Kat Jungnickel

ESRC Knowledge Exchange Grant – ‘Bikes & Bloomers’ launch event

Collaborations, Transmissions & Entanglements

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The exhibition launch of the ‘Freedom of Movement: the bike, bloomer and female cyclist in late C19th Britain’ (or Bikes & Bloomers for short) was held at Look Mum No Hands, a popular bike cafe, bar and workshop in a fantastically central London location on Friday 13th June, starting at 7pm.

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We had set up the main parts of the exhibition the night before. This included the automaton and display boards, vintage sewing machine and sewn banner. On the day we added to the display with ceiling hung spools of colourful thread, smaller versions of the digitally printed silk linings by Alice and extra costume pieces for the automaton.

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The automaton was specifically designed to ensure the clothing was on display on a mobile female body. It was imperative, given the project was about the freedom of movement, that the garments did not just simply hang motionless on a headless ‘mannequin’.

This is because from a Science & Technology Studies (STS) perspective I view clothing as a technology. Clothing is a means through which bodies are made to fit with new technologies and become mobile. Mobility technologies are symbols of modernity. They are also the means through which bodies are made modern. Yet some bodies are more easily made mobile (and modern) than others! Looking at cycle wear as a technology offers a way of seeing how it both enables and also inhibits movement – physical, as as well as ideological. And looking at women’s cycle wear presents new ways of thinking about gendered mobility and citizenship.

So I worked with a architect, model maker/carpenter and two engineers to build a full sized interactive cycling womanequin whose legs were powered by a turn of a hand crank. In addition, the team built a series of display boards and extra semi-automated features such as flying birds.

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Things started to get busy in the afternoon of the launch – with the arrival of the screen printers who were preparing to live screen print a series of cycling suffragette images onto t-shirts for people throughout the night. This was another way of involving bodies in the research – of literally getting the project onto bodies. (I’ve been doing this throughout the year with bloomer making workshops!)

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The live screen printed shirts proved very popular – apparently the printing people didn’t stop all night. We chose and/or made images that reflected social and cultural ideas about what a woman should be like on a bike, the changing body shapes of women as they shifted into more ‘Rational Dress’ (away from corsets) and other similar period imagery.

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t-shirts

Meanwhile the research team and collaborators were busy preparing for the performance, tinkering on the exhibition or doing some very last minute adjustments. We were picking threads off each other all night  – the garments were hot off the machine!

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All the garments – 24 fully lined hand made pieces not counting accessories in the form of hat bands and scarves  – were on the rail ready to wear.

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We dressed at 7pm, had final rehearsals and mingled with the growing crowd.

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It was amazing to see the costumes had finally come together after months of vary hard work. There were five in total (from left to right): Annette was wearing a patented costume by Madame Julia Gill, I was in Alice Louisa Bygrave’s convertible skirt, Rachel was wearing Frances Henrietta Muller’s design and Lan-Lan was in the Pease sisters skirt/cape. The fifth ensemble, Mary Ward’s ‘Hyde Park Safety Skirt’ was worn by the automaton in the window. It was fantastic that all the women wearing the costumes were cyclists and involved in the development of the project in some way.

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Food was served.

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Full house!

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The terrific thing about LMNH’s location is how the event brought together not only lots of cycling, sewing and sociologists but also people who just happened to be there on the night or who walked past and thought we looked interesting.

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I talked about changing ideas of women’s mobile bodies in public space at the turn of the last century – about dress reform, suffrage activities, advent of the ‘safety’ bike and the shifting social and cultural conditions that created the conditions for the invention of convertible cycle wear.

I explained a little about why we drew on cycle wear patents lodged by women for women in the 1890s and why we considered them to be  fascinating design objects – ie. they define the problem they then attempt to solve, all the while providing a glimpse into the social/cultural context and step by step instructions for how to re-make the artefacts.

I introduced the five convertible cycle wear garments we had chosen to make from 120 year old patents – garments that represented a particular flashpoint in history when women were carving out new forms of gendered mobile citizenship via an intersection of design, technology, bodies, public space and political activism. Convertible cycle wear gave the appearance of ‘ordinary’ dress off the bike, yet could be converted into safer, more comfortable form when on the bike.

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I was wearing a ‘Bygrave convertible skirt’. Alice Louisa Bygrave lodged the patent in the UK on 1st November 1895 and it was accepted on 6th December 1895. (Yes – quick turn around!). What’s fascinating about Alice is that she lodged the same patent in Canada and Switzerland. It is an unusual story in that we were able to trace her invention from the patent office to a commercial context. In 1896 her invention was picked up and distributed by Jaeger, the British fashion house, under her name – the Bygrave ‘Convertible’ Skirt  – and was advertised in popular periodicals such as ‘The Lady Cyclist’ and ‘The Queen’.

