In a world where digital practices are omnipresent, everything becomes measurable, including:
the number of:
steps we make, how many glasses of water we drink each day or even what is one’s level of happiness.
Self quantification inhabits everyday practices, it becomes a daily game where our body is envisioned as a set of number and charts that are supposed to coach us towards a “better life”.
Self-quantification is at the origin of forms of body representations that blur the boundaries between what is usually considered direct social control (measuring and quantification) and other forms of spectacle where bodies are constrained in aesthetic modeled forms and visualised as charts.
Considering the body as a set of information it apropriates our relation towards it to a corporate benefit and anhilates other knowledges.
With the goal of accessing feminist knowledges instead of corporate charts I engaged the women and free software group of Brussles: Samedies to explore how the difference between community health support groups and commercial social networks is put forward by the corporations that develop self tracking applications. We have developed our own interfaces and tools and came up with a series of small games that propose a different approach, both feminist and collective practices.
As Sensing technology is everywhere from sports and health to surveillance, it contributes to a new aesthetics and a different representation of body through it’s data. Body related digital measures take place in social platforms that are collectively organizing an aesthetics of mapping body information. Those digibodies (Flanagan 2003) seem to target a specific aesthetics and a representational endeavor that encompasses a completeness of representation, and categorization that needs to be addressed.
Our Objectives are to build a protocol for establishing a diffracted relation to our mobile devices, via interfacing existing sensors towards collective interfaces and temporary autonomous playgrounds.
Participation and empowerment in the online health monitoring processes seem to strongly correlate to an already set agenda of both capitalist organization and abstract scientific domination. Marina Levina explains that contemporary idea of participation most often implies “data donation” (Levina 2012).
Abstract mapping of body data works towards an ideal representation by and through data, it aims to beset all external electronic data that we produce (Zeller 2013), this absolutist position strongly idealizes the potential of quantification tools and contributes to elude basic social issues.
While Data becomes standard in information economy, one can consider this division process in its consequences; and we might ask if, by decomposing individual knowledge into sets of usable information, the person whom was once the repository of all intimacy becomes a transferable character only linked to a referenced set of data.
The desire creation of a different aesthetics in the QW project responds to a situation where corporate apropriation of “care” and well being tools serve economic benefits by destroying community based enquiries on the body, community support and deep inquiry of one’s sensation. The problematic raised seems to be the association of an unfair and inequal treatment of the data gathered to the profit of corporations and a destruction of existing networks that otherwise produce a variety of different body images. Those are reemplaced by a stadardised aesthetics of productivity that divides in bars and charts our relation to our body.
Brussels has a unique group of women and free software that has a history of 10 years of navigation in the free software community. Originally the group was supported by Constantvzw and friend structures. It has a history and active presence in the free software and artistic community. Apart from the many interventions reflexions invitations that happened a major project of maintaining an independent server was undertaken. After some years the activity has slowed down and the project was put on hold while the mailing list and the network is still maintained. While feminism gets some audience in the art world, and some space in academia, and gender balanced is worked for in the corporate environment, it seems that many of the feminist networks formed around free software have a declining activity. This issue is of importance because they are the place of many solidarities and are importantly fostering debate over collective practices. In our meeting last Saturday, during the QW exhibition, a number of old and new Samedies were present, we have acknowledged our attachment to the network discussed our different activities, between learning exchange political commitment and art. And tried to summarized how Samedies was existing in 2017.