Completed thesis: Sezgi Kaya on technology use in Type-I Diabetes

Sezgi Kaya has successfully completed her Master’s thesis, titled “Biosociality and product design: User practices in Type 1 diabetes management” in November 2019 (Supervisor: Harun Kaygan). Congratulations!

Her thesis involved netnography of a social media diabetes forum, followed by interviews with users of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems. She documented users’ biosocial practices around device use with special regard to how the devices contribute to the visibility of the illness and how the devices coordinate the patients’ care networks. She was also interested in the user-experiential implications of dynamic, real-time monitoring of glucose.

Sezgi and I will present the findings of her thesis at the Chronic Living conference in Copenhagen 23-25 April.

ID723 Design Cultures and the Human Body: Fall 2016-17 Syllabus

Images, from left to right, top row: (1) “EXERCISES 1–3: Exercising the mus-cles of the face, neck, and head […] helps maintain the tone and contour of the facial skin and musculature. It will also ‘train’ the muscles to control unattractive facial expressions.” In: Way Bandy, Designing Your Face: An Illustrated Guide to Cosmetics, 1977 URL. (2) “Proper proportions of a love seat.” In: Francis de N. Schroeder, Anatomy for Interior Designers, 1948 (Illustrations by Nino Repetto, Henry Stahlhut, and Mario Carreño) URL; (3) “BentoLab” low-cost portable DNA analysis lab. bottow row: (4) “Vehicle”, Krzystof Wodiczko, 1973. (5) “A leather and metal rod limb”. In: “Disability Information Resources (DINF), Disabled Village Children, Chapter 67 (Artificial Legs)” URL

We have done the first ever semester of the course, ID723 Design Cultures and the Human Body. We read theoretical pieces, stories, and comics; we watched films, TV series, and anime; we talked about products, and practices. We had the most stimulating semester!

My thanks to Dr. Aret Karademir (METU Philosophy) and Dr. Melike Şahinol (Orient-Institut Istanbul), who gave excellent lectures as part of the course; and to all students for their enthusiasm and hard work.

You can find the syllabus here.

New course: ID723 Design Cultures and the Human Body

Here is the poster for the new graduate I offer from Fall 2016-17. The syllabus will follow.

the human body has been a prominent object in design, as designers routinely refer in their practice to observations of and speculations about bodies, their capabilities and limitations, as well as the common postures and practices. such references are value-laden and so politically relevant; design practice is never merely a matter of optimizing products for existing bodies, but through its products empowers or precludes, makes visible or invisible, glorifies or stigmatizes, brings forth or destroys bodies.

we will focus on medical products; with readings on biopolitics and material semiotics and from medical STS; seminars by visiting scholars; film and documentary screenings, case study exercises of existing products and design projects in our vicinity. key topics include embodiment, discipline, cyborg, posthuman, normalization and quantification, molecularization of life. cases include synthetic biology, biohacking, mobile health; reproductive technologies such as assisted fertility and ultrasound; prosthetics such as cochlear implants; brain machine interfaces, etc.

Thomas Carpentier - L’homme, mesures de toutes choses
Thomas Carpentier
“L’homme, mesures de toutes choses”
Image borrowed from here.

Paper at DGTF Tagung 2015: Reassembling Relationships

We presented a paper at the 12th Annual Conference of the German Society of Design Theory and Research (DGTF): Reassembling Relationships: People, Systems, Things in Potsdam on 16–17 October 2015. Below is the abstract:

Hande Işık and Harun Kaygan, “Reading the Body: Assessing Emerging Health and Wellness Technologies and Interactions”

