Monday, January 04, 2010

Visit to Object Research Lab, Amsterdam

This week I'm going to Amsterdam, the guest of Dutch artist Yvonne Droge Wendel and the Object Research Lab. Having met some years ago via a mutual friend, Anna Best, we met again at the CRESC social science conference in Manchester, at which the Object Research Lab ran a session offering encounters with objects including some blobs. I was one of three people Yvonne asked to take home one of these blobs to educate it. My pathetic efforts to carry out this commission are documented in my Educating the Blob blog.

If anyone is in doubt that this is a serious activity, please refer to the Lab's reading list here or read the work of object-oriented philosopher Graham Harman, who was a keynote in Manchester. The basic idea of the Lab's work, as I understand it, is to draw attention to objects and objectness, something that artists and designers already do, of course, but which social scientists tend to ignore, even the ones who make claims about methodologies that "follow the object". I like the extremes Yvonne takes this in her earlier work, for example, getting married to a piece of furniture and creating large objects like a big black blob and placing them in public situations. Her work has included collaborating with Anna Best and others to define and publish an Architecture of Interaction, an important attempt to articulate the underlying design elements in interactions.

This week, the other people Yvonne has invited include my Oxford colleague Noortje Marres and designer Jurgen Bey and digital artist/researcher Sher Doruff. I'm not sure what we'll be doing, other than trying to keep warm, but I hope to post something here.

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