How can the very creation, rendering, and experiencing of biological data be distinctly feminist? For example, how can it start from women's lives in all our plurality and complexity, break down binaries such as objectivity/subjectivity and science/feminism, and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of our bodies - a kind of knowing that is in and of the world?
Heart rate data may seem like a counterintuitive choice as an entry point into these questions. The monitored heart rate can be very mechanistic and even disciplinary: the persistent mechanical beeping during surgery (Kneebone, 2017), the fetal heartbeat of anti-choice politics (Edgar, 2017), monitors that can spur excessive intervention in childbirth (Cartwright, 1998), and even fitness monitors that incite increased intensity in exercise (Pirkko & Pringle, 2006: 59). Heart rate can be a site of plural layers of "control by quantification" (Browne, 2015: 9). Yet the heart remains ambiguous and undisciplined. In times of emotional intensity, a racing heart rate can feel very much out of control. At the same time, we can feel our own heartbeat, and that of others with whom we are intimate. In this manner, heart rate offers an accessible route into engaging with our bodies. This mundaneness and accessibility, in turn, makes it less likely that data about the heart could mechanize subjectivity the way that data about, say, the brain might. The heart's pace is at once most intimate and personal, while simultaneously deeply connected to others and the outside world. Creatively engaged, heart rate can offer an intriguing point of departure for feminist engagement with the entangled nature of data, matter, and meaning both in theory and practice.
Design and Social Justice Studio brings an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students together to examine the experiential and participatory dimensions of digital media and their relationship to establishing and supporting democratic forms of social interaction. Research at the studio spans both theoretical inquiry and experimental design, situated at the intersection of Design, the Humanities, and Human Computer Interaction. We design and investigate a variety of design products and services (e.g., locative media, visualizations and mapping, policy media, social and educational media) drawing on a range of design methods and strategies, most notably participatory and co-design methods, ethnographic methods, and experimental designs.
Projects are often in collaboration with other units on campus, other schools, as well as local non-profit organizations. Among current collaborators are Schools of Public Policy and Electrical Engineering at Georgia Tech; the iSchool at the University of British Columbia; Mayo Clinic; and local organizations such as Marcus Autism Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Fulton County Department of Health, and Central Atlanta Progress.