a three year research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust and hosted at UCL (October 2021-24). The project aims to better understand how biohybrid systems may come to affect our bodies, lives, and societies. It will create a sociological research framework grounded in three interlinking ethnographies.
Image courtesy of Kate Devlin
They are one strand of Living Machines – the other two being biomimetics and synthetic biology. Biohybrid systems “couple biological entities with synthetic ones in a rich and close interaction” (Prescott, 2021 – Keynote at Living Machines Conference). These couplings scale from the nano (i.e. cells) to the large (i.e. organisms).
Copyright Marvel Comics group 1978: Man-Machine
In Art bodies express. Bodies have long been a focal point when responding to, creatively interacting with, or resisting the concept of biohybrid systems and Living Machines. There are a range of contemporary artists that explore and provoke through their practice. How do such works resonate with audiences? Can collaborative ethnographic practices with artists stretch the sociological imagination?
In Sport bodies perform. Athletes’ bodies are always being fine-tuned. The encroachment of technologies (and pharmaceuticals) into sporting arenas has always pushed the boundaries of what sport is, and what is deemed possible or indeed natural. This can bring attention to certain bodies and practices in socially and politically charged ways. Emerging biohybrid systems are entering these space.
In Industry bodies produce. Workers are being inserted into the mechanisms and machines of production in new ways. Investors and developers are seeking to harness the productive potentials of new and intimate body-technology configurations. Industrial exoskeletons, for example, are being trailed in manufacturing and construction sectors.
Birthday Card drawn by Chris Barker (Dad)
- Introducing a Sociological Research Programme for Living Machines￼In March I delivered a guest lecture for the UClick’s MSc in HCI as part of their module in Affective Interaction. Here is the abstract of the talk, In this guest lecture Ned will make the case for the combination of sensory, creative, collaborative, and ethnographic methodological approaches to inform HCI research and design practices. These methodsContinue reading “Introducing a Sociological Research Programme for Living Machines￼”
- Forging Collaborations in Your Early Career Last week I took part in a panel discussion alongside Meghna Nag Chowdhuri, Maria Long & Michael D’Aprix on becoming a collaborative/interdisciplinary researcher. The discussion was organised by the UCL Collaborative Social Science Domain PhD coordinating group (@UCL_Social_Sci) and was chaired by Nuoya Tan. Together we discussed a range of topics, including: Why do weContinue reading “Forging Collaborations in Your Early Career “
- Biohybrid Bodies: a short introductionThis post introduces the project to a broad audience with a view to peak interests and initiate conversations – if any aspect of this work resonates with you I would love to hear your thoughts!