Had a productive morning of reflective writing, and through it realised a few connections in my thinking that I hadn’t previously spotted. First, that the thing I’m researching is embedded, embodied and everyday (as Christine Hine describes it in terms of ethnography), and as such, the work I make to inquire into it should be the same. Part of what’s been slowing me up is an implicit expectation that the work will be presented in a gallery context, and to consider it instead as something everyday, that might exist within and between the everyday social interactions that devices mediate, seems quite liberating.
I attended a C3RI seminar by Heath Reed from Design Futures, snappily titled Positioning creative, three dimensional design practice and understanding its role and value in university based social research and development projects. It was a good explanation of the sorts of things that the design for health people are working on, and in some ways the products and devices they are coming up with have such a positive impact on people’s lives that it puts the value of my own research activity into sobering perspective. The presentation sought to identify a theoretical perspective from which to understand university-hosted design projects of this nature, and outlined how the university is one of the only places where multidisciplinary teams can conduct “deep research” in addition to working on design concepts in a consultancy capacity. The outside design world sees this hybridisation as an unfair advantage, as external consultancies have mainly commercial concerns. The consensus in the room was that this sort of work is precisely what universities are supposed to be doing (as opposed to designing better hairdryers for example), and this raised an ethical question for me about how the work is valued; the value of contracts and bids was discussed in monetary terms, but little was said about how lives are qualitatively altered for the better, or how the neoliberalised model of research funding contributes to this assessment of the quality and value of the research.
I also spent some time following up a lead that my supervisor gave to an exhibition. I’d seen the article but skipped it, thinking it was about Timo Arnall, but it’s actually Jon Gerrard who is opening a show in London presently. I searched out some further shows and booked a gallery visit trip for near the end of the month.