SEMINAR 3 - Digital Immateriality: Techno-social & Usership Models of Practice 
19th October 2018 
Dr Jon Pengelly  

Central theme is how we engage as practitioners with the digital as a physical exstantiation through various tools or as a virtual representation of our practice (or the projection of our practice) into the world around us. 
Our terms of reference for artistic objects are enlarged in terms of the world around us, socially and culturally. 
The paper is an exploration into how we process (or come to terms with) within our own practice, these digital tools, opportunities and conceptions that the digital throws up. 
Three main areas that will touch on today: 
New Models of Making, Distribution & Consumption 
Challenge to Notions of Usership, Expertise & Agency 
Things | Objects Contextual Specificity 
Stephen Wright in “Toward a Lexicon of Usership” (2013) represents a challenge to the way we have practices in the past and challenges at least three cornerstones of the conceptual institutions in contemporary culture: Spectatorship, Expert Culture (we are sitting in an institution that embodies this ‘expert culture’), and Ownership. 
Usership presents a challenge to ownership, in the current digital climate with user-generated content, i.e. posted images on Facebook, being expropriated by the companies who own/control the digital platforms. 
As well as this though new technology is offering up alternatives to traditional ‘norms’ design, producing a shift away from Design for Manufacturing (20th Century model), towards a Manufacturing for Design (21st Century model). This movement gives way for new conceptual freedoms and for the possibility of on demand ready made products and services, personalised choices on how objects may look or how may arrive.  
Can be seen as the Democratisation of design and the industrial manufacturing sector.  
Eric von Hippel Democratizing Innovation (2005). 
Notions of cultural mass market and multiple one-off's.  
Conceptual specificity will inform how we make, or what our made objects will be. Objects will be invested in by what the creators experience is or would be, and perhaps what environment the object is made in. Location, circumstances, environment will inform what that object is, or seeks to be. 
Projekt Bauhaus - worth looking at.  
“Artists have always been early adopters or counter-experts". Lucy Skaer ‘Inkblots’. 
C2 Chair, use of algorithm to design, each iteration is different, producing multiple-unique objects.  
Geoffrey Mann, ex-student, and gave a Guest at Gray’s. Moth Lightshades. 
Digital environment is as free an environment as any other design environment, often seen that the ‘traditional’ methods have a wider scope for uniqueness, in the creation of one-off pieces, and digital is more seen as replication of multiples, but the scope is as wide. This is something that I have moved away from digital workflow due to the notion of wanting to pursue unique pieces, have I fallen victim to stereotypical views on the digital creation world? 
Following on from Geoffrey Mann’s work, is the jewellery maker Lionel Dean, his work every time it is made is a unique piece 3d printed in gold.  
Conditional Complexity: “So it might be easier to start to think about this new category of Digital Objects as having - Instances or Degrees of experiential ‘hardness’ or ‘softness’. Where uniqueness might be conditional rather than fixed - hardwired and ‘embodied’ within the very DNA or code of the artefact, based on contextual stimuli, data-sets or personal inflections which respond of building in personal narratives for example” - Geoff Mann 
Notion of Usership – How the digital, and certain digital platforms are vehicles in which usership can manifest itself increasingly in terms of challenging some of the structures, political norms and expertise. 
Use of technology to debunk some of the expertise models. Able to cut out need to speak to manufacturer, reduction of costs, able to make myself or find guides online to inform and gain skills to allow to make myself.   
Notions of ownership and authorship.  
How our time is commodified. How do we choose to spend our time, willingness to spend time spent filling out survey’s etc due to the time associated/required? 
Death of creative commons, predominance of areas of the web becoming ‘gated’ and ‘commodified’. 
Can digital technologies enable citizens to act on collectively shared issues? Can principles from online culture now inform new collective models around communal / shared values & recourses?  
Can media technologies bring about a greater sense of place and connection among citizens, and a feeling of ‘ownership’ of their environment? 
Objects having their own individual biographies, expressed through ownership. 
How am I using technology in my practice? 
What impact does ‘the digital’ have upon my practice? 

Personal Reflection: 
I feel that this raised some valid questions about my practice in terms of where digital technologies sat within it. Previously I have been using a mixture of digital and analogue photography, with often a preference for analogue. Often this preference has been outweighed by practicalities, often brought on by time constraints, that I have felt that I required to use digital cameras and editing, due to the extended process of film, with the development and an increased potential of errors.  
This is something that I feel that the masters may be an opportunity to move away from, and instead dedicate my time and effort to increasing my skills with the film process. This I feel will be important as the analogue process is often one that requires more set up, a slower method of working, and can allow for errors to creep in. These points are key I feel, for what I am looking to produce with the project, as if I were to use the large format (5x4) camera, it will require a more laborious set up, therefor allowing me to take in the surroundings more, and look for a more conceptually driven, constructed image, rather than a more instinctive reaction shot. This has benefits and drawbacks, the benefits are that the images should in theory, gel more with the concepts I am looking to delve into, and I should end up with a more concise set of images to illustrate the ideas. However, as I would be looking to construct the images, I may find that they are lacking the spontaneity that may have made me stop to set up the image in the first place. This is lessened somewhat, as I am looking to make landscape images, rather than images where there are ‘decisive’ moments, however there is a possibility that the images may feel empty. Part of the benefit of shooting a larger number of images, is there is a higher change of discovering a special image at the editing stage, in shooting on 5x4, the likelihood is that I will be only coming away with a dozen shots at most, and I will have a much more precise expectation of the images I will have at the end of it, than shooting either multiple rolls of film, or digital files. 
The second aspect that may be of greater benefit, will be the higher chance of the ‘happy accident’, due to an increased margin of potential failure. The failures often will be during the development, and/or the printing process, which often is ‘blind’ or with less input than the digital editing process, where each step of the edit is visible. This will allow an outcome where the workings of the development and printing are shown, which is often not the case in the digital edit. The potential downside however, is if as I have done in the past, where I strive for ‘perfect’ images, these margin for error may result is ‘accidents’ that don’t fit with the look I am after, and may result in a higher proportion of unused images. 
I may look at incorporating digital technologies in the documenting of my process, either through video blogs, or an online platform to document the project, my findings and the challenges presented. I feel video could be a useful tool for this, as it allows me to translate some of the sights, sounds and atmosphere of the locations to the viewers, in a method that may further complement the photographs. 
I own the book, Hertzian Tales – Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, which might fit into some of these ideas presented. I have currently lent this to Fi, but once I have it back, it may be worth delving further into it, if I wish to discover or question the ideas further, and delve deeper into the ramifications on my practice. 
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