Design Ethnography poster

designethno

Here's a photo of the poster we presented two weeks ago at the European Academy of Design Conference in Paris. It's based on a research project conducted at HEAD – Genève which led to this book (we're working on a second edition). The diagrams depicts the different profiles of designers (regarding the way to carry out field research in their projects) and the set of steps they go through (from producing data to analyzing them and creating design elements out of it). This is the type of process I am using in my workshops about design ethnography, as a pedagogical tool to help participants. We're going to use it in the upcoming studio organized with Annelore Schneider at the Geneva School of Art and Design in order to explore the future of mobile photography.

The graphic design has been done by Fabienne Kilchör and Sebastien Fasel from emphase.ch

Short Cuts between art, design and technology

shortcuts1

"Short Cuts" is a fascinating exhibit at Centre Pasquart (Biel, Switzerland) curated by my colleague Daniel Sciboz, with the collaboration of Jean-Louis Boissier :

"At a time in which the digital is omnipresent, the interdisciplinary group exhibition Short Cuts highlights the dialogue between two generations of artists who operate between art, design and technology. This comparison makes clear how technology and its influences are present in the electronic arts of our own times as well as in the concrete and kinetic art of the 60s and 70s. In these works we see graphic design, algorithms, innovative production processes of series and new kinds of aesthetic forms. Comparable with the view through a kaleidoscope, the exhibition allows access to a variety of formal and discursive approaches which refer to the interplay between the increasingly digitalised world in which we live and artistic practices influenced by digital media."

Some examples below, among many inspiring pieces.

Sphère-trame by François Morellet

Sphère-trame by François Morellet

Archive U.768 by NORM

Archive U.768 by NORM

Archive U.768 by NORM

Archive U.768 by NORM

Karl Gerstner's Le Grand Oeuvre revisited as a game by Douglas-Edric Stanley and Antonin Fourneau

Karl Gerstner's Le Grand Oeuvre revisited as a game by Douglas-Edric Stanley and Antonin Fourneau

Retrocompatible Museum by Antonin Fourneau and Douglas-Edric Stanley

Retrocompatible Museum by Antonin Fourneau and Douglas-Edric Stanley

http://www.neogeocity.com by Rafael Rozendaal (left) and FRAMED 2.0 by Yugo Nakamura and William Lai.

http://www.neogeocity.com by Rafael Rozendaal (left) and FRAMED 2.0 by Yugo Nakamura and William Lai.


“Teacher of algorithms”: the IoT equivalent to goldfarmers

"Teacher of Algorithms" by Simone Rebaudengo and commissioned by thingtank.org/ is an highly intriguing project "built with Cardboard and a lot of randomness". It's basically an exploration of algorithm training, how "smart/learning objects" are not finished entities and can evolve by observing contextual data such a people's habits.

Why do I blog this? A fascinating speculative exploration of an important topic; i love the notion of "teach of algorithm" based on the fact that people might be too lazy to train their so-called smart things. It's the "internet of things" equivalent to goldfarmers to some extent. Besides that, the future mundane flavor is great in there.

Visioconference-while-walking

visioselfie

Some serious business going on here: a Facetime-enabled visioconference operated while walking (seen in Geneva, Switzerland). Verbal and non-verbal communication in the context of a heated debate on a subject I could not parse because of my lack of knowledge of this language.

Why do I blog this? Such situation is nonetheless utterly fascinating as a curious rituals happening these days (with or without a selfie-stick). The "private bubble" located in the public sphere in a new way with different instruments.

Networked coffee-machine

coffeemachine

This coffee machine encountered at the University of Lausanne (thanks Olivier G. for pointing me this example) seems like an interesting example of an everyday situation reconfigured by digital technology. Apart from cash, coffee drinkers can use their RFID "campus card" (see the plastic things that hold the card on the reader), which also happens to open door and pay restaurants among other tasks:

coffeemachine2

Why do I blog this? documenting the digital everyday, as mundane as it may be.

About technology non-use

An inspiring article in ACM interactions called "on the importance and implications of studying technology non-use" by Eric Baumer, Jenna Burrell, Morgan Ames, Jed Brubaker and Paul Dourish. It revolves around the idea that the "the dominant discourse in HCI still focuses primarily on technology users" and that "non-use and other forms of technological relationships" are both common and relevant to analyze. The topic that caught my attention is the typology of non-usage:

"Non-use could be understood as the absence of action and, as such, may not be amenable to study through methods traditionally used to study participants’ actions. [...] In contrast, Jonathan Lukens’s study of visual artists who avoid using tools such as Photoshop for specific portions of their work demonstrates how non-use can require as much, if not more, conscious, deliberate, effortful action as technology use does. In this way, while non-use is often understood as the absence of a phenomenon or practice, something else likely exists in place of use, and it is that something we should be studying. [...] Lindsay Ems’s research highlights that even individuals or groups famous for non-use, such as the Amish, do not avoid information and communication technologies entirely, but rather selectively take them up, mediated by cultural norms and religious values. [...] non-use could be understood not as an identity, where a given individual is either a user or a non-user, but rather as a continually negotiated practice. For example, Alex Leavitt’s work studying situational non-use of Google Glass points to the moment-to-moment negotiations, often around privacy, between the Glass wearer and others about when and how the technology should (and should not) be used."

See also the position papers from the workshop that led to this paper.

Why do I blog this? Because this kind of blind spot might be interesting to focus on in a design ethnography class.

Curious Rituals: Double-Selfie

Geneva, February 2015.

Geneva, February 2015.

The curious gesticulation that leads to a double selfie.

Why do I blog this? I started a follow-up project to "Curious Rituals" focused on the usage of smartphones.

“Activate switch”, “Touch to Exit”, “Push to Exit”, “Press to operate door”

San Francisco, Feb. 2015

San Francisco, Feb. 2015

"Activate switch", "Touch to Exit", "Push to Exit", "Press to operate door": the vocabulary of doors is impressive here.

Zelda game wristwatch 1989

zeldawatch

The "Legend of Zelda" watch is a multi-purpose device made by Nelsonic Industries, who obtained the Nintendo license back at the end of the 1980s. According to the Wikipedia, 12 million copies were sold, which is quite impressive and perhaps better than recent watch computers.

Is that a smartwatch? That's maybe not the main point here, but it's intriguing to think about the fact that there's already a lot of examples (like this) of showing how computation can help triggering a playful user experience on a wrist-based tiny device.

Beyond the functionalities, I'm also curious of the gestural behavior of the user here. The manipulation of the buttons is tricky but doable, although it's way different than the NES version of Zelda.

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