Waterloo Region Cyborgs

By Miraya Groot, XDM MA Graduate.

  • Click for full image.

How do pedestrians’ behaviours differ when they pass through Victoria Park versus Charles Street Terminal? Sitting in eighteen outdoor locations across Waterloo Region’s three cities, I observed over 50 paths where cyborgs revealed themselves. The resulting speculative data enables the comparison of digital technology usage in various urban environments. Ultimately, Waterloo Region Cyborgs aims not to answer whether we should be using our devices in urban space, but to philosophically explore how human subjectivity changes as we are increasingly defined as “users” – of both digital technology and city space.

 

https://waterlooregioncyborgs.wordpress.com

mindflUX

By Megan Honsberger, XDM MA Graduate.

With the advent of wearable technology like fitness trackers, XDM student Megan Honsberger’s mindflUX explores what it means to be online and continuously connected. mindflUX combines a capacitive touch sensor bracelet with visualizations from neopixels which show how often and when an individual uses their device.

Sleep Mode

By Julie Funk, XDM MA Graduate.

Sleep Mode is a digital media project for those who are so connected to their phones
they take them to bed. This project emphasizes how attached we have become to our
mobile devices, and the separation anxiety we feel when those devices are
inaccessible. Sleep Mode asks users to put their smartphones in the locking case and
listen to your phone’s beating heart.

Greyfield/Brightfield

By Julie Funk, XDM MA Graduate.

In Canada, “A greyfield classification is applied to shopping malls with less than CDN $150 in sales per square foot [per year] and a vacancy rate of at least 10-15% (Parlette and Cowen 2011). A greyfield indicates a dead space. An infrastructure void of life. Inspired by the dead mall phenomenon of the twentieth century, this project is interested in practices of spatial interaction that “misuse” or subvert the intent of the space’s original design.

Greyfield/Brightfield asks the user to engage critically with their everyday spacial practices. Using Henri Lefebvre’s spatial theory from The Production of Space, this project situaties itself at the disjuncture between representational space (the ideological or symbolic), represented space (the engineered and designed), and spatial practice (the everyday use of space). Users are asked to engage with the digital display, with their movements being used to control the color saturation of the screen, as a way to think about how the interface changes the way they interact with the space.

Pacetaker

By Julie Funk, XDM MA Graduate.

Pace-Taker is a bio-art and digital media art project that challenges the user to recognize their own feelings of anxiety through interaction with digital technology. Borrowing the notion of “pleasing anxiety” from Soren Kierkegaard’s ontotheological work, The Concept of Anxiety, Pace-Taker aims to create an experience of mindful anxiety by emphasizing the disconnect between the user’s material physicality and the virtuality of digital technology.

Pace-Taker valourizes the corporeality of the user as it asks the viewer to become aware of the somatic responses to these digital anxieties. Centering the biological heart as a metaphor for the human, this project creates various environments of anxiety as the user defines and redefines their somatic relation to digital technology, challenging them to consider this anxiety as “pleasing” or mindful, and urging the user to consider these technologies through more esoteric and speculative conceptions.

iAbstain

By Caitlin Woodcock, XDM MA Graduate.

Take your non-use on-the-go with iAbstain. Place your phone in the mobile carrier and proudly display your choice to actively resist the distractions of digital technology. While your phone is out of use, its battery will slowly deplete, allowing you to focus on the world beyond the screen. Go hands-free and see what else you can pick up.

Basket Case

By Caitlyn Woodcock, XDM MA Graduate.

Inspired by local Mennonite communities, XDM student Caitlin Woodcock’s BasketCase is an experiment in digital abstinence. When a mobile phone is placed in the handwoven basket, a sensor measures how long it rests there. When the phone is removed, the screen displays a percentage comparing the length of time the device rested to the length of time it took to weave the basket (about 20 hours). This piece highlights craft-making as an alternative to technological productivity and as a way to combat the distractions of our devices.

Quilters Can’t Be Users

By Caitlyn Woodcock, XDM MA Graduate.

Grab a few friends and catch up without the compulsive need to check your mobile devices. Inspired by the communal nature of quilting bees, Quilters Can’t Be Users only works if all four pockets are filled. Watch as your time to BE together adds up, then compare that to the percentage of time it took this quilt to be made (approximately 60 hours).

Quilters Can’t Be Users is prat of a series of objects-of-technological abstinence that aim to challenge users to make more mindful choices about gadget use. These projects are also about quantifying the value of domestic craftwork.

Sifter

By Tyler Crick, XDM MA Graduate.

Sifter is a browser toolbar that displays meta-information for websites, fact-checking of content by scraping Snopes and Politifact, fake news website detection by querying established databases, and performs light linguistic analysis of internet content. The underlying goal is to help make the internet a bit more transparent and draw a user’s attention to details that could inform insightful patterns about misinformation.