Monday Oct 12
With the whole group finally present, we began with a round of skills-sharing. Members shared the following:
Jin: illustrator, conceptual writing (and concepts into pictures); experience in graphic design and web design; interested in non-linear narrative/storytelling
Marit: photography, artistic research, data visualization
Celi: background in design (typography and package design); motion design and creative coding (p5.js, basic HTML); applying a speculative lens
Michelle: background in graphic design and web design (HTML, CSS, p5.js); motion design (dynamic type in AE); experience using AE
Amrith: digital fabrication; 3D modeling (CAD, e.g. Fusion); 3D drawing; translation of virtual designs into physical objects
Arimit: interactive web design; motion graphics; 3D modeling; electronics (microcontrollers)
Fien: background in graphic design; architectural research; 2D-3D translations; linear, architectural aspect to planning for projects; tape drawings
Tuesday Oct 13–Thursday Oct 15
1. Touch and Memory
The ideas for our final project grew out of an earlier discussion we had around the link between touch and memory. We came upon the following talking points:
- Memory of the machine: we are all familiar with the concept of embodied knowledge—the idea that cognition is shaped by the fact that we inhabit physical bodies—but what kinds of memory are at work in our devices? How might we operationalize concepts of machine-memory to find ways to connect ourselves across technological media? What are new ways we can understand the metaphor of machine learning and machine memory, in the service of human connection?
- Prosthetic memory: [see above link]
- Data artefacts: we discovered (spurred by an insight of Paul’s) that heat (transmitted through sweat) can turn into a data artefact that triggers the Circuit Playground’s sensors even after contact has been broken. This highlighted another sense in which we might speak of the “memory” of the CP, and the kinds of messages these traces might be able to communicate (“I was, but am no longer here”).
- Haptic feedback: virtual hugs, handshakes
- Impact of analogue technology: analogue technology (such as a circuitboard with LEDs) can give the impression of having a “soft” effect on the user (given that such devices have a physical presence), mitigating the exhaustion the comes with inhabiting an exclusively digital environment.
- Clothing and memory: textiles that carry a kind of “memory” of the wearer (permanent folds, stains, etc.)
- Biology: we are always “touching” ourselves—how does this self-reflexive touching differ from the manner in which we touch others?
2. Fluidity of Presence
We began to ask questions: what if, instead of focusing on touch, we directed our attention to other concepts surrounding intimacy? Immediately, we began discussing ways to incorporate sensations associated with physical embodiment—namely, sensing (seeing, hearing) the proximity or distance of physical bodies in space. Followed by a rapid brainstorm, circling in on what would become our central concept [brainstorm below]:
- “Touch-log:” a device that communicates a limited history of pushes, taps, brushes and squeezes; how to simulate, or create a metaphor for texture?
- The long goodbye (lingering farewell): fadeouts (screen the blurs, audio that gets quieter) instead of abrupt disconnections (hanging up).
- Non-binary states of connection (spectrum of online states)
- How do we create new social constructions for virtual spaces? In the vein of digital utopias—(the moment when you realize that you have neglected the speculative, the promise and potential of the digital beyond what exists in the real world…)
- Finding the right metaphors…
- Remains of the day: sampling snippets from previous conversations that might play in your headphones after you leave the chat
At the end of it all, we had our concept, and a means of articulating it. What we found was lacking in our digital interactions was this fluidity of presence we had defined before.
We divided ourselves up into the following configurations:
Hardware Team – Fien, Celi
Hardware Team (Speculative) – Amrith
Software Team – Arimit
Software Team (Speculative) – Michelle, Marit, Jin
Documentarian - Ezra