“My invention relates to improvements in ladies’ cycling skirts and the object is to provide a skirt as proper for wear when the wearer is on her cycle as when she has dismounted.”

The patented skirt features a interconnected series of stitched channels, clips, cords, rings, weights and a hidden pulley system enable the wearer to change the skirt height according to need.

I also talked about how in researching Alice’s life we discovered that she came from a family of watch and clock makers, professional cyclists and dressmakers. It is therefore not hard to see why her patent features well considered deliberately concealed technologies that enable it to operate.

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We handed out specially printed series of cards – one for each of the cycling costumes. Each told stories about the inventors, unique characteristics of their patented garment and the influences/contents of its design. They featured a die cut of a woman’s body and the audience was encouraged to hold up the cards and place each of our colourful live dressed bodies into a black and white contextual Victorian photo. There was much jostling and smiling as everyone got into the spirit of the piece!

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Instead of just talking about the patents and the inventors, the performance adopted an interview structure. Drawing on our genealogical and archival research from the past year, we sought to bring to life each of these characters and enable them to speak in their own words, to put real bodies back into patent archives and history.

I started by interviewing Annette in the character of Madame Julia Gill who invented a ‘Cycling Costume for Ladies’ in 1895. Annette/Julia told us about her life as a Court dressmaker, her middle and upper class clientele, what fashionable high society lady cyclists were wearing on their bikes and where they were cycling and also the range of influences (new media, new materials, new technologies etc) that she was drawing on to produce her designs.

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“The skirt is made with an underlayer of the same material or other kind which when turned up is drawn in at the waist with a cord run through, rings, tapes or eyelet holes &c. which then forms a semi-skirt, the under piece forming a frill and giving the appearance of a jacket bodies. When the wearer gets off the cycle the skirt drops into place as n ordinary walking skirt.”

“My invention has for its object to provide a suitable combination costume for lady cyclists, so that they have a safe riding garment combined with an ordinary walking costume for use when dismounted.”

Annette/Julia asked if we wanted to see the inventive qualities of her cycling skirt patent. With an enthusiastic ‘Yes’ from the audience, she demonstrated how the lower skirt flounce cleverly concealed a ribbon threaded through a row of  rings. Gathering the ribbon and lower skirt up and around her waist  formed a double peplum with the jacket and which removed the danger of the skirts being caught in the bicycle wheels.  This action also revealed Alice’s beautiful linings which again told stories of Madame Julia Gill’s life and her patent.

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The patent by Frances Henrietta Müller of Meads, Maidenhead was next. Rachel, in character as Frances, told us how she registered a patent for ‘Improvements in Ladies’ Garments for Cycling and other Purposes’ on 30th May 1896. She was 50 years old. Frances Henrietta Müller was a passionate and prominent women’s rights activist and suffragette. She devoted her life to the advancement of women’s freedom of movement in all spheres; such as agitating for equal pay for equal work in 1883 and promoting contraception to free women from continual child-bearing in 1884. She is also renown for founding and editing ‘The Women’s Penny Paper’ 1888-1893.

“These improvements consist in the form and combination of three separately constructed articles of ladies’ costume, so made as to afford special faculty and convenience when cycling.”

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Although well known as a British suffragette, Frances’s history of patenting convertible cycle wear has not, until now, been linked to her other considerable achievements.

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Lan-Lan took to the stage as Mary Elizabeth Pease, telling us that her older sister Sarah Ann was out cycling. They are gentlewomen living with their family in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Their patent consisted of a full wrap around skirt that could be converted into a cycling cape. This is the most radical design out of the collection in that the skirt completely comes away from the body. It transforms into a cape with the waistband converting into a high ruché collar. It could also be attached to the bicycle.

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“The rational dress now greatly adopted by lady cyclists has one or two objections inasmuch that when the lady is dismounted her lower garments and figure are too much exposed.”

“This invention thus far is of importance to lady cyclists. It is preferable to make it of light waterproof or rainproof material of reverse colours, say a check and a plain to suit or approach the usual colour of garments generally work, so that on dismounting if the article be in wear as a cape its removal and securing round the waist would be in a few moments convert[ed] it into skirt without making the wearer unlike others in the vicinity”.

