Investigation 1 - Case Study

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Develop a Case Study on ‘Unexplainable Experiences’

tl;dr: Identify and critically review a case study on unexplainable encounters with everyday technologies: glitches, hacks, hoaxes, manipulations and intentional designs that subvert understanding. The focus here is on a product or project that presents an interesting approach, method or strategy that can be leveraged in your own work. Report your discoveries

Learning Objectives

In addition to the standard case study objectives, here we specifically hope to:

  • To become familiar with the world of tangible and ubiquitous computing by researching researchers, artists and practioners and the work they have created;
  • To identify reference projects in the space of unsettling technology and complex systems that are relevant to your own investigation;
  • To develop a receiptivity to critical production, critical design and critical making; and
  • To learn how others in the field approach questions of spooky/explainable technology through production of computational objects.

“Objects establish and maintain social relationships, which includes how they are used, appropriated and understood by people, but also how they tie people together, shape our place in the social world and live out a life of their own. This understanding of materiality conceives humans and material artifacts as thoroughly entwined in historical and continuous relations.”
- Nansen, Bjorn, et al. “An internet of social things.” 2014.

Selecting the work(s)

You’re asked to develop a case study of creative work that relates to the themes of this module. Your case study can take a few different approaches:

  1. A critical dissection of a single reference project
  2. An exploration the work of someone influential to the field;
  3. One or more projects produced at a lab, by a collective, or at a company.
  4. An examination of a body of work that’s thematically, historically or in some other way related.

You can also take a broad approach to your case study and investigate work across domains:

  • Technical: Ubiquitous, Tangible or Embedded Computing and Interaction;
  • Artistic: Provocative or expressive works (exhibited or performed)
  • Speculative: Critical Design, Engineering or Making; Design Fiction and Futures;

Regardless, it should be an case study you find personally interesting, appealing, etc and should review work you haven’t encountered before.

What to write up:

Follow the guidelines for posting a case study to Slack. Include in your post about 200-300 words in which you discuss:

  1. Briefly introduce your case study in a couple of sentences).
  2. Describe why you selected this case study (what is interesting, inspirational, innovative, etc. about it)
  3. Unpack any example projects in terms of the how it was made (execution, tools, technologies) and why it was made (context, intent, concept)
  4. Describe why the projects are significant or exciting
  5. If appropriate: Critique projects - what are their shortcomings; what concerns do you have, etc.
  6. Draw relationships between projects: What inspired or informed it? How does it compare to other work? Why is it influential and what has it influenced?

The post should contain supporting materials (video, audio, data, code, documents that will help serve as augmentation of the project narrative and represent the case study to your peers. You should provide at minimum one cover/masthead image at the top of the project and you should import from online sources (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).

Example formats for a case study are provided in the main case study information