Chalmers Conferences, Transvaluation: Making the world matter

The Debtoscope: Transvaluation through Design
Soren Rosenbak

Last modified: 2015-08-17


This paper discusses transvaluation through design from an analysis of the ‘Debtoscope’, a design intervention dealing with the issue of debt that took place in Brisbane, Australia, November 2012. Framed around the single question: “How does debt hurt you?” the project used a seven metre long stethoscope made of local recycled trash material to expose the invisible suffering from indebtedness in the public urban space. Through the unpacking of the stethoscope as a Nietzschean metaphor and the discussion of diagnosis as a tactic for hacking infrastructural space, the Debtoscope brings us closer, not only to what transvaluation through design could be like, but perhaps also to what it should be like.


Transvaluation through design; stethoscope; diagnosis; debt; extradisciplinarity; extra-regulation


Barad, K. 1996. Meeting the universe halfway: Realism and social constructivism withoutcontradiction. Feminism, science, and the philosophy of science, 161-194.

Bardzell, J. and S. Bardzell. 2013. What is “critical” about critical design? Proceedings ofCHI’2013. New York: ACM.

Blyth, M. 2013. The Austerity Delusion. Foreign Affairs. May/June 2013. Volume 92, Number 3.The Debt Project:, 2015-08-10.

Dienst, R. 2011. The Bonds of Debt. London: Verso.

van Dijck, J. 2014. Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big Data between scientificparadigm and ideology. Surveillance & Society 12(2), 197-208.

Dilnot, C. 2015. History, Design, Futures: Contending With What We Have Made in Fry, T.,Dilnot, C. & Stewart, S. C. Design and the Question of History. London: BloomsburyAcademic.

Easterling, K. 2014. Extrastatecraft: the power of infrastructure space. London: Verso.

Fry, T. 2011. Urban futures in the age of unsettlement futuring, defuturing. Futures 43: 432–439.

Gathergood, J. 2012. Debt and Depression: Causal Links and Social Norm Effects. The EconomicJournal, 122 (September), 1094–1114.

Gleeson, A. 2012. Consumed. An exploration of debt in Brisbane’s young adults. QCA: Brisbane.

Graeber, D. 2009. Debt: The first 5000 years. Mute Magazine, 2009-02.10.

de Graeve, P. n.d. Transvaluation” – Making the World Matter. Göteborg: Chalmers Universityof Technology.

Holmes, B. 2007. Extradisciplinary Investigations Towards a New Critique of Institutions.Available at:

Hunt, J. 2005. A Manifesto for Postindustrial Design. I.D. Magazine, November/December Issue.London: Levelprint Ltd.

Jameson, F. .1994. The Seeds of Time. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Kofman, S. 1993. Nietzsche and Metaphor. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford:Oxford University press.

Lorenz, C. 2012. If You're So Smart, Why Are You under Surveillance? Universities, Neoliberalism, and New Public Management. Critical Inquiry, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Spring 2012),599-629.

Majmudar M. D., Colucci, L. A. & Landman, A. B. 2015. The quantified patient of the future:Opportunities and challenges. Healthcare.

Memefest: Imagination, intervention, investigation:, 2015-08-10.

Nelson, H., & Stolterman, E. 2012. The Design Way. Intentional Change in an UnpredictableWorld. 2nd Edition. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Rittel, H. 1972. On the Planning Crisis: Systems Analysis of the ‘First and Second Generations’.Bedrifts Økonomen, No.8, October.

Simon, H. 1996. The Sciences of the Artifical. Cambridge: The MIT Press.The State of Queensland, South Bank Corporation. 2011. Annual Report 2010/11. Available at:http://South, 2015-08-10. Brisbane: The State of Queensland, South Bank Corporation.

Thackara, J. (2005). In The Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Tzu, S. 2005. The Art of War. Boston: Shambhala Publications.

Vodeb, O. 2014. In Search of Extradisciplinary Dialogue and Intervention: Debt and Brisbane in Vodeb, O & Kolenc, N. J., eds. 2014. InDEBTed to Intervene, Critical Lessons in Debt,Communication, Art and Theoretical Practice. Ljubljana: Memefest Interventions & Brisbane: Queensland College of Art/Griffith University.

Woodham, J. M. 1994. Twentieth-Century Design. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Full Text: PDF