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I finished the talk/performance with many thanks to:

Rachel Pimm – Research Assistant

Nadia Constantinou – Pattern Cutter
Alice Angus – Artist – aliceangus.net 
Nikki Pugh – Researcher – npugh.co.uk
Annette-Carina van der Zaag – Researcher and Sewing Assistance
Brit Hatzius – Filmmaker  – brithatzius.co.uk
Charlotte Barnes – Photographer  – charlottebarnes.com
James Fraser – Automaton Display  – Architect, MORA – moraworkshop.com
Rupert Fisher – Automaton Display – Allies and Morrison Architects  – alliesandmorrison.com
Edwin Knight and John Gray – Automaton Display

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The research, exhibition and opening was supported by Goldsmiths, Intel and the Economic and Social Research Council.

It was a brilliant evening and wonderful way to end a project and the four day ‘Live Transmissions‘ event.

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Experiments in (and out of) the studio: Art and design methods for science and technology studies.

Collaborations, Enquiry Machines, Workshop

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Written by Julien McHardy and Kat Jungnickel

Every four years the US based Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) host a joint conference. The 2012 edition of the discipline’s largest conference took place in October at the Copenhagen Business School under the theme of ‘Design and Displacement: Social studies of science and technology’. Science and technology (STS) scholars, particularly in the Scandinavian tradition, have long been interested in design as an explicit intersection of technological and social construction. In science and technology, ‘design’ implies the re-arrangement of materials and ideas for innovative purposes. When newly designed scientific and technical objects enter the world, however, their initial purposes are often displaced. For decades, STS researchers have been following the practical and political dimensions of science and technology. By focusing on concepts and practices of scientific and technological design at their sites of construction and on their multiple displacements the 2012 conference continues this tradition. By bringing together ‘design’ and ‘displacement’ we want to highlight how scientific and technological design engages with existing socio-technical arrangements in both planned and unplanned ways, facilitating both collaborations and contestations, and generating both order and disorder. (For more see: http://easst.net)

Drawing on the conference theme and a long standing interest in the intersection of design, art and science and technology studies (STS), Nina Wakeford from Studio Incite at Goldsmith University and Alex Taylor from Microsoft Research Cambridge invited proposals for an experimental pre-conference workshop. Whereas STS scholar’s traditionally have taken design practices as their subject the proposed workshop aimed to explore how STS could not only study design practices but learn from the ways in which designers and artist do research. Confronting design and art practices with those of STS research is still a novel approach but the implication that research can be understood as an explicit intervention resonates with work in the feminist tradition that often emphasises that research always interferes with its subject. (Those who are interested in this field might find it worth to check out the new MA in Visual Sociology at Goldsmith University).

Intrigued by the opportunity to explore how methods that are traditionally associated with art and design practices can contribute to the study of science and technology Kat Jungnickel (Sociology, Goldsmith University), Laura Forlano (Design, Illinois Institute of Tech) and Julien McHardy (Lancaster University) applied. They where shortlisted alongside Dehlia Hannah (Philosophy, Columbia University) and Hannah Star Rogers’ (STS, University of Virginia) proposal and asked to organize a joint interdisciplinary one-day event.

Putting together an event with people that you don’t know and who are spread out across two continents and a range of disciplines was certainly challenging. A flood of emails send across three time zones later, and only two weeks prior to the event the call for participants went out. We invited participation in an interdisciplinary one day hands-on workshop on emerging methods of critical practice in science and technology studies, in particular methods that engage with art and design as well as performance and exhibition. We aimed to refine our understanding and also intervene in the way that objects can stimulate and embody critique in STS. Despite the tight timing we were quickly oversubscribed with a diverse range of international applicants from art, design, architecture, sociology, anthropology, engineering and philosophy. Now is the time to thank all those folk that joint us for the workshop, the funders and the team for making it such a delightful day.

The following is an overview of the day.

Early on the 16th of October a colourful group of participants found their way through the aptly coliseum themed atrium of the Copenhagen Business School’s Solbjerg Plads campus to one of the new, bare concrete and glass lecture theatres. After a good round of traditionally bad conference coffee Nina Wakeford, Alex Taylor and the team gave a brief welcome and introduced the plan of the day.

11-12.30 – Session 1: Creative Epistemologies

12.30-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.30: Session 2 – Urban Explorations

14.30-16.30: Session 3 – Enquiry Machines

16.30-17.00: Group presentations

17.00-17.30: Wrap up

 

Session One: Creative Epistemologies

The morning section of the workshop introduced critical and interpretive practices from history, philosophy, anthropology and interdisciplinary science and technology studies and considered how STS scholars are engaging with art and design. The morning session, led by Dehlia started the day with a talk and participant discussion on ‘Creative Epistemologies’. (Unfortunately Hanna was unwell, so Dehlia presented on her own).

