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Pancreas Model

Model of pancreas made from plasticine

To gain a deeper understanding of how the pancreas works I made a model of it and it’s functions in A4 size.


Book Reference: ‘The Book of Humans’ by Adam Rutherford

P.23. ‘Very nearly nothing we do, artistic, creatively, or obviously scientific, could exist without technology underpinning it.’ Technology being a broad term. But the reliance on it is mega.

P.23. ‘We are animal whose entire culture and existence is completely dependent upon tools’

P.32. ‘Generally we don’t have to invent the same technology over and over again’

P.32. ‘We are witnessing an ability to deliberately manipulate external objects for specific purpose.’

P.39. ‘A tool is an external object manipulated as a purposeful extension of the user’s body’

P.21. ‘Humans and creatures are imbued with technology. That is a word that has taken on a specific meaning in the modern age. I write these words on a computer, with an internet browser on in the background connected via Wi-Fi. We tend to think of these electrical gadgets and services as being the embodiment of technology today.’ Same as my starting point, reference this.

P.77. ‘We excel at the use of tools to extend our reach beyond the limitations of our physical forms.’ Technology!

P.87. ‘With tools, with weapons, even with fashion, we have extended our abilities far beyond those of other animals. While we see some tool use, flashes of the violence that we indulge in, and the merest glimpse of aesthetic choices, the differences are stark. Our cognition and dexterity have given us the wherewithal to manufacture objects of such sophistication that we became obligate tool users, creatures who have been manipulating our environment for so long that we have been utterly dependent on technology for hundreds of thousands of years.’ Good for technology again.

Interview with Mikey

I recently spoke to a puppeteer based in South East London. I wanted to ask him questions about how motion and depicting motion can inform other areas of motion making such as prosthetic making and medical technology.

‘I started performing as a puppeteer when I was 15 in a youth theatre and loved it. I was lucky because all the stuff that I was taught as a teenager was all really proper stuff – it’s stuff that I teach now. Then I went to drama school and did a physical theatre degree. Also while I was at youth theatre I did set building as well. When I was doing my physical theatre degree I sort of thought I would become an actor then realised that I didn’t really, well, I wasn’t very good and it wasn’t really what I wanted and then fell back into puppetry. I did some puppetry while I was training and did lots more after I graduated and then luckily I fell into the world just as puppetry was really taken off again in a really big way. I was in the first West End cast of War Horse then that just snowballed into bigger and bigger things and i’m still working on small things too because you know, that’s lovely to not have the pressure to do something massive. It’s been a bit of a weird journey to get here but most people who I know that work with puppets sort of fell into it. Some people – it’s all they’ve done their whole lives but the majority of people – it’s all sort of just happened and we all really love it anyway

A lot of inspiration for puppetry does come from the natural movement of whatever it is that you’re trying to create a puppet of. War Horse is a great example – they copied the tendons and ligaments in a horses leg to find out how to string up the puppet and what should connect what from what side, what short of tension should it be – should it be a string, should it be an elastic? They did a lot of that stuff based on real anatomy. You see that in a lot of very simple puppets as well – if you want it to be able to walk, you need to make sure that it’s hip joint is a ball and socket, it’s knee joint is a hinge, it’s ankle joint is a hinge, you have to copy what’s there in reality to make it look real. And so I think that the idea of taking inspiration from biology is definitely something that we do a lot of in puppetry. It’s one of the reasons that it works, it’s one of the reasons that people watch puppets and want to believe in them because they see the reality of it. They see that it’s not this weird nebulous thing, it is something which, you know, if you want something that’s really beautiful and engaging and sort of adult, then you do want something that is as close to reality as possible. If you want something that’s fun and silly like Sesame Street then that’s also great but it doesn’t have the same resonance as… it doesn’t tap into the same thing in a person where they see the reality in it. Whereas taking your cues from what is really there in the anatomy of biology of whatever it is that you’re recreating in puppet form really does make it work, it gives it that something that makes people believe in it.’

‘It’s a really interesting thing that happens with CG work, where, if you’re trying to, it’s why so many studios nowadays especially, they will use more motion capture than they ever used to. They used to just build a rig themselves and just move it around whereas now it’s more likely that they’ll use motion capture because you’re getting the real movements and you’re putting that onto your character. There’s also something great which gets done quite a lot which is they’ll have a rough version of a CG character which they’ll put on a monitor in the volume so that when you’re moving around in your suit, you can see what it looks like on that character so you’re using just your movements to make it more natural, to make it look more believable based on how it’s looking to the human eye because humans are brilliant at recognising what’s real and what’s not, we’re really good at spotting if something is off in a way that you can’t quite put your finger on. No matter how good CGI is, more often than not, you can tell. It’s easier to do CG with things like backgrounds, buildings landscapes because they’re not natural, they’re not anatomical. As soon as you get into anything anatomical you start to see the gaps in it, it’s why a lot of the most successful CG characters haven’t necessarily been real biology. Like you look at Dobby who is successful, but that’s because he’s not based on anything real, he’s a fictional species and you look at Gollum and he’s a fictional species which is based on a human but he’s so warped and twisted but it doesn’t matter if he’s all over the place.’

