What’s feeling got to do with Big Data?

September 26, 2016 § Leave a comment


April Greiman, Poster for Design Quarterly, 1986

My research interest in emotion stems from times when I was cut off from myself – “emotionally vague”. Without processing my feelings I could not connect the information signals between body and mind. I was often overloaded, drained and disconnected. Tai Chi and meditation helped to reduce anxiety and bring calm. Observing feeling-sensation informed the initial idea for the visual research. There’s an urgent need to weave understanding of feeling, time, place and feedback loops.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio explains how bodily sensations and feelings form a large part of how we perceive and filter experience. We need to understand these feedback loops and the reactions to events.In Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain he explains the system of substrates from which morality and ethics and are built.

Understanding data complexity also begins with awareness. Despite the illusion of a computer-knowing-head, our absorbent-feeling-body responds to sensory inputs with a substrate of tinted perceptions. The subconscious is continually influenced by ideologies, messages and branding.

The architects of our time ( engineers, policy-makers, culture-formers, enterprisers etc.), are not immune to these influences. We as consumers of technology are massively affected on individual and collective levels.

On this macro level, with technological acceleration the norm, how can the body of society process vast amounts of information? Governments and corporations are overloaded with data, now fully beyond any individual’s capacity. In this light, how will groups, communities and nations relate to their bodies, feelings, memories and each other? What will the role of user experience be in the future?

I’m interested in ways to process what’s happening using practical and embodied methods. It’s an exciting area and I’ll be heading to Amsterdam this week for the Design and Emotion 2016 conference.

If you are interested in this area or know of others who are developing tools to process experiences, please comment or drop me a line!


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