The Biopolitics of Interface Design

Gabi Schaffzin // This week I read two pieces which had me thinking about the ways that our bodies are controlled via an often overlooked field in the health humanities: interface design. The first, Mark Paterson’s 2018 essay, “The Biopolitics of Sensation, Techniques of Quantification, and the Production of a ‘New’ Sensorium,” was sent to…

Authentic Empathy & Therapeutic Alliances (Part 2)

In a previous Synapsis post, I introduced the notion of the Therapeutic Alliance (TA) – an active ingredient of psychopathology and psychotherapy. I discussed the antecedence of therapeutic relationships formed between victim service providers (VSPs) and male victims of sexual assault (e.g. rape, molestation, sodomy, etc.). My interest? Their therapeutic and extra-therapeutic rehabilitation and healing, and how this process (a continuum of healing, more or less) is impacted by social stigma. Male victims infrequently seek care, making further scholarship in this domain problematical, but welcoming.

The Smile: A Confusing Expression for Every Occasion

James Belarde // “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” -Thích Nhất Hạnh One of the biggest smiles I’ve ever flashed came after purposefully having my jaw broken, subsequently facing a six-week period where I couldn’t chew. While this sounds masochistic at…

The Empathy Chamber

Bennett Kuhn // Around us were dusty stacks of forgotten hardcover books and crowd members circulating in the now-defunct Beaumont Warehouse venue in West Philly. The three-night immersive multimedia art project called Going There was in full swing, and a short queue led up to the table where I sat with two synthesizers welcoming strangers…

Pen to Paper

Gabi Schaffzin // Elsewhere, I’ve written about Henry Dreyfuss’s The Measure of Man and the Humanscale Manual, which came along soon after. Briefly, The Measure of Man is a guide for industrial designers, complete with scores of anthropometric data points. It features hundreds, if not thousands, of meticulously calculated measurements of various human bodies. To the industrial designer, engineer,…

After diagnosis: releasing cdr_ (2013-2019)

Bennett Kuhn  //  Artist Alfred Darlington (p.k.a. Daedelus) recently tweeted What’s that thing you are still working on, that could already be considered done, but you haven’t quit on trying to perfect it, even though there is no standard to compare it against; remaining undone and no end in sight? I encountered Alfred’s words at…

The World We See – Part 6: Art that Moves, in More Ways than One

Lara Boyle // At first glance, Naum Gabo’s Kinetic Construction is nothing special. A thin, motionless steel rod extends from a pit located in the base of a black square. With the push of a button, however, the rod springs to life. The rod wiggles back and forth as a motor beneath the base whirs with…

Laughing at Death – Part 2: When the Dying Tell Jokes

James Belarde “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go.” -Oscar Wilde, shortly before succumbing to illness In Mumbai, India, a kind-looking elderly woman sits on a stool behind a microphone and calmly quips “Life is like that TV journalist Arnab Goswami. Never take it…