‘I think that’s really interesting what you were saying and it’s true that you so can easily tell when something hasn’t been done as perfectly as natural life does move in it’s own way.’

‘It’s true and it means that that’s one of the reasons that there was a big shift back to practical effects, you know, we had the big boom in CG effects and sometimes they were used to terrible effect and then there was a big shift in what the public wanted , we got sophisticated enough as an audience that just seeing CGI wasn’t impressive anymore. There was a time when it was like ‘oh look – they’ve included CGI characters, how exciting’ but it got to a point where we were like ‘oh look there’s another CGI character, this is not very good.’ And so there was a shift back to practical effects because as an audience we look at them and go ‘man that looks really real’ and now we’re at a point where are things where you can’t tell if they’re real or CGI. There are even things which are a mixture of the two. And practical has definitely felt like the way to go for a long long time. You look at all of the Star Wars sequels, that’s so much practical stuff. There’s been a big trend back towards it, which just shows that people want reality. ‘

‘I think that when you see that transparency through these pieces of work, you’re in so much more awe. The behind the scenes footage of how animations for example are made, or rigs that they used to make the animations or even with the War Horse puppet, the fact that you’re able to see the people in it and it’s quite a transparent structure, it’s so much more impressive because you get to see the work that’s behind it. When you know the amount of effort that’s been put into something, it becomes so much more pleasing to see. Have you ever done animation and rigging, do you ever do much of that sort of thing?’

‘I dont do any of the rigging but i’ve watched it and know vaguely how it’s done but I don’t do it.’

Do you think that they do take a lot of inspiration from nature and the way things move? I guess you could see a lot of that in puppetry as well – is it all about trying to recreate this movement, how do you see the most successful methods of doing that play out?

With animation rigging, I don’t think they’ve always done that because a lot of it is a visual art form it’s just about how it looks. Does it look good or not? It’s arguably the same with puppetry, you know, a lot of what we do is cheating, a lot of what we do isn’t real, it’s just what looks real to an audience and sometimes what looks real isn’t what is real. There’s a certain license that gets taken because it just looks better or more believable but there are certain things where if I ever do research for a certain animal or something, there are times when I will look at something and go; ‘I can’t do that with a puppet’, people won’t believe it. People will think that that’s not real.’ You look at some of the weird positions that animals get themselves into, you look at the strange things that people do, the weird way that people sit and you’re like ‘if I did that with a puppet, nobody would think that’s real so you do an approximation of it so it sort of looks right which is all based within biology but you sort of take what is anatomically possible and then you have to reduce it down to what is anatomically believable to someone who is looking at it for the first time. People’s joints are incredibly supple and you can do things sat at home that you can be like ‘actually if I saw someone do that with a puppet i’d think what are they doing’ And the same happens with rigging as well, there are times when you just have to go ‘I can’t do that, it just doesn’t look right’ and you have to go with what looks believable. There’s a lot of artistic license taken with a lot of this stuff because they are art forms and when it comes to how things are rigged and animated and how things are performed as puppets, you start from a place of anatomical reality and you use that as your jumping off point. Because more often than not, the types of things that you use a puppet for, it’s going to be for things that a human can’t do, so there’s an element of going beyond human. So by and large, it’s not always about what is the most real thing and that’s purely the nature of creating art.’

Yeah it doesn’t have to be scientific, and for the viewer I don’t think it would matter too much, like obviously you can tell when something isn’t perfect but as you said, some things you have to cut out. Have you ever looked into prosthetics or medical equipment? Have you ever thought that the two things could relate?

