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Morana Alac (UC San Diego)
February 7, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
At the request of the speaker, video will not be recorded for the talk.
Designing for Sensory Ethnography: A case of Camera (In)Odorata
In the age of visual dominance and environmental hypersensitivity, when we are more allergic than ever before (to chemicals, fragrances, food, buildings, etc.), we tend not to be drawn to the sense of smell as a way to think about our embeddedness in the world, let alone bother with opening up the long-standing assumption of olfactory ineffability. This is, nevertheless, what this talk does as it pays attention to everyday life in a laboratory that studies the sense of smell in humans. The ethnographic study of the laboratory incorporates video recordings of its everyday activities, tracing spatial arrangements and how living spaces are organized in the lab, as well as designing an installation. The installation—Camera (In)Odorata—is a multisensory environment designed in collaboration with sculptor Evelyn Walker that mixes the ethnographic material collected in the lab with elements of historical reconstruction, and is intended as a mode of going beyond textual and visual representations when rendering research on the senses. This turning to design as a part of methodological investigation in social science stems from what Jim Hollan and Ed Hutchins’ DCog-HCI lab was practicing in the early 2000s when designing the Digital Ethnography Workbench and tools such as ChronoViz. Camera Odorata, however, is neither a tool that can be used across projects, nor an example of advanced technology that will make us more efficient. Instead, Camera Odorata slows us down and makes us stumble, as it gets us to notice. This talk engages the installation as a method for noticing of how the language without words is spoken in the laboratory, and how, in turn, attending to this speaking amplifies peculiar aspects of olfactory objects that constitute our lived world.
About the Speaker
Morana Alač is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at UCSD: http://communication.ucsd.edu/people/faculty/morana-alac.html