Accepted Paper:

Inner Worlds and Material Capture  


James Wilkes (Durham University)
Holly Pester (University of Essex)

Paper short abstract:

In response to our participation in the experimental psychological method, Descriptive Experience Sampling, this paper figures the DES beeping device as a technology of experience capture. We will argue the device composes experience, and enact the drama of translating the material into data.

Paper long abstract:

In this performance paper we address our experience as participants and collaborators in Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES), an experimental psychological method which prompts the participant (in this case: us) to record the inner experiences of everyday life, randomly selected by a beeper device worn on the body. These experiences are then recounted in interviews in an attempt to reach what Russ Hurlburt, the originator of the method, describes as 'high fidelity' descriptions of inner experience.

From our perspective as poets and feminist scholars of science and technology, we argue that this method throws into question what it means to be 'subjects' in an experiment, using feminist theory (Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz) to frame the moment of the beep as a moment of subjectification.

Our presentation will re-enact the stresses and attentional shifts that DES induced in us. We will use these interventions to consider the way DES, as an experimental apparatus, dramatizes moments of self-recognition, thus constructing identities through both linguistic and embodied presence.

We will use the material produced by this scientific-performative practice (video documentation and audio recordings) to argue what is at stake in this shared experimental process: language as a hailing system in the navigation of everyday life; the 'subject' as a term wavering between the social and the experimental; inner experience as a necessarily performed phenomenon; and the making common of supposedly private qualia.

Panel T059
Making Worlds: Feminist STS and everyday technoscience