‘Sort of, so I’ve thought about it in terms of, like when i’ve been working with things like puppet hands and things I have thought about them in terms of ‘this would be great as a way to use this as a prosthetic that doesn’t involve you just using your own hand because obviously that’s not useful. But then it’s like how can you make that work. I’ve seen videos of people creating prosthetic finger to go on amputated fingers which have that same system of like a string and an elastic drum connected to the arm and then it’s about wrist movement. So i’ve found that really interesting because it’s sort of a combination of what I do. I’ve also seen a weird thing where somebody’s had an extra prosthetic finger, so it had like six fingers on their hand. So i’ve looked into it a little bit but i’ve not done much research but I definitely feel like there are applications there. But you do end up slightly getting into arguments because you’re looking at it in terms of what looks real and what looks like natural movement but that’s not always necessarily what is most useful for people. You know you look at running blades and they don’t look like real human legs but they do an amazing job of giving people speed and allowing people to run and walk and dance so then you get into – it’s not about making it look real, it’s not about copying what’s already there anatomically, maybe it’s about copying, well not even copying but maybe it’s about finding a way of replicating the mechanics but not through the same processes, it’s just getting the same result. I do think that running blades are a really good example of that because you’re not in any way trying to replicate a human leg but you are getting a similar result and arguably a better result because they are specifically made for speed and shock absorbency and things which actually the human leg is not very good at.’

Yeah and I guess that with that you could argue that it’s a form of transhumanism because you’re extending your body, you’re doing more than what your natural body could’ve done if you’d had two human legs so then could you put those two people in the same running race? And for example Aimee Mullins who is a double amputee had cheetah legs made for her and then it’s like you’re using these things to completely augment your body which is exactly what i’m interested in but I feel like with prosthetics they’re much more widely available and there’s many more things that you can do to change them depending on your needs, whereas with insulin pumps for example, they’re very medical and it’s the same with dialysis machines and pacemakers, but in the same way they are attached to your body and pacemakers are within your body and so not only does this have an effect on your identity but the fact that you’re not able to change them simply makes you a patient instead of someone who can be as Aimee Mullins calls – ‘an architect of your own body’. And I feel that with prosthetics you can do that but you lose that creative element with these other machines so that’s where my project is coming from but I thought that talking to someone who is involved in movement and recreating movement would be a really good starting point.

‘Yeah and I really recommend that you talk to this puppeteer called ……………….. ……………………… She is a puppeteer and is diabetic and uses an insulin pump and I know that she is not shy about talking about her diabetes and her right to a pump and so she would probably be a good person to talk to about her thoughts on it as someone who works in puppetry and movement.’

Article Reference: ‘Technology and Social Futures’ by Gerrard Goggin

This article has been very helpful in specifically examining the role that technology plays in the lives of those who use it for medical needs. Through reading this I have learned some of the limitations that technology possesses and how the organisations that make the pieces of technology can sometimes fail to understand how the technology will be used on a personal level, where they focus on how the technology can be used commercially.

P.79. ‘Now there is widespread interest in the perceived benefits of emerging technology for improving the lives of people with disabilities.

P.79. ‘Yet a central stumbling block in technology and disability has been the lack of interest in or resistance to accounts that offer alternative, transformative accounts of disability.‘ There has been insight into the effects on technology for disabilities in a medical sense, but there are far less accounts of people who have served to delve from the other side of the story, aka the accounts of those affected. 

P.79. ‘Yet the most common way of understanding technology as something technical’, ‘hi- tech’, ‘modern’, and, especially, ‘futuristic’.

P.79. ‘Especially in relation to disability, we encounter many preconceived notions, myths, and stereotypes associated with technology.’

P.79. ‘Some kinds of technology are explicitly predicated on doing away with particular kinds of
impairments and conditions, and in doing so, threaten particular life forms, and the life, and life prospect, of some people with disabilities.’
Basically, in aiding those with a disability, you are helping part of their life, but taking away another part.

P.80. ‘Many technologies assume and inscribe particular notions and power relations of disability, without this being apparent, explicit, or contested.’

P.80. ‘In short, if we are concerned with the future of critical disability studies, then technology is key.’

P.80. ‘Technology is not only something that underpins daily life, it is key to how we imagine and arrange society’

P.82. ‘Second, feeding into and often critiquing assistive technology and the various design approaches is the ‘social model’ of disability.’ This is important to note. It is not the medical issue that is making the individual disabled. It is the society in which the person lives. This might be worth noting in the introduction ‘ this piece of writing looks at disability using the social model of disability’ – which it will be.

P.82. ‘At the heart of the model is the tenet that while people might have impairments, there are structures and oppressive power relations that underpin the kinds of inaccessible environments and barriers to participation in society that ‘disable’ people.’ Clear definition of social model of disability

P.83. ‘Too often still, technology is shaped in ways that do not acknowledge and reflect the diversities of uses of people with disabilities, and the dynamic complexities of engaging with questions of access’ There is still a problem! Technology does not always think about the different wants and needs of people with the disability.

P.83. ‘Creative, critical work allied to this endeavour is also required to open up and reimagine disability for the different, diverse, rich worlds that people actually do and wish to inhabit’ We need to re imagine how these technologies can be used. 

