Digital Culture Speaker Series: Soma Design — Intertwining Aesthetics, Ethics and Movement
Bio: Kristina Höök is a full professor in interaction design at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), in Stockholm, Sweden. Höök is a frequent keynote speaker, known for her work on social navigation, seamfulness, mobile services, affective interaction and lately, designing for bodily engagement in interaction through somaesthetics. Her competence lies mainly in interaction design and user studies helping to form design. Höök has obtained numerous national and international grants, awards, and fellowships including the Cor Baayen Fellowship by ERCIM (European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics) for her thesis work in 1997, the INGVAR award from the Strategic Research Foundation (SSF) in 2004, she is an ACM Distinguished Scientist since 2014, and she is an ACM distinguished speaker.
Abstract: Höök will discuss soma design — a process that allows designers to examine and improve on connections between sensation, feeling, emotion, subjective understanding and values. Soma design builds on pragmatics and in particular on somaesthetics by Shusterman — combining soma as in our first person sensual experience of the world, with aesthetics as in deepening our knowledge of our sensory experiences to live a better life. Soma design engages with bodily rhythms, touch, proprioception, bodily playfulness, but also with our values, meaning-making processes, emotions, ethics and ways of engaging with the world. Soma design also provides methods for orchestration of the "whole," emptying the digital and physical materials of all their potential, thereby providing fertile grounds for meaning-making and engagement. Soma design is imbued with ideals of what a better life might be.
In her talk, she will discuss how aesthetics and ethics are enacted in a soma design process. Cultural practices and digitally-enabled objects enforce a form of sedimented, agreed-upon movements, enabling variation, but with certain prescribed ways to act, feel and think. This leaves designers with a great responsibility as these become the movements that we invite our end-users to engage with, in turning shaping them, their movements, their bodies, their feelings and thoughts. She will argue that by engaging in a soma design process we can better probe which movements lead to deepened somatic awareness; social awareness of others in the environment and how they are affected by the technology-human assemblage; enactments of bodily freedoms rather than limitations; and aesthetic experience and expression.