Publications (1)0 Total impact
ABSTRACT: Fieldworks Fieldworks n. 1. The workings of life in the field. 2. Works (of art) that reflect on/respond to the field. 3. Works (of art) in the field. 4. Works (of art) made in, and with people in, the field. We are designers, not artists. However, the associations sparked by the term 'fieldworks' resonate strongly with the processes and products of our work. Our 'fieldworks' are future material cultures that include new technologies. We design technologies in context, working with, rather than against the fact that technologies are not static, neutral artefacts, but malleable and transformative. Indeed, so deeply are they intertwined with lived culture that what we do with them and how we change in engagement with them must be part of the technology design process. Ethnographic fieldwork and involvement of the people who will inhabit computationally augmented future material cultures are an integral part of our design approach. Challenge: Grounded imagination As technologies are becoming pervasive and ubiquitous, blending ever more deeply with our physical environments and cultures (Weiser 1994), anthropologists, artists and architects have made their way into technology research and design. This calls for dialogue with software and hardware designers as well as future users and others. We are engaged in an international interdisciplinary research project called workSPACE 1 designing ubiquitous technologies and environments. A five year study of landscape architects along with shorter studies serve to ground, inform and inspire design, but technological possibilities and spatial, aesthetic and semantic considerations also make their way into the dialogue. Fieldwork – the way it is carried out, analysed and represented – is challenged in a setting like this where the design team is distributed across many different disciplinary and geographical 'home' locations. Fieldwork needs to be owned across boundaries. It also needs to be informed by technological, and aesthetic considerations. We need 'grounded imagination' – grounded in the field, technological possibilities and constraints, practical, and aesthetic considerations. 'Grounded imagination' is a paradoxical endeavour. Making the present inform the future, combining analysis with imagination, weaving together programmed computation and creative, situated human action often feel like attempts to square a circle. At the same time, these tensions are productive. In our experience 'grounded imagination' does not happen by itself, verbal dialogue is far from enough to make all the disciplines 'talk' the same language; representations of fieldwork, technological possibilities, spatial, aesthetic & semantic considerations do not do the job on their own – dialogue must be a part of doing, and dialogue needs to be put in context.