 

Drawing on examples from history, philosophy, anthropology, art and science and technology studies Dehlia discussed the role of artifacts in the production of techno-scientific knowledge.  She presented examples from her’s and Hannah’s research on bio-art, synthetic biology, scientific photography, and artworks that take the form of scientific experiments, and drew the audience into a discussion of how such artworks resonate with the concerns of STS and raised the questions:

–       What kinds of theoretical approaches shall we bring to bear on artworks that inflect our traditional object of study?

–        How do artifacts and performances embody new ways of understanding science?

–       How might science and technology studies benefit from the adoption of practice-based methods that the arts and sciences have in common?

As a preparation for the hands-on activities of the rest of the day, Dehlia then shifted the discussion from the interpretation of artworks to the creation and design of artifacts. This provided an opportunity to consider the distinctions and the dialectical relationships between art and design as well as critical interpretation and critical making.

Dehlia discussed the concept of a “performative experiment” and related her experience stepping out of the philosophical armchair and into the role of the experimental subject as part of the ongoing Xenopus frog Pregnancy Test research project, and also talked about Hannah’s use of electro-conductive paint in teaching engineering students. Workshop participants were invited to share examples of their own methods and work. Together we started to articulate some of the central aims, questions and challenges of art and design-based methodologies in STS.

Part of this session involved a round of introductions, which turned out to be an exciting demonstration of the unusual and interesting range of disciplines the workshop attracted. Most of the participants already bridged several disciplines within their own work. Many agreed later that it was delightful to be in a space where cross and interdisciplinary work of some sort was considered standard practice rather than an exception that requires justification.

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Lunch

Refreshments were provided by the canteen in the Business School and provided a chance to sit and talk with new people.

 

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Session 2: Urban Ethnography

Drawing on Dehlia and Hannah’s more theoretical introduction Laura’s session explored the neighbourhood surrounding the Copenhagen Business School. Participants swarmed out in teams of three people to explore three themes in pictures, sketches and notes:

1. The digitization of the city and digital materiality

– How are digital technologies shaping the everyday lives of people in the neighborhood?
– What kinds of digital technologies are present in the neighborhood i.e. artifacts, interfaces, infrastructures?

2. The values embedded in artifacts, interfaces and infrastructures

What does the relationship between technologies (including objects and the built environment), people and spaces tell you about the values of the city? How are values of privacy/surveillance, transparency/ opacity, individual/community and local/ global activities represented? Is there evidence of other kinds of values such as spontaneity, mystery and romance?

3. The visible and invisible histories of the neighbourhood.

What are the geographic and/or social boundaries of the neighborhood? What was this neighborhood in the past and what might it become in the future (based on signals gathered in urban exploration)?

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Participants were divided into subgroups including one note-taker, one photographer and one navigator as well as one Danish speaker. Laura provided Kato’s ‘Learning with Camera Phones’ for inspiration. They were briefed to take at least 100 photos, draw one sketch, create a map of their urban exploration and bring in one found object from the field. Participants contributed their data sets to the workshop documentation materials.

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This session worked to put into discussion (and practice) some of the ideas generated in the morning session and alleviate the post-lunch slump. Being able to walk around helped us re-energize in preparation for the afternoon session. We were also told that it provided a good opportunity to network with others in the group. The international and interdisciplinary composition of the group offered people a wide range of approaches and lenses to explore. Having a native Danish speaker also proved to be insightful in not only reading signs but also pointing out and explaining cultural nuance and practice that is often overlooked or misunderstood when briefly visiting a city.


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Session 3: Enquiry Machines

In the afternoon session we invited participants to build three dimensional models, or ‘Enquiry Machines’, to explore and present the ethnographic materials that they previously collected. While everyone was undertaking the ethnographic task, we prepared Enquiry Machine Toolkits –comprised of cardboard boxes filled with a plethora of found, borrowed and purchased materials and objects:

–       Recycled bicycle parts (chain, cogs, bell, inner tubes, spokes)

–       Stationery (glue, card, tape, pens, markers)

–       Tools (screwdriver, scissors, glue guns)

–       Objects (Styrofoam balls, twine, fabric, plastic sheets, cable ties)

Participants also returned with an impressive array of materials they had picked up in their travels; material, lamps, plastic and cardboard, old lamp fittings, springs and wire and more.

 

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Once everyone was settled, we introduced the ‘Machines of Enquiry’ research project. Enquiry Machines are a concept they developed to think about material interventions that make abstract ideas tangible and render visible the labour of knowledge. Locating it in STS and material cultural studies, they presented instantiations of the project and provided examples of other similar works to inspire participates to think about experimenting with ways of presenting or performing three dimensional arguments and ideas of research as a tangible intervention.

