Being and Dying

Being and Dying is a design studio that investigates current approaches to health, using experimental design to instigate change at the personal, social and cultural level. We design, build and promote better ways to live and die.


"Being, Dying and the future of design" at the Strelka Institute, Moscow


Ivor Williams from design research group Being and Dying, explores the role design can have in improving the relationship between a healthy life and a good death: from permadeath to contemplative technologies; bio-hacking to holistic healthcare.


The lecture forms part of the Strelka Institute’s research year programme focused on urban routines.

20:00 on 18 August 2014

Details of the lecture at the Strelka Institute website

Unfortunately due to visa issues, the lecture was postponed.

Can videogames be a spiritual experience?

The year is 2040 and it has been two decades since the American economy tanked. North America is a sprawling mega-slum and the population of the West is viewed as a massive, cheap labour force for China and India. This is the setup for Ghosts With Shit Jobs, Canadian author Jim Munroe’s self-described “lo-fi sci-fi” meditation on labour and everyday life in a dreary future Toronto. Filmed as a pseudo-documentary, a Chinese news show sends reporters to the West to gain insight in to the daily grind and perspective of ‘ghosts’ (Cantonese slang for indigenous North Americans) and portrays a selection of these low-level workers as they struggle to make ends meet. These protagonistshave taken on jobs nobody else wants—robotic toy construction, spider silk foraging, online copyright protection, conversational product-placement—and employment is the lens through which the economy and everyday life are inspected. Doesn’t exactly sound like traditional science fiction fare does it? Well, Ghosts With Shit Jobsis immensely successful as speculative fiction because rather than overwhelm the viewer with CGI setpieces and genre clichés it provides a nuanced, character-driven plot that is chock-full of insight on technology and culture. The super-smart script shines and is delivered as kind of a future vérité that is so blasé about the world it constructs that the viewer has no choice but to be drawn into the headspace of each of the main characters.


Brookvale CAMHS has created a new free self-help app called BASE that has been designed to help young people manage their stress, anxiety and depression. The app allows you to write diary entries which help you keep track of when your stress and anxiety might be at its best or worst. This will help you understand how to manage your emotions.

The app also provides handy tips on how to calm down and relax. It even produces entry reports which shows the emotions you feel the most. The app logs this data into a 7 day graph so you can see how much your mood changes over a week! BASE is used to help you note down your feelings so you can understand when your stress and anxiety is at its worse, instead of relying on memory.

BASE via the App store

Animated, synchronised version of Rainer Wehinger’s visual listening score to accompany Gyorgy Ligeti’s Artikulation.

via Musicmusic

Music for Grieving: The Minor Third

Eleanor Rigby in (altered) Major key.

Music for Grieving: The Minor Third.

Eleanor Rigby in (original) Minor key.

Music for Grieving: Starting points

If I can endure for this minute, whatever is happening to me,
No matter how heavy my heart is, or how dark the moment may be,
If I can remain calm and quiet, with the entire world crashing upon me,
Secure in the knowledge that I am not alone, that darkness will fade with the morning,
And that this shall pass away too.
Then nothing in life can defeat me, for as long as this knowledge remains,
I can suffer whatever is happening, for I know within I will break all of the chains,
That are binding me tight in the darkness and trying to fill me with fear and grief,
For there is no night without dawning, and I know that my morning is near.

This Too Shall Pass by Helen Steiner Rice

Vast majority of bereaved adolescents need assistance in navigation of their own unique journey through the process of grief and mourning. The death of a loved one is one of the quintessential fear and problem of living, which is an inevitable, universal and normative human experience.

This state of being deprived off or being without someone one had is termed as loss. The experience of grief can be before or after the death. Losing a significant person (total or partial, permanent or temporary), losing a part of oneself, losing an external object and developmental loss (growing up loss) are classified to understand the state of loss in context.

Coping with loss of deceased becomes a suppressed subconscious part of oneself (negative), if not acknowledged. The grief may come in waves, welling up and dominates one’s emotional life, then subsiding, only to recur. The emotional oscillation is such that in most cases bereaved losses ascendancy over him/herself and self conduct. Kubler Ross defined these stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance at interpersonal level.


Music for Grieving: a design workshop

Starting 19 May, Ivor Williams and Alex Rothera (Disney Research) will  lead a week long design workshop, Music for Grieving, with interaction designers, graphic designers and musicians.

Focusing on the relationships adolescents have with technology - which offers a high level of connectivity and increasingly ephemeral and anonymous interactions  - the workshop will engage with a particular group, for whom connectivity and constant communication can be both problematic and emotionally upsetting, and who may benefit from anonymous interactions: grieving adolescents. 

With a particular exploration of music generation and sharing – which could amplifying positive experiences and promote better wellbeing amongst those who are going through difficult periods of life – Being and Dying is working with Dr. Heather Selvaty-Seib of Purdue University, who specialises in adolescent psychology, and the experience of death and grief.

Initial research by interaction design researcher, Chandni Kabra will follow…

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