Note: as mentioned by Patrick last week, the I&IC project moved further and we’re now doing additional workshops. Here is the brief of the one proposed by Sascha Pohflepp to Media Design students at HEAD – Genève this week.
Workshop brief, November 2015.
Sascha Pohflepp (plugimi)
Photo by Hanna Elisabeth
All that is solid melts into Airbnb
– title of an event at the Swiss Institute, September 2014
We are being ever more permeated by clouds. This migration of aspects of our life into the digital is only going to speed up as more and more aspects of it is being captured as data and mediated by services. But what is the cloud? Does it have a physical presence? What is its language? Can we resist it? Do certain people use it in certain ways? Are users always human? Does it ever rain? What are gestures of the cloud today ?
In this project we are asking you to assume both the role of a cloud ethnographer and speculative documentarian.
In the first step you will do field work to find out how exactly our lives that are evaporating into the cloud. Formulate a research question, position or hypothesis and observe people, focussing on gestures and metaphors. Ask them to describe how they imagine the cloud, how they conceive of the objects they are creating and the machinery that is running it. How they feel it is affecting their life and where it may be going.
Importantly, do not just consider what is in front of you, also think about the vast cascade of actions that a simple touch on a display might initiate. Some gestures may be invisible, some may take the shape of cities.
Collect as much as data as you can, this is important. Give thought to your method before you go into the field. Consider some of the examples you’ve seen during the introduction and adapt their techniques to your needs and interests.
For the second step we ask you to turn your data into a document of what you observed and its cloudiness. You are fairly free in terms of medium and what aspects you focus on. There will be something in your data that will serve as a focal point. Present your research in an unconventional way.
Elaborate on a small gesture and expand it or focus on the whole and distill it into one gesture. Be a true documentarian or reflect on our world by situating your insights in a speculation.
Re-enact (and document) behaviors; make the invisible visible or embody it; describe what you see in language or pretend you are observing a new language; pretend everything is the other way around; consider the largest gesture involved in what you have observed, consider the smallest; consider who is gesturing and towards whom; are users human?; create maps or destroy them; re-/assign gestures; reflect the all-too human; draw.
MONDAY Presentation + brainstorming session
TUESDAY Ethnographic fieldwork & data collection, processing
WEDNESDAY Data presentation and work on presentation
THURSDAY AM Finalizing presentation
THURSDAY PM Final presentation
Related work & reading
Slides of Sascha’s presentation (PDF)
Versuch_einer_Phaenomenologie by Vilem Flusser
Drawing a Hypothesis (video) by Nikolaus Gansterer
A Simple Introduction to the Practice of Ethnography and Guide to Ethnographic Fieldnotes by Brian Hoey