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Soma Design – Intertwining Aesthetics, Ethics and Movement

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Sep 22

Title: Soma Design – Intertwining Aesthetics, Ethics and Movement
Date and time: Sep 22 2020, 3pm – 4pm
Speaker: Kristina Höök

Picture of Kristina HöökAbstract: I 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. It combines 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. In my talk, I will discuss how aesthetics and ethics are enacted in a soma design process. Our 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 great responsibility, as these become the movements that we invite our end-users to engage with, in turning to shape them, their movements, their bodies, their feelings and thoughts. I 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 human-technology assemblage; enactments of bodily freedoms rather than limitations; making norms explicit; engage with a pluralist feminist position on who we are designing for; and aesthetic experience and expression.

Bio: Kristina Höök is a professor in Interaction Design at the Royal Institute of Technology and also works part-time at RISE. Höök has published numerous journal papers, books and book chapters, and conference papers in highly renowned venues. A frequent keynote speaker, she is 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. She has obtained numerous national and international grants, awards, and fellowships including the Cor Baayen Fellowship by ERCIM (European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics), the INGVAR award, she is an ACM Distinguished Scientist and elected ACM SIGCHI Academy.