P.84. ‘Consider, for instance, the recurrent sense in which the promotion, advocacy, and shaping of new technologies is heavily freighted towards commercial enterprises, medical, caring, and other professionals, technologists, governmental and welfare interests, and disability service providers, rather than those intended as the recipients, consumers, and end-users of such technologies or others, including citizens, with a stake in them.’ you don’t really see a lot of accessories or help for technology by the companies. E.g. ‘hid in’ is made by someone on facebook. Its only the people that suffer with the specific disability that seek to make it more comfortable and easier to live with on a day to day basis. 

P.84. ‘The problem has been, especially with the advent of the signal changes with digital technologies that such specialized, demarcated technologies and their providers can be cut-off from the wider operations of markets in technology,’ They are cut off from  the users.

P.85. ‘So there is a very important debate continuing about the relationship between specialized and general technologies that people with disabilities might use, and also between design for specific uses, groups, and populations and larger, even mass markets (e.g. the ‘universal design’ movement;’ The technologies have been made universally. Not taking into account the wants and needs of the specific users

P.85. ‘Add to which, much technology specifically designed for, and customized for, users with disabilities can be expensive (compared to other similar technology) and not affordablE’ Here, there is another problem. Needles are being used by people who may not have the means to pumps for example. Pumps are of course more expensive. So it costs to live partly problem-free. Is there a fair balance between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

P.85. ‘Around the world, the needs of people with disabilities to affordable accessible, and appropriately designed technology are not being met.’ striking quote.

P.85. ‘Also that some groups of users, those with higher levels of income, can be better placed to find consumer information and support in order to purchase or obtain technology they require.’ People of higher affluence may also be likely to be better educated in dealing with diabetes and where to find the means technology. What about for those who are less well off? What does the NHS provide in the UK? This might be something to look in to

P.86. ‘girls, boys, women and men with any kind of impairment, and in need of assistive technologies for other purposes than personal mobility, are discriminated against unless technologies that meet their needs are made available at affordable cost.’ striking again.

P.86. ‘Thus far, however, there is a long way to go to meet the promise of radical participation and innovation, driven by, incorporating, genuinely involving, people with disabilities as inventors, designers, users, purchasers, policy makers, and so on.’ this is important! Those who are affected must be the designers or play a big role in the design process.

P.86. ‘GDI Hub brings people together from very different backgrounds giving fresh perspectives on existing problems. Hackathons give everyone an equal voice and disabled people always play a pivotal role.’ Inclusive design is important. Do people with diabetes feel excluded? What could be imported in everyday life to make them feel more included?

P.87. ‘Just as we lack histories of disability and technology, so too we lack studies of how people with disabilities use technology in their lives, in their cultural and social settings.’

P.87. ‘This would be helped by encouraging a wide variety of studies that explore uses, meanings, and cultures of disability technology in the many settings that have not been the prime focus of the mainstream work in disability and technology.’ This is exactly what i want to do. Look at a very specific disability and rethink how the technology is designed by firstly listening to those who are affected.

P.87. ‘For instance, we surely need more research on disability and technology across many kinds of households, varied locations in social and political and public life, cultural activities, intimate life and relationships.’

P.87. ‘What is often obscured, however, are the real, material stakes for people with disabilities, and others, the emergent socio-technical terrains of disability and technology. So critical work is crucial to opening up the shaping of new technology systems, values, and imaginaries.’ The conclusion.

Context Report Introduction

 As we progress into the ‘Electronic stage of the retribalized man’ – that being the ‘full sensory involvement’ with endless forms of technology and ways of extending our bodies using such mediums, it’s only fair to consider the effects this involvement has on our identity as humans. When increased developments of technology are born and hybridised out of one another and combined with our body, in ways both physical and psychological, it is clear we form a state of ‘reversal’ where we aspire to find ‘wholeness, empathy, and depth of awareness’ in the natural world to make us feel alive and as a result, more human-like. However, in many instances, the merging of technology with our bodies is hard to avoid, especially when used as a medical application. Applications such as insulin pumps, dialysis machines, and pacemakers are relied upon in ways we now can’t live without. The technology that keeps us alive therefore becomes a part of us, an extra organ or limb that is native to our body but keeps us functioning and as a result, we begin to develop a relationship with the interwoven medium that makes it hard to establish exactly where humanism ends and posthumanism begins. 

