So, first, a few things that came out of my first meeting with Jaron and my colleague Imma who has also just started in the BAU doctoral programme.
Imma’s project is on digital intimacies, and it looks like there’s potentially some interesting overlap here with my work. Jaron mentions Bataille’s The Accursed Share as a text that might be useful to both of us, in particular Bataille’s ideas (I need to check if i understood this correctly) about how waste and excess can offer way of regaining intimacy from purely instrumental relationships. We also talked briefly about discards of digital posessions as an intimate act – a way of putting something out of sight of others, or in some cases, out of direct sight of ourselves.
I think my first task is going to be to read The Accursed Share, as well as going back over my bibliography from my proposal – in particular I want to re-read Purity and Danger paying more attention to the role of ritual.
Other things that occurred to me – given the intimacy / privacy concerns associated with researching the things that people throw away, it possibly makes sense to start with some sort of autoethnographic project as that way i’m only invading my own privacy at least for now. I think the first thing I really want to get to grips with is some kind of taxonomy of discarded digital objects, and motivations for discarding them. If i kept a log for a few weeks of everything i delete or otherwise discard, this might allow me to start attempting a partial categorisation of them, and give me some idea of specific areas to investigate in more depth?
I quite like the idea of making a physical note on paper of every virtual thing discarded, and throwing that in a bin i’d keep aside for the purpose, then after a few weeks sifting through the physical discards corresponding to my virtual ones. (it also occurs to me that there are other things
I’m also gonna look out some general reading on autoethnography, and in particular its role in design projects and creative practice in general.
A couple more things that occurred to me that could use some further thought:
- It’d be interesting to catalogue ‘dead’ websites from the wayback machine, build an archive of discarded knowledge. This is kinda a different perspective than the one i’ve taken so far though – looking at the sum-of-all-discards on a global scale rather than the individual act of discarding something, so I’m not quite sure how to make that fit.
- On the subject of digital intimacy – is forgetting or ‘saying goodbye’ [despedir] to something or something a ‘discard’? I feel like it is, given that the stuff represented within our digital lives aren’t just objects / posessions, but people, ideas, relationships, more abstract things. Is it worth looking into ritual practices around this too, to see if there’s anything interesting in there?