Journal Paper: Situated Computations

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July 2020 – My paper, “Situated Computations: Bridging Craft and Computation in the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival” was published in Dearq.

Hand crafts, and the people who practice them, are typically seen as opposite to digital technologies. This paper challenges this split and proposes eight principles for developing computational design tools that facilitate productive interactions across handcrafts and computational media. I derive these principles from my ethnographic and design studies of the wire-bending craft, which has been practiced in the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival since the 1930s, as well as from my development of an experimental digital design tool to build 3-D lines in space, informed by these studies. The tool, which enables users to generate linear designs and fabricate them using linear materials such as wire, is presented as an instrument to codify, reflect upon, and extend the Trinidadian wire-bending tradition. This paper acknowledges the Trinidad Carnival as a contested design space, political arena, and creative outlet through which individuals and communities express their imagination, innovation, and craftsmanship. Building on scholarship in computational design, science and technology studies (STS), and human-computer interaction (HCI), the paper delineates ‘Situated Computations’ as an approach to computational design tool-making that grounds these technologies in the social world by acknowledging the historical, cultural, and material contexts of designing and making.

Link to paper >>

Cite this paper:
Vernelle A. A. Noel. “Situated Computations: Bridging Craft and Computation in the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival”. Dearq, no. 27 (2020): 62-75.


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