[ISEA2009] Paper: Joel Swanson – The Confessional Machine


Conceptual foundations
My current project, The Confessional Machine, explores certain complexities of computing that are relevant to this discussion of ‘Emotional Tracking.’ I would like to sketch out my conceptual interests in this theme and then relate how they are integral to my current work.

My interest in the theme of ‘Tracking Emotions’ begins with the perspective that ‘tracking’ is a reductive, and in many situations, problematic practice. How can one ‘track’ or objectively target and categorize such a complex, emergent phenomenon such as emotions? Further, how can one catalogue, with any intent of representational accuracy, a phenomenon like emotions which are constantly filtered, and therefore conditioned by, systems of linguistic representation? As Jordan Crandall has noted, tracking is implicated in:

“…(a) landscape in which signifiers have become statistics … TRACKING EMERGED out of the mid-century demands of war and production. It emerged through the development of computing, the wartime sciences of information theory and cybernetics, and the development of structuralism”.

  • Joel Swanson University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

Full Text (PDF) p. 1132-1136