Prototype

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.

AAAI 2018 – Presentation & Slides

Karey Helms presenting at UX of AI spring symposium

Last week I presented my paper Design Methods to Investigate User Experiences of Artificial Intelligence at the 2018 AAAI Spring Symposium on the User Experiences of Artificial Intelligence. The picture above was taken by a Google Clips camera, which was also one of the presented papers. Below are my slides, which contain supplementary images to my paper on the three design methods I have engaged with relative to the UX of AI. Another blog post will soon follow with reflections on other papers presented.

PhD’ing – Writers’ Retreat, Project Offsite, Outdoors Research, and Making Preciousness

Today I saw a meme on Instagram which said, “We are now entering the third month of January.” I couldn’t relate more! And looking back over the past few weeks, cannot believe all that has already happened in 2018.

KTH Writers' Retreat

Writer’s Retreat

Following a paper deadline in early January, my department at KTH (Media Technology and Interaction Design) kicked off 2018 with a writers’ retreat. What happens at a writers’ retreat? We book a venue in the Stockholm archipelago for three days and two nights, and write. And sauna and winter swim, but mainly write. The primary purpose of the retreat is to provide time and space away from everyday academic duties, from teaching to admin responsibilities, in order to focus on increasing the quality and quantity of our writing output. During the three days, we follow an agile framework in which junior/senior pairs write in ~45 minute sprints and then provide ~15 minutes of feedback. In addition to intense writing blocks, lunches, dinners, and evening activities provide ample opportunities to better know our colleagues professionally and personally. Though equally as exhausting as the writing, this social time I find incredibly valuable in creating a continued collaborative culture at work.

During this year’s writing camp I started a paper on a Pee-ometer, a recent project by Master’s students that I proposed and supervised in which they prototyped a wearable device that predicts when a user has to pee to investigate Machine Learning as a design material.

Project Offsite

In mid January, the Smart Implicit Interaction project had a two day project offsite. As the project is composed of differing philosophical and methodological backgrounds – i.e. Artificial Intelligence, Social Sciences, and Interaction Design – the first day consisted of a beginners overview into reinforcement and representational learning in neural networks to introduce technical terminology and objectives. During the second day, all of the sub-projects presented their current status and goals for the year. I specifically presented two ongoing design projects, data-driven design methods and the Pee-ometer. In the former, I discussed early design activities and resulting concepts from investigating the implications of screenshots as a data source. In the latter, I discussed three high-level interests guiding future project directions, including Machine Learning as a design material, interactional loops, and critique and ethics. Overall, it was inspiring to share and strategize better collaborations while revisiting overarching project objectives.

Project Offsite

Last week continued January’s streak of out-of-office research activities and into the forest. To kick off an new outdoors project, myself and three senior researchers went on a mid-week day hike 30 minutes outside of Stockholm. Not only was I surprised at a Professor’s ability to make a fire in the snow, but the excursion was both refreshing and constructive. More in the coming months!

Making Preciousness

And last but definitely not least, friend and fellow PhD student Vasiliki successfully defended her thesis Making Preciousness: Interaction Design Through Studio Crafts. Her opponent Ron Wakkary gave a much deserved brilliant presentation of her work before lengthy discussions with him and the committee. Admittedly, it is selfishly bittersweet to see her finishing as she has been a tremendous support and inspiration during the first year of my own PhD.

TEI 2018 – Studio Call for Participation

Sociomateriality: Infrastructuring and Appropriation of Artifacts

Novel materials and innovative applications can sometimes outweigh a reflective perspective on the roles that objects and materials can play in social life. In this Studio, we want to bring together researchers and practitioners who are interested in exploring design outcomes from a sociomaterial perspective. By having prototypes at the center of the Studio activities, we intend to create prompted speculative fictions that link the material outcomes of design practice to social agency and cultural effects.

This studio will offer an opportunity to examine how objects might participate in social spheres as well as act as material bridges to their design process. We will do this through both hands-on examination of design objects, and inquiry into the infrastructuring and appropriation of these artifacts. The themes that will be examined are agency, material participation, and cultural performance of things. We encourage participants to bring their own prototypes.

We invite scholars and design practitioners from a variety of fields to register on the TEI 2018 website. For any questions, email the workshop organizers at mailto:hello@sociomaterial-things.com.

For any questions, email the workshop organizers at:
mailto:hello@sociomaterial-things.com.

More information you can find at the Studio webpage:
http://sociomaterial-things.com

Organizers
Tom Jenkins – Georgia Institute of Technology
Vasiliki Tsaknaki – KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Karey Helms – KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Ludvig Elblaus – KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Nicolai Brodersen Hansen – TU Eindhoven

WIAD16 Bristol – Making the Invisible Physical

Below is the loose script and slides from a 20 minute talk I gave in Bristol for World IA Day 2016 – “Information Everywhere, Architects Everywhere.” I presented personal design projects in which I prototype physical manifestations of invisible interactions from the mundane moments of my daily life, and the resulting insights that inform how I make sense of complex sociotechnical systems and dynamic information exchanges to design meaningful enterprise solutions. More information on the event and other speakers in Brisol can be viewed on the Lanyrd event page.