to think about the longevity of plastic in different ways. Stories from the Afterlife prompted broader stories about the deep time futures of plastic, whereas What Now? connected participants to understand how their personal disposal actions contributed to this deep time. Both workshop designs could hence be refined upon and presented as the finalisation of this experimental process and further tested with a broader group of participants to determine whether their designs are repeatable. This will be detailed further in the upcoming section Final Workshops.