Recent growth in the development of innovative technologies for healthcare and wellness have enabled the redesign and even the overall transformation of processes, services, and products for health-related activities. In this context, emerging trends in health technologies prioritize the empowerment of users to maintain their health and prevent any problems before they occur. For this purpose, emerging technologies become more and more personal and pervasive in users’ everyday lives, anytime anywhere (Connely et al., 2006; Varshney, 2007; Weiser, 1993; Fox & Duggan, 2012). Technological features such as context awareness, implicit and calm interaction and similar others play a crucial transformational role in product development (Weiser, 1993; Poslad, 2011). Mobility and wearability come to the fore as means to enable such features in ways that to fit the needs of health and wellness technologies, making it easier for the latter to maintain a constant connection with users’ lives (Consolvo et al., 2008; Kuru, 2013; Movassaghi et al., 2014). These technologies work constantly at the background, collect user data silently, and remind its presence only when necessary, dramatically changing current conceptions of human product interaction (Pellegrino, 2006; Weiser & Brown, 1997).

Such technological change has been increasingly blurring the boundaries between people, mobile technologies and their interaction by making technologies work as extensions of humans, and in turn, people as extensions of technologies. Thomas Fuchs (2006) compared the effects of these developments to schizophrenia, as they dissolve the boundaries of body and experience through constant, mobile and long-distance outward connectivity (as by Internet) and reify the patient/user’s subjectivity through constant inward monitoring of bodily and psychical processes (as by MRIs). Indeed, as users and mobile technologies get intertwined through the above mentioned technological interfaces, bodily processes are unearthed, explored, mapped, and represented to users so that they gain awareness on their bodily processes, with guidance to change or maintain these processes purposefully , and thus even reimagine themselves.

If we are not to follow Fuchs’ line of argumentation that argues for a pretechnological human authenticity, and accept the mutual construction of humanity and technology, such technologies of healthcare and wellness call for a systematic analysis in terms of their premises and effects. Indeed, one can say that these technologies have political implications in that they rely on and sustain today’s dominant biopolitical mode of governance that concerns itself with individuals’ health and well-being (Lemke, 2011; Foucault, 1980). On the other hand, as Verbeek (2012) formulates, an ethics of new technology has to differentiate between dominance and power, and acknowledge that a transparent and continuous companionship of human and technology enables the former to develop awareness of and thus actively construct itself.

Regarding the question of how and to what extent these technologies can and do empower their users in self-constitution while eluding dominating effects, the literature on their design and consumption focuses largely on the pragmatic aspects of interaction. This paper aims instead to present a systematic analysis, referring both to the theoretical framework discussed above and to human computer interaction studies in order to reveal how new positions and relationships are being established and transformed around these technologies. In order to do this, we examine a number of mobile health and wellness products, assessing their representations of bodily processes, especially as regards issues of transparency and empowerment. The selection of products is carried out based on the innovations in interaction that bring bodily processes into view. These include monitoring apps and products, which read bodily processes such as sleep cycles, heart rate, and brainwaves, rendering them graphically observable and manipulable to some extent; running and exercise apps that keeps track of routines while at the same time enabling creative connections, for example, amongst people or between people and landscape; and others, such as the Smartbra, which objectifies emotions to regulate eating behaviour. The analysis results in a unique systematic perspective that brings pragmatic and critical views together and thus fill the gap in the literature, especially on design.

Final projects for ID 708 2014-15: Mapping Technology

In the Spring semester of 2014-15, we ran ID708 Critique of Design II as a team of four: Harun Kaygan, Pınar Kaygan, Osman Şişman, and Şenöm Yalçın. We had an inspiring selection of readings, and a series of four assignments which then formed the basis of individual final projects — a heterogeneous set, from performances to videos. Many thanks to all our students for their hard work.

Below you can view some of the final projects:

1. Open Cake by Özümcan Demir (performance)

The Open Cake performance tries to create an event where every individual would listen to an audio recipe and contributes to the creation of The Open Cake Book by writing their own recipe. In order to do that, participants should combine what they hear with their personal sensorial history, memories, experiences, and intuitive knowledge.

Open Cake Session

Soundclip is here. Sample recipe pages from the workshop below.

