Category Archives: emerging technologies

Feminism, hormones and the Quantified Self: Imagining data futures

I look forward to talking about feminism and data in the University of Leeds (School of Media and Communication) soon. This is work that will appear in a Chapter about reproductive rights, digital media and feminism in my forthcoming book, later this year.

March 23rd, 2016 | Time: 16:15 — 17:30

Media and Communication, University of Leeds

Room G.12, Clothworkers’ North Building.

chart

Feminism, hormones and the Quantified Self: Imagining data futures

There is a proliferation of tracking apps today that can be used to monitor fertility and reproductive hormones (Lupton, 2015). Reproductive control has been a key issue for feminism, and women have always logged their data in some way; however, it is with digital technologies and smart phones that data collection carries a promise of significant life changes. 

Although the Quantified Self has been described to be mostly about ‘toys for boys’, smart, geeky, talented’ women involved in sensor hacking organise women-only Quantified Self meetups in the US, to discuss hormonal tracking. At the same time, projects such as the Hormone Project aim to bring together women who self-track, doctors and researchers, in order to influence innovation in biotech and personalized health. This paper examines such developments and asks how far data collection has the potential to make the voices of women heard, beyond the articulation of consumer demands about digital health. Placing my analysis within frameworks of gendered and reproductive labour and their centrality to global capitalism (Dickenson, 2007; Franklin and Lock, 2003; Thompson, 2005), I discuss how the material and semiotic intersect in the making of data and feminist futures.

 

my paper Quantifying the Self at XR2014

My paper Quantifying the Self: All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data

Aristea Fotopoulou

at Crossroards in Cultural Studies in Tampere Finland is in

SESSIONS H Wednesday 15:45–17:15 H1 Permeable Boundaries: Bodies in Science, Medicine, and Culture

(Chair: Michelle Iwen, Arizona State University, United States).

Paper abstract

This paper examines the emerging culture of the Quantified Self movement, whose
practitioners undertake a range of practices of data collection, management and analysis, in order to produce knowledge about the self. The movement has been recently understood in terms of surveillance (Phillips) and the Panopticon (Bossewitch and Sinnreich). Drawing from fieldwork with San Francisco and London-based quantifiers, this paper focuses instead on what people do with the new technologies, what tracking means for them and how it gets embedded in their everyday lives. The analysis engages with media (Couldry, Hepp), sociological and anthropological work (Durkheim, Goffman) on rituals, to approach Quantified Self as a media culture that performs ritualistic reconstructions of the Self, and shows how the movement constantly reinvents itself and its position in existing social structures through the narratives that it produces and circulates in the media.

Panel Abstract

This panel will present papers that look at how science, medicine and culture construct,
regulate and/or challenge physical bodies and their borders. More specifically, we will
examine the problematic nature of a normalized “self”, complicated by issues of bodily
excretions and the prevalence of nonhuman biological material within the human body.
This concern for a human “self” is troubled in 18th century Enlightenment discourses of theinterior/exterior bodily boundary and issues of a gender binary, secreting organs, anddisturbances of mood. Moving the body into the 21st century, these same concerns over interior/exterior boundaries resurface in the narratives of bodies in outer space, as concerns about excretion and reproductive capacity unfold along gendered lin
es in biomedical research beyond the bounds of our planet. Finally, we will examine how the idea of a traditionally bounded “self” is potentially challenged by contemporary
immunology/microbiology and explore the subsequent consequences for health practices.

Outputs of NEMODE project

The NEMODE-funded research has now finished and has provided the following outputs (published at the NEMODE website):

Report on Research placement

The Final Report from the placement is available here: AFotopoulou_Nemode End of Placement052014

Slides:

‘All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’, a presentation on platform openness, data sharing and visions democracy. Slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 01

‘Climbing Gotzilla with Fitbit: Apps, sensors and all these data’ presentation slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 02

Forthcoming Outputs:

  • Participation now! section of Open Democracy (e-magazine) commissioned piece about the Quantified Self. Participation now is a platform co- ordinated by the Open University, which aims to facilitate debate and mutual learning among the many different actors involved, so that we better understand these new forms of public participation in the broader social and political context in which they are situated.
  • Article in The Conversation: Curated by professional editors, The Conversation offers informed commentary and debate on the issues affecting our world.
  • Academic Paper entitled Quantifying the Self: All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data has been accepted by the Academic Committee of the 10T H IN T E R N A T I O N A L CO N F E R E N C E  CR O S S R O A D S I N CU L T U R A L ST U D I E S that will be held in Tampere, Finland, July 1-4, 2014.

