Soma}News – Jan/Feb 2014

February 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

Hello! Today I’m kicking off a more newsy approach to the E}V blog reflecting ongoing interests in the overlaps between art/design, science, dataviz and the body. Your comments, shares or suggestions are warmly welcome. 

This Finnish research project about the body and self-reported emotions was the main interest in January. See my review here.

Selfie City

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Art and Illness Symposium: What does illness feel like?

January 16, 2013 § 6 Comments


For the vast majority of us, illness is where life and death meet. It’s a guarantee that even if we ourselves don’t get seriously sick soon one of our loved ones will. Knowing a little of what to expect and trying to imagine that will prepare us and help us be more compassionate if our mother, say, screams random obscenities at us. Or we ourselves might find strength knowing that this indescribable agony is shared with countless others. I know it did for me. I hope this post may be of some value to even one person who may feel confused or misunderstood right now. The speakers gave so much of their time to the symposium (more here) that I hope to do a little justice to them here. « Read the rest of this entry »

What I learned from ‘The Experience of Illness: Learning from the Arts – a Symposium’ at University College Cork, 2012.

January 4, 2013 § 2 Comments


Roundtable Discussion

The reductionist methods of science, so well taught to physicians, need to be linked with an imaginative investigation of our patients’ experience.– David H Alpers

Without exception, everyone’s lives are somehow or other effected by illness. It is a pressing concern to develop understanding of, and therefore empathy for the ill, which leads to better care. Empathy involves being able to put oneself in another’s shoes and to actively imagine their experience. To do so we must understand the experience in detail. However, the ill have greatly reduced verbal capacities and verbal language cannot fully describe pain and experience. So communication methods must go beyond words to better describe experience. « Read the rest of this entry »

What is Universal Design?

November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

2010 theme: Technology in the City. Seminar held at the Radisson.

Ireland’s wracked by frustration at its inept government this week but after a day with the professionals of the National Disability Authority, I have more faith in the public servants than the bumbling leadership. Donal Rice and Barbara Schmidt-Belz summed it up: ‘Bad design excludes’ they say and quote Victor Papanek that ‘Good design applies to all people’.

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Colours from the Blind Man

November 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I found this fascinating article in The Observer today about Sargy Mann; “The Best Blind Painter in Peckham”. Unlike the amazing John Bramblitt of Texas, who paints by touch and only began after losing his vision, Sargy lived his years painting from perfect vision up to 36 years old  and all the way along the slow loss of sight over twenty years later. « Read the rest of this entry »

Helen Thomas / Jen Tarr – Dance injuries

September 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

In order to examine the social contexts around dancers who experience pain and injuries, researchers from London College of Fashion used a 3D body scanner along with interviews. The project, Pain and Injury in a Cultural Context, Dancers’ Embodied Understanding and Visual Mapping asked  200 subjects to map current and past pain and injury sites onto the their own body scan. The same technology is being used at Hull University to measure the changing size of Britain’s children.

Fleshmaps – Studies of Desire

September 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Fleshmaps is an ‘artistic study’ by the famous data visualisation duo of Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, who have recently joined Google. This project  was completed in 2008 and was one of the first I noticed to use Mechanical Turk as a way of surveying a large sample online. The result shows intensity of desire points, both ‘to be touched’ and ‘to touch’ for male and female. To gather the data, they asked questions relating to 707 points on the body, with more dense collections of points in the anticipated areas of interest. Check out the “look” and “Listen” areas also, as there are some really quirky stuff there. My favourite for simplicity sake are the hairs around male’s nipples. Check out the Music and Rebus sections too – slightly grotesque bubbles of bodies interact with genres and poetry.

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