Rigging as a practice of recreating movement is similar to the way in which creators of prosthetic limbs study the natural movement of the body and create structures that aids this natural movement. The difference between the two being the purpose for the creations of course. However, where prosthetic creation appears as a medical practice and rigging as a creative practice that is used merely for entertainment, it seems necessary to mention the overlaps that the two inevitably make. With prosthetic limbs, compared insulin pumps, dialysis machines and pacemakers – which are much harder to augment, it is easier to re-shape or re-design the product as it’s something you can take on and off the body, with a pair of prosthetic legs as an example, you are choosing your height, the shape of your legs and how they move, making you the ‘architect of your own body’, or indeed the rigger of your body’s movement, and in doing so, you may feel empowered as it’s something you might be in control of. But for those who have less control over the ways in which their body merges with a piece of technology used as medical equipment, it is likely that their social dynamic changes, not only compared to people who can augment their medical technology, but also compared to people who have no need for medical technology whatsoever, who use technology as something to dive in and out of on a day to day basis. For those who use medical devices that are relied upon hour to hour or even minute to minute, there might be a stronger sense of replacement and imposition from device to user, making the user feel less alive than the device itself. 

Article Reference: The Horror of Humour’ by Eric. D Olson

This is just a few quotes from this article, mainly about dehumanisation and what it means to dehumanise. Its related to the effect that this has on humour but it’s also relevant as a concept – I will be looking at the part technology plays in dehumanising people.

Olson, E. N.D. The Horror of Humour: Tension, Dehumanisation and Related Observations [Online] Available at <; [Accessed 09 April 2015]

P.8. ‘Before I step further into this analysis, it is important to discuss dehumanization. In order
to “humanize” an object or animal under my definition, one must apply human standards or human
conditions to said object or animal.’

P.8. ‘The desire to wear clothing is a uniquely human characteristic. It comes not only from a societal requirement, but from the necessity to remain warm in inclement weather’

P.9. ‘In the opposite process, dehumanization, the original subject is a human being. The object of one who dehumanizes another is to decrease that person’s humanity, thus negatively moving the person.

P.9. ‘To humanize, one applies human conditions or standards; to dehumanize, one removes some of what are generally known as intrinsic human traits, such as dignity or liberty.’

P.9. ‘I contend, for the purpose of this paper, that all humans possess dignity through their self-determination.

Article Reference: ‘Narratives of Disability and the Movement from Deficiency to Difference’ by Caroline Gray

Gray, Caroline. “Narratives of Disability and the Movement from Deficiency to Difference.” Cultural Sociology 3.2 (2009): 317-32. Web.

P.317. ‘redefines disability as a difference rather than a deficiency. Instead In the last several decades, disabled people, disability rights activists, and their supporters have introduced an alternative way of thinking about disability, one that redefines disability as a difference rather than a deficiency. Instead of assuming that disabilities need to be cured, ‘fixed’, or eliminated, this relatively new discourse suggests that having a disability may invoke a sense of pride rather than shame.’

P.317. ‘In fact, if anything, disability should be, according to this discourse, evaluated as a positive difference.’

P.318. ‘Most often, disability is defined in medical, supposedly pre-social terms, described as
the ‘non-functioning’ of a particular capacity of the human body.’

P.318. any physical incapacity that also results in discrimination.’

P.318 ‘A sociological definition of disability would assume that it is, like any other marker or identity, socially constructed.’

P.319. One would be hard pressed to deny that disability remains a stigmatized category or to likewise deny that interactions between disabled and non-disabled people are often ‘flawed’ and plagued by ambiguities.’ On people with diabetes; because it can be partly hidden, I guess the stigma is less prominent than say for example someone who uses a more visible piece of technology that comes with a specific disability like for example a wheelchair, a hearing aid, or a walking stick. Because you cant always see an insulin pump, a person who uses an insulin pump lies in the middle; would they count themselves as ‘disabled’ (be that medically or socially)? What does having the piece of technology that is sometimes hidden, sometimes not, do to the person’s identity?

P.319. ‘disabled people as interactional deviants to thinking about them as a marginalized ‘minority group’ who, despite the differences in their disabilities, have in common the shared experience of
social exclusion and systematic discrimination.’

P.319. ‘‘the social model of disability’, and assumes that the problem resides not in disabled persons’ bodies but in the social environment that fails to support them (Shakespeare, 2008).’

p.320. ‘cultural sociology would suggest that we understand disability
as a system of symbolic classification. Doing so allows us to deconstruct the very
category of disability itself.’

P.320. ‘Once interpreted, the disabled body becomes culturally inscribed as a ‘polluted’, ‘contaminated’ body, one that stands in sharp contrast to the idealized, sacred, ‘normal’ and non-disabled representation of the human body (Douglas, 1966; Durkheim, 1995 [1912])

P.321. ‘At the opposite extreme, disability represents the complete failure of the physical body to meet any of these standards, and in this way, acts as a potentially polluting element.’