 

Tracking biodata: sharing and ownership

The placement has now finished and has provided the following outputs (published at the NEMODE website):

Report on Research placement

The Final Report from the placement is available here: AFotopoulou_Nemode End of Placement052014

Slides:

‘All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’, a presentation on platform openness, data sharing and visions democracy. Slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 01

‘Climbing Gotzilla with Fitbit: Apps, sensors and all these data’ presentation slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 02

Forthcoming Outputs:

  • Participation now!section of Open Democracy (e-magazine) commissioned piece about the Quantified Self. Participation now is a platform co- ordinated by the Open University, which aims to facilitate debate and mutual learning among the many different actors involved, so that we better understand these new forms of public participation in the broader social and political context in which they are situated.
  • Article in The Conversation: Curated by professional editors, The…

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Bioengineering and Meat Cultures event on Friday

On Friday I will be presenting collaborative research on the in-vitro meat case of the EPINET project. The paper is an analysis of the live television launch of the first in-vitro meat burger in August 2013, which frames the launch as a “media event” (Couldry & Hepp); and an examination of the main discourses circulating in digital culture round this time, which together work towards a critical discussion about the publics of synthetic meat.

The panel is with bioartist Oron Catts (synthetica) and philosopher Jake Metcalf. The event is part of Justice in a More than Human World – Collaboration or exploitation? Working with living systems across the arts and sciences, by Science and Justice workgroup  Human / Non-Human Collaboration Across the Arts & Sciences.

Friday February 28, 2014, 4:00-6:00PM, Engineering 2 Room 599, UCSC

“Bioengineering and Meat Cultures”

Meat grown in a laboratory is being promoted as a response to the harmful effects of “conventional” factory-farmed meat production. Artists and scholars have identified how meat cultures are a new class of being, with their own unique characteristics. Some of these characteristics are precisely what makes lab-grown meat appealing as a food source, and some provoke what is frequently deemed “the yuck factor.” Viewing this new class of beings, along with other bioengineered critters, as custom-built collaborators, we explore the ways humans relate to and intervene in the more-than-human world to feed, clothe, house, and entertain themselves–and the way we respond when these interventions, collaborations, and cultures turn sour.

Hosts: Andy Murray and Sophia Magnone
Visiting Scholar and Artist: Oron Catts (http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au/)

Oron Catts is an artist, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 in collaboration with Ionat Zurr, is considered a leading biological art project.  He is the founding director of SymbioticA, (which he co-founded in 2000) an artistic research centre housed within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia.

Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008. In 2009 Catts was recognized by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”. His work has been widely exhibited internationally in venues such as NY MoMA, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and National Art Museum of China.

Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction, Royal College of Arts, London, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki where he was commissioned to set up Biofilia – Base for Biological Art and Design. Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

Starting at UCSC Science & Justice

This is my first weekend blogpost since moving to California from Brighton, for my research secondment at the Science and Justice Research Center, in Santa Cruz (while I still work on my postdoc in the EPINET project, University of Sussex). The programme of the Center looks really exciting, and I look forward to attending my first research event next Wednesday, January 22, with the President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Peter Yu, as well as UCSC-based David Haussler, which opens up a series of discussions about Science and Justice in an Age of Big Data. At a later date, there will also be a screening of the movie FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement, which was created and produced by UCSC Social Documentary alum Regan Brashear. I also look forward to events organised by Science and Justice Fellows Gene A. Felice II, Sophia Magnone and Andy Murray, entitled Justice in the More-than-Human World: Fostering Care and Affinity in Emergent Collaborations.

My contribution as Visiting Scholar to this fascinating research culture and community will be an interdisciplinary workshop, on March 5th, addressing key issues about the sharing of personal biodata today, which will be co-organised with the Digital Arts & New Media programme and OpenLab. I will post more about this here soon.

Before that, I will be presenting work-in-progress on my project Tracking personal data for use in research: sharing and ownership (funded by RCUK Digital Economy Theme (DE) NEMODE), on February 5th, at Center for Cultural Studies (University of California, Santa Cruz), entitled All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’: platform openess, data sharing and visions of democracy‘. All welcome!