While watching Jenny Odell introduce here how she simply goes and walks around to observe her surroundings, to internalize her new environment– I found myself recognizing how I have a similar method of observation. I resonate with this idea that sometimes, it makes more sense to just step out and have a look around with a general curiosity for things whether they be about design or people or location. My mind remembers more about a place or city when I can stand on a corner and register that “this is the corner I live on” versus looking at it’s digital counterpart on google maps.
“Place” carries meaning when I am in “it,” and usually only thereafter. By this method is how I “map out” and discover fully, any new place that I enter. I can read maps and understand them, but they give me no more than indication or generalization of a certain space. All frame of reference on a map is suddenly lost when I turn 180 degrees… so I prefer to be up close, to know what it means to “enter a new space and suddenly all of the buildings look different” because that gives me sense of place by feel and movement, by color and mood or language and style. I can recall the size of a building, the shape of that one tree, or type the patio furniture of a cafe much easier than I could give you an intersection or address.
Ex) Despite traveling through South America IRL, as I moved across its 3D images on google for our most recent project, I became frustrated because I knew the image I wanted to harvest, but I did so with great difficulty; not fulling knowing how to navigate from “up above” or north to south rather than “by and through” in car or on foot, by sight and sense.
In another talk, Odell speaks to the experience of “using technology to augment elements of the human experience rather than flattening it or replacing it.”
I am inspired by her point here– how so much of technology can be easily criticized but she chooses, instead to let it empower her artistic drive. To provide the world with a more conscious reaction to these “media effects.” I believe I am in media studies for a similar reason. By understanding media & technology and how it functions to serve us (or not serve us) I am able to “re-enter” the world in a more informed way. I become more comfortable with technology because I know that it can be perceptible and detectible.
I immediately drew the comparison to my experience of wearing a hybrid prosthetic-orthotic piece of technology, my exosym. This device enables me a physical experience of the world that I might not otherwise have without it. It enables me a new identity. It enables me a new point of advocacy for people with disabilities. Technology is a perceptual prosthesis in every sense because it can provide us with the means to subject ourselves to new realities and new experiences. The same goes for my exosym. I am more abled-bodied as I wear it and when I put it on, I enter a new space and a new category of “disability” according to how others perceive me. I am “recovering” versus “congenital.” I am an “injured athlete” versus “one with CP.”
Had I “escaped” this new, bionic reality the moment it became too hard and difficult to process, I might never reached this comparison with Jenny Odell’s work and understanding over her own artistry.