P.321. ‘The first is the form of the body, which encompasses a binary of beauty and ugliness.’ beauty vs ugliness; interesting. Again, I think its different for different disabilities. e.g. Aimee Mullins is deemed beautiful and incredible fashion designers have used her to model their work. She is beautiful in the eyes of the mainstream media, and afterall, she is a model. But, is this deemed so because her specific disability isn’t ‘ugly’, I think it maybe the piece of medical equipment used may play a part in this. For example, have you ever seen a model in mainstream media with a catheter bag?

P.321. ‘To demonstrate ‘ability’ suggests that an individual possesses a capacity to manipulate and move his or her body in ways considered acceptable and appropriate in a particular cultural context.’

P.323. ‘Assimilation, as I described earlier, is a process of incorporation that requires
that stigmatized groups disassociate themselves from their stigmatizing qualities and adopt those of the core group.’

P.323. ‘For example, prosthetic body parts and hearing aids may not change the actual physical body itself but may give the appearance of a body reinstated to its ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ state.’

P.324. ‘The grand narrative of assimilation always rests on this desire to find ‘the cure’, as it appears to offer the only suitable societal response to supposedly deficient disabled bodies.‘ Interesting… This shouldn’t be the only suitable societal response to supposedly deficient disabled bodies. 

P.325. However, they remain only conditionally; the disabled person must attempt to heroically overcome his or her disability by adopting a positive attitude. So, if you’re positive you can be included? Very harsh.

P.325. Eliminating disability does not lose its appeal. Rather, ‘overcoming’ disability becomes the next best alternative. It is not necessarily about cure but rather control. This is the next best thing to finding the ‘cure’. But again, this seems harsh.

P.325. ‘The positive attitude in a sense enables people with disabilities.’

P.325. ‘Often these narratives include specific examples of the various ways that disabled individuals lead ‘normal’ lives, examples that seem to make them appear even more amazing.’

P.327. ‘Instead of thinking of deafness as a disability, we think of it as an enhancement of vision’ interesting. An extension of vision? What could diabetes be an extension of Its a replacement pancreas but is it an extension? I suppose so

P.327. ‘But even more revealing and significant are attempts to assert not just disability as a different kind of ability, but disability as a superior kind of ability. This perspective assumes that having a disability allows persons to find new and inventive ways of performing tasks and ways of ‘seeing’ and interpreting the world around them.’

P.327. I don’t need to be fixed’ I don’t need to be fixed. Very powerful.

Online Reference: ‘The Bombing of Rafah’ By

Explaining the methodology: ‘Because social media tends to strip images of their original metadata, including time and location, FA had to piece together this information by studying elements within the image, such as shadows and the shape of bomb clouds, to locate each image in time and space and compose a narrative of the day.

‘Before’ and ‘after’ images were used to assess changes in site condition at attack sites under analysis. The ‘before’ satellite image served as a baseline from which any disturbance to the natural or built-up environment may be identified in the ‘after’ image.

Three satellite images were used in this project, dated 30 July, 1 August and 14 August. Each image extends westward from the Gaza-Egypt border to encompass central Rafah and was captured around 11.39am. The 1 August image, in particular, captures a moment only two and a half hours after the ceasefire collapsed, during the peak of the Israeli bombardment.’

Book Reference: ‘McLuhan for Beginners’ by W. Terrence Gordon

This next book is one I have read before in preparation for writing about the imposition of technology on human identity in the form of mobile phones and insulin pumps. I thoroughly enjoyed writing that essay and this book made it really easy for me to understand McLuhan’s work and apply it to my own. I’m sure that this book will also help me in writing my context report about similar effects of technology on humanity.

P.5. (On ‘Understanding Media by McLuhan): ‘His key theme: how technology affects the forms and scale of social organisation and individual lives.’ Something important to remember when analysing ‘Understanding Media’ as a whole book and set of theories.

P.33. ‘In a nutshell, McLuhan’s idea is that there have been three ages of man: I. The Preliterate or Tribal Era – when the spoken word was king and the ear was the queen – II. The Gutenberg Age – when the printed word was king and the eye was queen – III. The Electronic Age of Retribalized Man – when FULL sensory involvement (especially touching) is believing – when all senses are jesters at the royal court and there is no king or queen.’ Johannes Gutenberg introduced printing / the printing press to Europe. I think the last point is the most interesting, that there is no king or queen – it’s a free for all of all senses

P.42. ‘McLuhan saw media as make-happen rather than make-aware agents, as systems more similar in nature to roads and canals than objects of art or models of behaviour.’ Maybe this speaks to gate-keeping in the media, most notorious in the news. We only see / hear what the media moguls want us to. We’re only really ‘aware’ of so much. However, in controlling what we see on television, the medium of TV itself does in fact become a ‘make happen agent’ as we base our actions around it’s teachings, which changes the dynamic of society.

