By Anna Xambó, Carey Jewitt, and Sara Price
MIDAS involves collaborators from different disciplines and backgrounds connected to Digital Arts and/or Social Sciences. It addresses a pressing problem for contemporary research: how to synthesise approaches from the Arts and Social Sciences to develop innovative methods of research on digital technology and embodiment. It addresses this problem in the context of digital technology and the issues the digital raises for interacting with the body and the different methodological demands this places on disciplines where the body is a primary object of study, particularly in the Arts and the Social Sciences. The key objectives of MIDAS are to:
1) Describe the concepts, practices and processes used to research embodiment in digitally assisted arts (performance, fashion, design), and social sciences (medical simulation, technologies for education, online games);
2) Identify points of methodological connection and synergy across this multidisciplinary terrain;
3) Experiment how to integrate and exploit the methodological synergies and approaches to evaluate their applicability to embodiment research across the Digital Arts and Social Sciences;
4) Design training and capacity-building resources to support methodological innovation across the boundaries of the Digital Arts and Social Sciences.
MIDAS is currently investigating methods used to research notions of embodiment in different disciplinary contexts, through an exploration of six ethnographic case studies. Each site is a hub of methodological innovation, engaging in research on the body/physical interaction, and advanced digital technologies (e.g. body scanners; motion capture; or virtual environments). We are particularly interested in understanding what and how: methods are used at an institutional and individual level; body/physical interaction and digital technology are used; and methods are used for methodological innovation.
Through ethnographic observation, we try to get a sense of the methods and practices used in each site. This is complemented by informal conversations, and literature review packages suggested by each site. We are focusing on understanding how the different sites look into embodiment. As each site thinks differently about embodiment, we listen to the way they talk and observe their practices focusing on body, technology, and methods in order to get a sense of the assumptions and principles used in each site when thinking about the body. We use field-notes, photographs, and video recordings to document these ideas and routine methodological practices. This data will be analyzed to understand the different ‘methods world’ of each site. We plan to conduct a series of workshops in 2014 with the attendance of experts to explore themes, perspectives, experiences, and contribute to the development of future methods.
The MIDAS blog aims at providing a shared space for researchers and practitioners connected to the project to express their voices about research methods on digital technology and embodiment, and also finding out methodological synergies between Digital Arts and Social Sciences via documenting, reflecting, and sharing practices, processes, and ideas about digital technology and embodiment.
Project website: http://MIDAS.ioe.ac.uk
You can follow us on Twitter: @MIDAS_LKL