Open Cake Recipe 2-1Open Cake Recipe 6-1Open Cake Recipe 17-1


2. Superencypher Rhizome Machine by Selin Gürdere (poster presentation)

Machine produces the flow of desire codes and these codes constantly are remanufactured in different forms by infusing themselves into everything. … This is the production of production. … It composes constatnly new events, new desires and thoughts. So this cycle goes to infinity.

superencypher rhizome machine


3. What Holds Things Together by Duygu Bostancı & METU Contemporary Dance Group (performance)

Refrain. Refrain Machine. Movement. Human. Move-ment. Move-mental. Mental move. Mental? Physical? Body. Body-move. Dance. Choreography? Dance-writing. Could dance be written? Improvisation. Inter-action. Inside-action. Within the body. Butoh? Affection-body-movement. Body-movement-affection. Movement-body-affection. Movement-affection-body-ground. Ground-theoretical ground. What is theoretical ground of this performance? Deleuze-Guattari-Guattari-Deleuze-Deleuze-Guattari-Laura Cull-Portanova Spinoza? One less manifesto-deleuze philosophy of performance. –Escape representation–(Cull, 2009: 5 )

DuyguB_WHTT 2
DuyguB_WHTT 1

Images from the performance


4. The Lady Slipper and The Bee by Pelin Aydıner (fiction)
Short piece of fiction and video work, depicting the lady slipper orchid and the bee as a Deleuzean masochist couple. Here is a taste:

On a hot summer day, flying above the trees, floating in the air, feeling the breeze- I saw it. My body felt weightless, my legs trembled. Diving from the top of the tree, I let myself into the arms of the bulb of colour.

Come here- come to the whore of Babylon- Haven’t seen your kind for months! Spread my smell, bring those feet to me, bring those wings.

Blood rushing through my body, my eyes bright, my body letting itself go down- I want it, I told myself. I want it now! Let me feel it, let me smell it, eat it, suck it.

The scent got stronger as I was getting closer. I wanted to be filled with it, I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to -be- it.


I remember the bright pink colour. I have felt a lot of colours, but this one struck me more than anything. I almost lost my sensation, the control of my body when I saw it. The colours got more vibrant, stronger and stronger. I could see the bright lights peaking out of the petals, the bulb was screaming my name.

Check your back- is there anyone behind?

Come to my body. Water it with the extracts of other flowers. Swim in my dust, spread it with your wings. Let your desire scream. Let my desire control yours, I will let you control mine.

Final projects for ID 708 2013-14: Cyborg Ethnographies

We have completed a very successful and entertaining semester in which we focused on “interaction”, and explored ways to develop radical understandings of the concept beyond its individualist and anthropocentric interpretations, especially with reference to new materialist literature. We are grateful to all our students for their hard work. Below you can view some of the products of the course:

Crossing The Legs (WIP) by Duygu Bostancı & Şeyma Sarıbekiroğlu

The research topic chosen was crossing one’s legs. The relations between placing one leg over the other and gender, class, etc. are examined through found photographs.

This video was made by using only one photo. Work in progress.


Becoming Radio by Hande Işık

With this project, human radio interaction is approached by referring to the moments in which they become a complete “machine” together (Deleuze & Guattari 1983), while the actors that are distributed over this interaction network (Law, 2009) is presented, and the role of radio as a dispositif (Foucault, 1980) is adressed.

The project comprises an installation with a collection of photographs depicting the author’s grandfather interacting with radio as well as other communication devices. The photography is complemented by audio featuring excerpts from the author’s family recordings and from Turkish radio.

Becoming Radio project by Hande Işık, 2014. Produced for the course, Critique of Design II 2013-14 Spring.

Becoming Radio project by Hande Işık, 2014. Produced for the course, Critique of Design II 2013-14 Spring.


Çek Bi’ Yarım by Emre Çağlar

This is a short video about looking at street food and food consumption on the public space from different scales and angles.