P.43. ‘Most of us think as media (one “medium;” two or more “media:) as sources that bring us news or information – namely the press, radio, and television. But McLuhan had his own ingeniously original definition of media. To him, a medium – while it may often be a new technology is any extension of our bodies, minds or beings…’ Great definition.

P.43. ‘Clothing is an extension of our skin.’ ‘The stirrup, the bicycle, and the car extend the human foot.’ ‘The computer extends our central nervous system’.

P.44. (On medium = message.) ‘If we define “message” simply as the idea of “content” or “information”, McLuhan believes, we miss one of the most important features of media; their power to change the course and functioning of human relations and activities’. ‘So … the “message” of a medium is as any change in scale, pace or pattern that a medium causes in societies or cultures.

P.57. ‘The transition from mechanical to electronic media led to a relentless acceleration – a virtual explosion – of all human activity.’

P.64. ‘McLuhan’s strategy is this: before we can save ourselves from drowning in the media of our own creation, we must first observe and then understand them.’ This goes back to what I believe McLuhan is writing all of this for; to make us aware of how we can go forward with cohabiting with technology. As long as we know the effects the media has on us, we can learn to cope.

P.66 ‘ In a nutshell; -When media combine, both their form and use change – So do the scale, speed, and intensity of the human endeavours affected, as well as the ratios of senses involved – So do the environments where the media and their users are found.’ We must be at a pretty high speed today. There’s so many combinations of technology now. It’s impossible to avoid technology / switch it off, we’ve invited it in in so many different forms and now it’s here to stay.

P.123 ‘The Laws of Media. What does it extend? What does it make obsolete? What does it retrieve? What does it reverse into?’ ‘These laws are not limited to media of communication; they apply to any artifact, anything of human construction, including language and systems of thought.’ The 4 laws of media are a great way to analyse the effects they have. I especially love ‘reversal’ as it’s become quite the case for many mediums now. The one I like to look at of course is moving image. As it was once a tool to look into the natural world and enquire about the world around us, it is now the opposite, we use it as a tool for entertainment and watch programmes about the natural world instead of acknowledging it for ourselves.

P.124. ‘For “extend”, in the phrasing of the first law, we may substitute “enhance,” “intensify” “make possible” or “accelerate” depending on the case.’

P.125. ‘Obsolescence is a consequence of extension. When a medium fulfills it’s function of extending the body or replacing another medium, parts of the environment of whatever was extended become obsolete.’

P.126. (Retrieval) ‘Older structures and environments or older forms of action, human organisation, and thought are revived by the introduction of a new medium’

P.127. (Reversal) ‘When a technology is pushed to it’s limit, as when media are overheated or overextended, it can either take on the opposite of it’s original features or create the opposite of it’s intended function.’

Book Reference: ‘Understanding Media’ by Marshall McLuhan

I thought it might be a good idea to start writing about books that are informing my practice. The one that i’ve been reading most recently and has informed my practice for quite some time is Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan. In previous years however, I have read only books that give descriptions about what McLuhan writes about, i’ve never actually sat down to read one of McLuhan’s books myself. In this post I will quote McLuhan where I think his work is either striking or relevant to the things i’m interested in or have become interested in as a result. Here we go.

P.3. ‘We have extended our central nervous system … abolishing both space and time’ Here Mcluhan is talking about the use of electric technology to connect with people across the world, I think this is what he later calls ‘the Global Village’ where Earth is now merely a village, where people cohabit so closely due to the connectedness that ‘electric technology’ provides.

P.3. ‘Rapidly we approach the final phase of the extensions of man – the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society.’ I’m still unsure of exactly what he is saying here but from what I can gather, it seems as though McLuhan is saying that technology will inevitably end human consciousness? What i’m more concerned about here is how he says ‘rapidly we approach’ because this was written in 1964! Does that mean we’re already past human consciousness? When looking at the newest developments in AI I think the question becomes most relevant. But what the hell even is human consciousness?

P.4. ‘Any extension, whether of skin, hand or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex’ He does go into a lot of detail around the subject matter later on in this book and it does become more and more clear how this is so incredibly accurate. Any technology we bring into the world imposes itself on our body, mind, and social understanding. We shape the tool and the tool shapes us!

P.4. ‘The need to understand the effects of the extensions of man becomes more urgent by the hour’. This seems like the reason for why McLuhan has written this book; to study the effects of media on humans. That’s the reason why the book exists. Maybe that’s the reason why I will write what I will write; to understand the effects the subject matter has on people / society.

