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.



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…

Body Optimisation


The balance between intellectual and technical pursuits and the connection to one’s physical body is in flux. For many, long periods of sitting and working wreck havoc on the physical self. Body Optimization is a set of methods and guidelines for defending the physical body from decay. It is especially important to those who use their mental abilities more often than their physical abilities. In Greek history, a perfectly balanced person was one who had a balance between physical self and mental self.

Tantek Çelik, a software developer who runs a wiki on Body Optimization, points out that “at some point in everyone’s life there comes a moment of realization that the container that you exist in will not last forever”.To mitigate this downward trend, Çelik offers the following techniques:

Environmental risk factor reduction

By avoiding sources of harm from your surrounding environment, you can decrease risk to your health.

Intelligent Consumption

Simply by making small, scientifically-informed choices about dietary intake, many metrics can be improved.

Physical Training

With minor improvements in physical training over time, it is possible to ramp up physical capabilities and thus make steady forward progress per active measurements.

via Cyborg Anthropology

Your body wasn’t build to last

What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year?  Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100?  1 in 10,000?  Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.

Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years.  For me, a 25-year-old American, the probability of dying during the next year is a fairly minuscule 0.03% — about 1 in 3,000.  When I’m 33 it will be about 1 in 1,500, when I’m 42 it will be about 1 in 750, and so on.  By the time I reach age 100 (and I 
do plan on it) the probability of living to 101 will only be about 50%.  This is seriously fast growth — my mortality rate is increasing exponentially with age.

via Gravity and Levity

The prospective future of bio-hacking: The establishment of a Church

Churches in modern history do not only represent religions praising specific spiritual higher entities. They are institutions representing ideals, schools of thought and principles that groups of people choose to abide by. The need of an institution like a church is justified as a need to have an entity recognisable by a state, which provides the mental and physical freedom to connect with like-minded people and work for a common purpose. A real life case of such an institution is the Church of Kopimism (deriving from Copy Me), that has been established in Sweden and also recognized as a religion by the State of Sweden since 2012. The church was built upon the ideal that copying and file sharing is holy and should be embraced. The act of copying one’s work is perceived as a way of appreciating that outcome and as a religious practice taking the role of a ritual done in a virtual worshipping space. 

In order to provide the bio-hacking community some sort of a stance, the idea of playing around with the concept of establishing a church seems ideal, also from the perspective of speculative design. A speculative design should aim to depict a current unreality, on the premises of which various values and beliefs are explored and set as the defaults, in order for the viewer to relate to it. The topic of religion in general applies to all cultures, and people either embrace it, challenge it or choose to ignore it. Religion has a role in people’s lives in one way or the other, thus a speculative piece on that topic would easily engage the public.

Combining that with the provocative nature of bio-hacking as a topic, is a recipe that is close enough to the everyday but yet has enough empty space to explore and occupy with a design that raises eyebrows and makes users question their own stand. Bio-hacking already has a strong online community, thus the foundations for establishing a church is there. The following would provoke a discussion aiming to possibly facilitate such a process in the later future. 

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