Materializing the Collection DH@Guelph 2020—postponed

with Dr. Shana MacDonald, Assistant Professor, Communication Arts, University of Waterloo.

Description: This course builds on the organizer’s growing interest in co-creating new forms of interface that leverage physicality and kinesthetic intelligence. Through the process of making, thinking, and remaking, we will explore the personal, social, and ethical consequences of turning people, environments, communities, or experiences into data, aggregating that data, then abstracting it graphically. Our primary area of concern in the course is with the potential of graphical data visualizations to further the dehumanization and decontextualization of the human experience. We are further concerned that certain individuals, communities, and environments are more vulnerable to what may occur within practices of computational translation and abstraction. This course proposes to explore these questions and themes through developing processes of thinking through data/making via different acts of materialization. Materialization (or to materialize) is defined as “to invest or become invested with a physical shape or form”. Materialization is a process of transmutation where the results are uncertain and in flux. Scaffolding the course via a series of experiments, participants will explore ways to shift textual or quantitative data into material builds that generate new qualitative data and allow participants to encounter embodied experiences of data in/as research. Our goal will be to guide our participants towards furthering their transmutations into sites of remediation by adding an additional layer of experience and knowledge production through public, digital repositories including social media. The course will operate via two interrelated parts:

PART 1—Materializing the Digital

Participants will be asked to select or work with pre-existing text and / or data collections. Working in small groups, they will devise, plan, and execute the simultaneous gathering and displaying of their collections, providing opportunities for:

  • Community (UofG) engagement with collection creation and interpretation;
  • Planning for the unexpected / unanticipated in design; and
  • Physical co-creation.
  • Physical Exhibition design from Born Digital content (Aynur share her experience)

PART 2—Digitally Augmenting the Material

Using either social media or Augmented Reality (AR), participants will explore the opportunities and consequences of adding a digital engagement aspect to their material builds. This will give participants a chance to think through the values and practices of translating data from digital to material and then how to re-materialize what has been translated back into digital public forms. This practice-based research approach will help outline how different forms of knowledge are produced at different sites of material/re-materialization.

Intended Audience: This course is intended for DH researchers at all stages of their career, including graduate researchers as well as those working with and actively developing data repositories and archives who are interested in the relationships between digital data and material practices. It will be especially of use for interdisciplinary scholars, research-creation and pratice-based researchers, and scholars with a commitment to feminist design, feminist media, and socially equitable DH practices. 


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