[-empyre-] Wearables: The Paradoxical Nature of Things

Michele Danjoux mdanjoux at dmu.ac.uk
Thu Jun 2 10:04:40 EST 2011

Hi All

And thank you for this month's postings.

>>As technology becomes more embedded and inte- grated with mobility, the barriers between social and technical aspects become blurred. A paradoxical out- come of ubiquitous computing is that it is simulta- neously very personal and extremely global.>>

This quote came from article I was reading on Designing Social Infrastructure: Critical Issues in Creating Learning Environments With Technology, Journal of the Learning Sciences
Volume 15, Issue 3, 2006, Pages 301 - 329, Author: Katerine Bielaczyc

I think it is quite apt in many ways as it draws attention to the paradoxical nature of things and in a way, mirrors our struggle, as we move between opposing forces of our interactions and interventions within this field of wearable technologies: public v’s private, intimate/antisocial v's social etc... Personal and global, this is really what we are looking at don't you think, the extremes of things, a kind of shrinking and expansion simultaneously. We have become like Alice in her Wonderland, shifting between an almost invisibility working on the tiniest of scales to overwhelmingly large and powerful proportions... And life, our very existences, in the technological age have also become quite paradoxical to me in many respects (maybe you agree), as have our design(ed) ambitions as we move between our various often contradictory states and realities. 

To summarize (and in response to Johannes' last post seeking our views on the month) as I see it from these discussions, wearables clearly span many fields of interest and I think (as our discussions have also shown) cannot be classified/defined or indeed entered into so easily or satisfactorily. Actually, before this list, I had not perhaps thought about it being such a complex field to understand but gradually, as I have read the postings, I have become more unsure/less sure about what I thought I knew and the position I had. There have been many links and interesting examples given, but somehow, I just don't feel we allowed ourselves to really open up and have those sustained and focused discussions. Things could have been expanded more fully using the examples to better illustrate and underpin core issues and trains of thought, rather than describing the project, I think I would have liked better interlinking maybe, just a suggestion.

Time is of course an issue for us all I think.

Some posts I really enjoyed such as Danilelle Wilde's as I really felt she was open and sharing and returned to various points and core issues effectively which was helpful. Johannes also helped to re-focus but then we almost departed again.

Johannes says in his penultimate post to date:

>>again, we worry except when we don'; when we tend to think that clothing, and accessories we wear, 
are not for function alone, but for social and psychological purposes that always exceed primary function and involve various backstage scripts,
and are we fully conscious of the choices we make and what gestures we have adopted, and then again, often we are fully/performatively conscious
of the roles we play, and thus colonization (if you look at the text below) is a fractious political problem.>>

The text by Guillermo Gomez-Peña is fascinating (and maybe some of us are also familiar with similar experiences), it illustrates nicely our technologies of detection, interrogation and humiliation, our architectures and interactive performative spaces to invetigate the interior body space (and the mind) and make the unseen seen. The story opens up a whole new realm I think and so in way for me, the discussion looses its focus again as we take on other major considerations, expanding out to look at other more extreme bio-political issues etc. And maybe we should be more extreme with our discussions but it almost felt that we barely really gotten started. 

I also wanted to make a comment in response to the first part of Johannes' quote above, saying that no, I don't think we are always acutely conscious of our choices or what movements we make but this again is a whole other architecture of wearing and of subtle and persuasive marketing forces, peer pressures and a myriad of invisible pressures we may or may not respond to on a subconscious. But then again, consumers are far more savvy these days; so much is also intentional and understood within certain realms.

Best Regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Johannes Birringer
Sent: Wed 6/1/2011 3:15 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] this month's discussion on wearables, distributed
dear all

well, it's been announced the month's discussion is nearly or practically over,
and one already has a sense that for some reason the discussion didn't come together,
or discussants posted and left/did not return, some returned but it felt we were not
having a conversation, or debate on some of the issues proposed between us, from the beginning,
is this just my impression, or do others feel the same?

what made this month's discussion difficult, in your opinion?

with regards
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

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