13 chapters from 15 interdisciplinary contributors

Each focuses on a different tactic of transmission, such as poetry, play, public engagement, sound, exhibitions, creative writing, performance, catalogues, interactive machines, century old costume, digital platforms and more.

Authors put words, images, objects and experiences into different machines and explore what happens.

Published by MIT Press

Introducing - Kat Jungnickel

In this edited collection we explore theoretically underpinned and cutting-edge creative and arts-based practice with thought-provoking representational forms and flows of research. Our collective interdisciplinary curiosity is sparked by the critical relationship these combined components offer for doing research differently.

This first chapter is open access. Download it here – Transmissions- introduction

Poetry & Writing - Laura Watts

Laura Watts draws attention, in a poem, to the inherent poetics in academic writing. Her ethnographic research on renewable energy in Orkney, Iceland, and Denmark is animated in lyrical combinations and rhythms. While she is comfortable in this expression—“I was using a poetic apparatus as part of my terraforming experiment”—she notes how unsettling it can be for others. Who are you, they ask, when she engages in this practice: “Are you an academic over here, or a poet over there?”

Machines for Enquiring - Julien McHardy & Kat Jungnickel

McHardy and Jungnickel discuss attempts to physically construct a device that takes literally the idea of enquiring as machines with particular materialities and capabilities. We approach the question of “how making things can help us to make sense of things” with a range of tools and sites, such as angle grinders, welders, cable ties, backyards, and scavenged bike parts.

Extra resources:

This chapter is available as an OPEN ACCESS POSTER
Small version (1.2mb) – Transmission – EM poster SM
Large version (18mb) – Transmission – EM poster
Enquiry Machine #1 – The Interview Machine
EM#1 in Hackney video
EM#1 making video
Julien Mchardy website

Making & Wearing - Kat Jungnickel

Jungnickel’s chapter on making and wearing research takes as its focus a collection of Victorian women’s convertible cycling costumes inspired by 1890s British patents. Wearing research like this is not easy. Multilayered woollen costumes are often hot, sometimes embarrassing, prone to malfunction, and in need of ongoing maintenance. They also add new data, surprise and delight in different forms. Jungnickel explores what making and communicating research in intimate three-dimensional form brings to research.

Exchanging - Max Liboiron

Liboiron closely examines “the ethics of reciprocity” and uses exchange as a method in her chapter to invite readers into an experiment in valuation. Here, the process of exchange becomes a mechanism to further unsettle divisions between the researcher and participant and in turn deepens understandings of value and valuation.

Playing - Larissa Hjorth & Ingrid Richardson

Hjorth and Richardson discuss intersections of ethnography, art, and play in an Australian project, “Games of Being Mobile”. After spending years investigating mobile games as part of the broader social and media ecology within household relations, they invited young people and families to design new games and to think about the relationship between digital and nondigital genealogies in public spaces. In this way, participants become artists via playful interventions and games installed in museums and outside in urban public spaces.

Living with - Kristina Lindström & Åsa Ståhl

This chapter focuses on a collaborative project involving a series of walks on remote Icelandic beaches, sending participants home with their own worms; beach bonfires; and dinner parties in Reykjavik and Westfjords in Iceland. Many of these events emerged in the process of doing speculative design research with and about humans and nonhuman participants. The authors critically reflect on how these events and practices gave shape to multiple un/expected happenings in public.

Slowing - Nerea Calvillo

Calvillo discusses the role of a collaboratively designed visualization platform that measures pollution. Circulation and use of the device did not proceed as expected and she asks if dimensions of success and failure are matters of perspective and speed. “Can we address a systemic urgency in slow modes? Very cleverly, Calvillo slows down the reading of her argument through spacing of the paragraphs. She also draws attention to the emotional and physical labor involved in managing transmissions with different velocities, noting “feelings that are hardly spoken about in collaborative practices.”

Writing Out of Turn - Sarah Kember

Kember writes about science fiction writing, that doesn’t fit easily with academic or literary establishments. It is hard to categorize, and she queries conventional binaries and boundaries. She includes an excerpt from “A Day in the Life of Janet Smart” as a mode of making and doing feminist media and STS. Writing like this, out of turn, she argues, produces a space of ambiguity where different things can happen.

Performing & Provoking - Janis Jefferies

Jefferies investigates transmission from the perspective of the viewer —from looking and listening, stripping naked, sitting and standing, to talking and playing. She takes readers on a journey through different museums and shows, from the Barbican and Tate Modern in London to SaVAge K’lub in Brisbane, Australia, via series of scenes. Experiences are shaped by materials, sites, performers, and other participants. These combinations create points of attachment for viewers, who bring their own cultural and political ideas and bodies into the work.

Resonating - Alexandra Lippman

Lippman takes an ethnographic approach to her study of weekly bailes (dances) in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Her thick description of funk carioca (Rio funk) is rich in visceral detail, and yet her participants made her question how it is possible to convey the feeling of music. In response to what she felt was a limitation of text, she founded the Sound Ethnography Project and discusses what the combination of sound recordings and writing offers sensory research practices.

Cataloging - Bonnie Mak & Julia Pollack

Mak and Pollack investigate the history of (meta)data archiving, which brings to light how different taxonomic systems shape ways of thinking and knowing—a topic that is often dematerialized in information system discussions. They focus on the card catalog system, theoretically and materially. Further to a discursive critique of linear systems of power, they “offer a compelling materiality by which description or metadata may be studied” via a series of printed cards that invites the reader to perform, interpret, and scrutinize this mode of transmission.

Responding - Rebecca Coleman

Kember writes about science fiction writing, that doesn’t fit easily with academic or literary establishments. It is hard to categorize, and she queries conventional binaries and boundaries. Writing like this, out of turn, produces a space of ambiguity where different things can happen.