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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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println(humanBehaviour); work in progress

println(humanBehaviour); work in progress

What can we learn from observations of the everyday? As designers, we are keen to explore the political power of small scale actions and how the recognition of others’ idiosyncrasies can facilitate an understanding of another.

Making the Familiar Strange

Studying habitual behaviour led to the discovery that by meddling with learnt and unconscious actions or disrupting ordinary interactions, you can trigger and enable a state of novelty or strangeness – thereby acting as a catalyst for instigating communication and encounters that might not otherwise have taken place.

Through participation in these orchestrated experiences, individuals’ idiosyncratic behaviour became foregrounded, establishing an opportunity for greater understanding on a personal and collective level. We found that even the most seemingly mundane actions, such as peeling an orange, conveyed a tremendous amount about each individual, in ways we had not anticipated.

The idea of ‘meaningful collaboration’ became a focal point of our investigations, as we began to see the power that embodied experience had on creating moments of connection between people (Meaningful collaboration we define as an active state in which collaborators gain an understanding of one another through dialogue (verbal, bodily, or otherwise). We continued to construct various situational installations that would trigger interpersonal exploration in different ways.

As the project developed we introduced an additional participant into the investigations – the computer – asking ourselves, what is the most important way we evaluate our experiences? Through feelings and embodied understanding or through computation and metrics?

‘Meaningful Collaboration’ in a New Era

With the presence of Covid-19 and what is widely being refered to as the ‘new normal’ of isolation and social distancing, we have had to shift the ways in which we consider what ‘meaningful collaboration’ is.

The movement to online work has forced us to consider what experimental collaboration looks like using digital tools and in online spaces.

We present our work in progress as two pieces. First, a video that uses footage from our investigations manipulated to suggest the difference between a human and technological understanding of human behaviour. Second, we present an interactive, collaborative performance discussion. Utilising live streaming tools, we modulate participants’ webcam feeds live, using a collaborative code-editor and Olivia Jack’s Hydra tool to live-code image manipulation whilst simultaneously describing the process and aims of the project. Participants are therefore free to interact with this format in whichever distinctly human ways they wish, with the result being broadcast live on Twitch.

Moving forward we aim to continue to investigate what constitutes ‘meaningful collaboration’, but now, exploring our current boundaries, we look to employ new methods of doing so – asking ourselves, can an embodied (rather than intellectualised) understanding of complex concepts still exist when we are no longer co-located?

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