 

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The subgroups formed during the ethnographic session were invited to construct a machine of enquiry to assist their investigation and representation of a particular theoretical or methodological issue arising from their own research or discussion during the day. These ‘machines of enquiry’ offered a chance to model research insights as well as possible forms of intervention. This part of the session last two hours with participants working together to conceptualise and materialise ideas. There was a lot of productive noise and a lot of mess!


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Finally each subgroup presented, performed and demonstrated their machines to the group. The build objects ranged from reflections on working together, to an investigation of moments of ‘perplexity’ and tools for ethnographic and sensory exploration to a conference-kit that aimed to interfere in the strictly verbal and visual forms of presentation that dominated the following conference. The range of objects (and photos) provide some idea of the spirit of the workshop.


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The following are some of the ‘Machines of Enquiry’ produced by participants:

– Peceptofactors: Sensory enquiry devices – Look-out, Smell-Off and Listen-in

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 – Portable Office and Thinking Aid

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– The Conference Presenter / Audience Reciprocity Kit, including: No Idea Left Behind, The Epiphany Meter, The Boredom Bottle and The Presentation Penis

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Most participants ended the long day in the pub while the resulting machines of enquiry where stored in the porters lounge and exhibited during the opening sessions of the conference on the following day.

 

 Enquiry Machine Exhibition

Enquiry Machines were displayed and demonstrated in a public exhibition during the conference. Some even made their way into talks and panels.

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Zine

Read more about the event in the eight page ‘zine. (pdf here)

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page1  page2  page4  page3

 

Many thanks again to everyone involved.

Co-Organisers 

Dehlia Hannah  |  Chemical Heritage Foundation
Hannah Star Rogers  |  STS, University of Virginia
Julien McHardy  |  Sociology, Lancaster University
Kat Jungnickel  |  Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Laura Forlano  |  Insititute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology

Sponsors

Alex Taylor  | Microsoft Research Cambridge
Nina Wakeford  |  INCITE, Sociology, Goldsmiths

Participants 

Amanda Windle  |  London College of Communication
Ana Catharina Marques  | Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design
Angelos Balatsas-Lekkas  |  Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Bonnie Mak  |  Medieval Studies, University of Illinois
Charalampia Kerasidou  |  Sociology, Lancaster University
Ellen Balka  |  Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute
Garance Marechal  |  Management, University of Liverpool
Irene Lapuente  |  La Mandarina de Newton
Lea Schick  |  IT University of Copenhagen
Li Jönsson  |  Design, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Maria Foverskov  |  Design, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Max Liboiron  |  Media, Culture & Comms, New York University
Rasmus Michaëlis  |  The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Rivka Mayer  |  STS, Bar Ilan University Israel
Sarah Davies  |  Media, Cognition & Comms, Unversity of Copenhagen
Sissel Orlander  |  Design, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Tau Lenskjold  |  Design, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Yutaka Yoshinaka  |  Engineering, Technical University of Denmark

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Enquiry Machine #1: Hackney

Collaborations, Enquiry Machines, Films, Methods

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Enquiry Machine #1 was assembled and put to work in a Hackney street in East London. It was designed to (and sometimes does) explore the conversation of mechanics and the mechanics of conversation. It attracted the attention of passers-by who enquired as to its point and purpose. While some were interested in the workings of the dynamo light, others wanted to know the origin of its bicycle materials. One man assumed we were making some kind of political/environmental statement. Another thought we were busking. A meat worker, in blood stained white work coat with a gutted pig carcass over his shoulder stopped between the butcher shop and his van to watch. A car driver slowed and pointed us out to her child passengers. Three men stood smoking nearby and chatted about us. Others hurrying from or to the bus with full plastic shopping bags were not interested at all. Immune to strange happenings in Hackney they just walked past. Surprisingly, no-one tried to steal our camera.

www.enquirymachines.com
Music: Moduless by Paza
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives License
freemusicarchive.org/music/Paza/

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Enquiry Machine #1: Making

Collaborations, Enquiry Machines, Films, Methods

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Enquiry Machine #1 is an attempt to explore the conversation of mechanics and the mechanics of conversation. It is an assemblage of human, non-human and conceptual components:

– the bodies of 2 human operators
– cable ties
– parts from 5 discarded bikes
– curiosity about the material nature of enquiry
– sticky tape
– the melted wire of a mig welder
– concern within science and technology studies about the flattening of process
– a dynamo light
– brakes
– an interest in the making of mess
– a bell
– a horn
– pens
– bull clips

www.enquirymachines.com
Music: Hwy Chipmusic, Baud of Passion by xlk
CC License: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

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