[ISEA2020] Paper: Aisling Kelliher — Reclaiming and Commemorating Difficult Felt Experiences

Abstract (short paper)

Keywords: Autobiographical Design, Women, Trans- and Non-Binary People’s Health, Infertility, 3D printing, Difficult experiences

Consumer self-tracking products help generate optimization expectations about diverse aspects of the lived human experience including levels of physical fitness, mental health, and general wellness. The commercial rhetoric and positioning of the humans who do not, or cannot use these devices and systems is that they are somehow diminished or not aspiring to be all they could be. This notion that humans need to be fixed by a technological solution can engender considerable anxiety and stress, particularly when there are different power dynamics in who gets to determine who is supposedly broken. The work presented here seeks to reclaim and reframe difficult human experiences as complex events that require acknowledgement and emotionally reckoning with, rather than striving for a neat resolution through socio-technical means. The Done Medals are personal awards commemorating the successful endurance of an assisted fertility cycle. The medals reorient the maker and wearer away from stressful trackers, apps, and data, and towards an affirmation that a series of difficult events were completed and can now be shared as a social good.

  • Aisling Kelliher is an associate professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, USA, with joint appointments in the School of Visual Arts and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. Aisling creates and studies interactive media systems for enhancing reflection, learning, healing, and communication. Her work is grounded within the fields of human-computer-interaction, multimedia, and interaction design, and is motivated by a desire to integrate computational processes into everyday mediated experiences. Her current research explores the role of design in multiple interdisciplinary contexts including healthcare, future studies, and critical feminist perspectives. Aisling received a Ph.D. in Media, Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab. She also holds an MSc. in Multimedia Systems from Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland), and a B.A. in Communications Studies from Dublin City University.