P.5. ‘The aspiration of our time for wholeness, empathy and depth of awareness is a natural adjunct of electric technology.’ But why is this? Maybe it’s because with technology becoming so predominant in our lives, it makes us think we have to catch up with it, to overrule it but we can’t do that so maybe we turn to to what is most organic in the world and what makes us most human to feel exactly that, more human in a world of endless technology.

P.6. Robert Theobald on economic depression – ‘There’s one good thing … a better understanding to help control for the future’ This I think is very important and can help me structure my context report; the need for control and in order to achieve this, it is important to understand the effects, just as McLuhan does with a variety of media forms. By looking at where things have gone wrong in the past and where they might be headed is so valuable when writing about the effects of technology on a human identity, and you can do this, as Theobald points out, by understanding the problem as well as the solution to prepare for the future.

P.6. ‘Examination of the origin and development of the individual extensions of man should be preceded by a look at some general aspects of the media … beginning with the never-explained numbness that each extension brings about in the individual and society’ Numbness. That’s a good word. What do these forms of media make numb? How do we get the sensation back? Maybe that’s something to look at in my practice. Retrieving the sensation?!

P.8. ‘The message of any medium / technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs’ So any form of technology that is introduced to humans changes the discourse of society?

Basketball / brain surgery is the content of electric light therefore the medium = message.

Our visual response to all media is that it’s how it’s used that counts – stupid thing to say

‘The effect of the medium is made strong and intense just because it is given another medium as ‘content’. The content of a movie is a novel / play / opera. The effect of the movie form is not related to it’s program content. the ‘content’ of writing or print is speech but the reader is almost entirely unaware either of print or of speech’

Washing machines aren’t labour saving, they just mean we all do our own work now instead of getting others to do it.

P.46. ‘Psychologically there are abundant reasons for an extension of ourselves involving us in a state of numbness. All extensions of ourselves in sickness and in health are attempts to maintain equilibrium.’

The nervous system. Body = protector of the nervous system. If we feel shame / embarrassment, we move ourselves out of the situation to protect our nervous system.

Therapy = counter irritant. Pleasure (alcohol) – counter irritant. Comfort = Removal of irritant. Pleasure + comfort = strategies of equilibrium for the central nervous system.

P.47. ‘With the arrival of electric technology, man extended, or set outside himself, a live model of the central nervous system.’ E.g. when at the dentist, listening to loud violent noises distracts from the pain of the drill. Do we live through our technology? I guess this makes sense when thinking about our online identity… who we are online vs offline, are we different people completely? Does an attack on our online personality affect our organic identity? I’d say it does as it’s still an extension, meaning it’s still a part of ourselves and our bodies.

P.48. ‘The selection of a single sense for intense stimulus, or of a single extended isolated or ‘amputated’ sense in technology, is in part the reason for the numbing effect that technology as such has on it’s makers and users’

P.51. ‘Man in the normal use of technology (or his variously extended body) is perpetually modified by it and in turn finds new ways of modifying his technology’ Again, we shape the tool and the tool shapes us.

P.117. ‘Our mechanical technologies for extending and separating the functions of our physical beings have bought us near to a state of disintegration by putting us out of touch with ourselves.’ I LOVE this quote. Probably the most out of all of the ones I’ve listed so far. Because it’s so relevant probably – we have become out of touch with ourselves because we extend so far. What actually matters to us as humans? Why do people look to religion and astrology to tell them who they are? How do we become one whole being again – unextended and pure -? The question remains, how do we feel more human in a world surrounded by technology?

P.183. Al Capps comic strip: ‘He put in his strip just exactly what he saw around him. But our trained incapacity to relate one situation to another enabled his sardonic realism to be mistaken for humour‘ E.g. real life situations / sound bytes for creature comforts.

P.198. ‘By enormous speed-up of assembly line segments, the movie camera rolls up the real-world on a spool, to be unrolled and translated later onto the screen.’ However, it’s become less about using real things and real situations and more about what we can use instead. Animation, cartoons, even ‘reality’ TV shows aren’t really reality. It’s because , I think, were always on the hunt for something bigger and better, the natural and organic isn’t enough for us anymore.

P.310. ‘In England, the movie theatre was originally called the ‘bioscope’ because of it’s visual presentation of the actual movements of the forms of life’ Maybe we have receded? Animation is just drawings and sounds. Like a comic book with no noise. Drawings and words made cartoons and words which made animations with sounds.

P.310. ‘To set a series of cameras to study animal movement is to merge the mechanical and the organic in a special way’. I also LOVE this quote.

P.310. ‘The movie is the total realisation of the medieval idea of change in the form of an entertaining illusion.’

P.310. ‘On film, the mechanical appears as organic’. Animation isn’t real and does not have to pretend to be. TV does. It has to be authentic and factual.