Process

KTH 2020 IxD Team Exhibition – Free the Nipple Project

A couple weeks ago, the Interaction Design team at KTH had an internal exhibition of design projects. Due to the pandemic, whereby we primarily work from home, it has been difficult to engage with each other’s design work. Thus, this exhibition was a chance for us to get together (in line with safe distancing) to share our work! I presented a new side project within my PhD that I started while on maternity leave last year, which I call Free the Nipple. Below are some images of my exhibition space and a draft project description. You can find more of the project’s process (and other project work) on my public instagram account.

Karey Helms breastfeeding project exhibition

This project explores bodily boundaries and social becomings within intimate care through the nipple as a threshold and interface during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a complex and often controversial topic grounded in tensions between desire and disgust, sexuality and sustenance. In navigating these tensions, this project peruses an ongoing journey of intimate care to understand the becomings of multiple, networked bodies and the vital force of breast milk.

Breast milk is an interesting bodily fluid because it is secreted, not excreted, for another human to ingest. This verbal distinction is significant because unlike many bodily fluids, breast milk is not discharged as waste, yet still carries with it connotations of disgust. This disgust has many layers, perhaps most commonly evidenced from those external to an immediate care network, but can also be felt by a woman in regards to her own breast milk or be suggested through a baby’s refusal to breastfeed. Though for many, breastfeeding is more than the secretion of breast milk from a mother to a child. It can also provide comfort and nurturing as signified by the usage of the term “nursing” over breastfeeding, which attempts to locate the complex social relations of care-giving and receiving. Inherent to both perspectives is an intricate web of chemical exchanges and changes that alter and disrupt involved bodies, and in which the vitality of breast milk is materialized. To unpack the sociomateriality of this involvement, I start with my own postpartum breasts as a strange interface between myself as a mother, my breastfeeding baby, and an intimate co-caretaker.

Thesis Narrative: Final Plot & Radio Show Script

The Family Circuit Narrative

Plot
Lotta Power wants her home to be ranked highly on the energy produciton list in the weekly shag. Home brochure. When she doesn’t see the Power family listed as a top net energy producer in Newtown, she becomes irritated. The brochure highlights the energy harvesting potential of the piezoelectric shag Carpet Footprint already installed in the Power family’s central home energy system. In order to stimulate more energy production while also inhibiting consumption, she hides Max’s headphones so he cannot work on his ambient DJ album. Frustrated, as she anticipated, Max begins searching frantically, running around the house and thus generating electricity as his feet rub and pounded on the shag carpet. Though, in his fervent searching, he causes a ruckus and wakes sleeping Minnie frightfully from her nap. As Minnie begins to cry profusely, she no longer sucks on the energy harvesting Pacify Her that Robin personally uses to charge her smartphone. Right as Minnie drops the Pacify Her, Robin receives a text notification about a new submission to Suburban Dictionary, the website she founded and manages, but doesn’t have time to read it before her phone dies. As Minnie is still crying and refuses the Pacify Her, Robin begins to suck on it herself. Otto wishes to watch the morning news before heading to work, but sees the television is low on power and Lotta has disconnected it from the central home energy system. As he observes Robin awkwardly with the Pacify Her, he luckily has just enough power in his phone to seize the opportunity to take a photo and post it to Instagram. Just as Robin’s phone turns back on, charged by the pacifier, she sees the image Instagram and becomes furious. Since she doesn’t want to loose power in her phone and thus continues sucking on the pacifier and expresses her anger through violent gestures. Luckily, she is wearing the Temper Trap purchased by Otto, which harvests energy from vigorous movement and skaking. As she intensely expresses her emotions over the photo, Otto is able to wirelessly charge the TV with energy harvested from the Temper Trap. Overheated from emotion, Robin turns on the air conditioning, which is part of the central home energy production system, draining the house of all recently produced energy. The Power family is no powerless.