Sunday, 27 January 2008


The Construction of New Subjectivities in the Era of the Mobile Phone

Read Miya Yoshida's Ph.D. dissertation here.

Mobile Gleaning

A three week undergraduate course offered by the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Konstfack University College of Art, Craft and Design, to investigate urban mobile culture and experience in contemporary Stockholm via the use of mobile phones in public spaces.

The mobile phone is today omnipresent, used not only for direct verbal communication but also as notebook, still camera, audio recorder, photo album, music storage device, texting interface, blog updater, miniaturised laptop, and, increasingly, video camera. What is the untapped potential of the technology itself? What impact does this portable multi-function device have on how we interact with our surroundings? How does does it delimit contemporary urban culture?

The contemporary urban commuter, the flaneur or flaneuse, not only observes fragments of urban life, but recontextualises such fragments. She walks equipped with a powerful device for a range of documentation, ready to gather, accumulate and immediately forward snapshots of her daily experience.

How are these fragments re-combined to create a broader context of communication and connectivity? How does such ”mobile gleaning” play out the centrality of interpretation in our interaction with our everyday urban surroundings?

Course contents and organisation:
The course spans three weeks. These are divided into three topical units:

1. Mobile
Mobile urban culture and the specific features of the mobile phone
2. Gleaning
The flaneur/flaneuse’s experience of her contemporary surroundings and the gathering of transitory impressions
3. Mobile Gleaning
The intentional gathering of observations and impressions as fragmentary documents; questions of coherence, context, interpretation and illegibility.

Each unit comprises lectures, discussions, film-screenings and studio work where the students will explore the role of the mobile phone in contemporary cultural experience by practically employing mobile phones in their work. As a final task, the students will be invited to gather short observations on a specified theme. They thus collectively produce speculative documentation concerning an imagined event which (in the absence of mainstream media coverage) is then edited into a narrative account of the enigmatic occurence, proposing interpretations and forms of witness testimonies to conditions of profound uncertainty.


Tanja v. Dahlern, M.A.,
Background in documentary film and alternative media.

Rolf Hughes, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Design Theory and Practice-Based Research
Research through Practice/Experience Design Group
Dept. Of Interdisciplinary Studies
Konstfack University College of Art, Craft and Design

Gleaning (acc. to Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary)

The corners of fields were not to be reaped, and the sheaf accidentally left behind was not to be fetched away, according to the law of Moses (Lev. 19:9; 23:22; Deut. 24:21).

They were to be left for the poor to glean. Similar laws were given regarding vineyards and oliveyards. (Comp. Ruth 2:2.)

Bertolt Brecht, "The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication"

In our society, one can invent and perfect discoveries that still have to [...] justify their existence [...] Thus there was a moment when technology was advanced enough to produce the radio and society was not yet advanced enough to accept it. The radio was then in its first phase of being a substitute: a substitute for theater, opera, concerts, lectures, café music, local newspapers, and so forth. This was the patient’s period of halcyon youth. I am not sure if it’s finished yet, but if so then this stripling who needed to certificate of competence to be born will have to start looking restrospectively for an object in life.

The Metropolis and Mental Life by Georg Simmel

adapted by D. Weinstein from Kurt Wolff (Trans.) The Sociology of Georg Simmel. New
York: Free Press, 1950, pp.409-424

Recommended reading from Tania.