Design4Health Conference, Sheffield Hallam University, 2018

The ‘Double Agency’ intervention was initiated and designed by artist-researchers Sarah ‘Smizz’ Smith, and Julie Walters. It comprised a series of one-on-one material & dialogical ‘encounters’ with four ‘double agents’, all health practitioners and artist/designer/researchers working with creative methods to look critically at aspects of the healthcare system. Registering online via a system which both mirrors and critiques GP booking systems, conference delegates are invited to enter into a critical and material encounter with each Double Agent Practitioner for ten minutes, at a specific time and in a pre-defined sequence over a total period of 40 minutes. (Double agents are: Laçin Aksoy, Debbie Michaels, Sarah ‘Smizz’ Smith, and Julie Walters)

Those who booked an ‘encounter’ with my research (maximum two people at a time) are brought to a small tutorial room. Here they are invited to sit with me, the material ‘object-body-thing’, and ‘THE VOICE OF ITS MAKING’ – to move around it, touch its threads, move its parts, ask questions, express thoughts or feelings in response, or just to sit quietly. It is ‘an opportunity to stop for a moment – to look, listen, touch, speculate, wonder, suspend judgement – to become involved – and to ask ‘where am I’ in this?’ Through the involvement each person weaves their own thread and contributes to an ongoing speculative conversation with the material of the research situation.

An associated publication presents a dialogue with practitioners working at the interface of Art/Design and Health/Wellbeing, collected around the idea of Double Agency. Contributors include: Laçin Aksoy, Claire Craig, Debbie Michaels, Jonathan Michaels, Becky Shaw, Sarah ‘Smizz’ Smith , Julie Walters, and Frances Williams.

Debbie Michaels, 'Between Encounters: A Speculative Weaving', in Double Agency, ed. by Sarah Smizz and Julie Walters, Sheffield: Independent Publishing Network, 2018