The Underdistanced

The Underdistanced
Name The Underdistanced
Location Internet
Date 2020/07/20-2020/07/24
Time 12:00-13:00
PeopleOrganisations Inte Gloerich, Gabriele Ferri
Type HDSA2020
Web Yes
Print No

In these first months of the pandemic, many have practiced social distancing, but others could not do so. Those without a home, a stable job, legal protections, documents or access to digital technologies have fewer chances to protect themselves against contagion. We call them “underdistanced and undernetworked,” as they have more difficulties to isolate themselves physically and to access networks of care. We propose this workshop as we believe that the social and political implications of being underdistanced and undernetworked risk to remain in the background in this time of crisis. Considering the many tech-driven solutions mentioned by the media (smart bracelets, tracing apps, drones…), we wonder what life the “new normal” will offer to those with less access to online/offline care networks. With a speculative making approach, we want to materialize fictional but plausible objects that the underdistanced might self-build to navigate the “1,5 m society” to take care of themselves.

With the prime concern that the “new normal” of Covid will push some people even more to the margins, participants explored the social, cultural, and political effects on disadvantaged people of the technological solutions proposed to mitigate the pandemic, by creating speculative objects set in July 2021. By taking a critical look at the current Covid solutionist craze, they extrapolated which technologies might be deployed in the next year, and speculated about which hacks might be necessary for the underdistanced & undernetworked. Materializing them into speculative artifacts helps to better understand how it would feel to be marginalized in a (probable?) scenario where Covid-19 is dealt with through top-down tech-driven solutions. What could be designed and implemented now to make the pandemic response more inclusive?

This workshop took place over 5 days and was conducted asynchronously. Everyday had a specific theme and was a step in the process. Participants contributed to a shared collection of artifacts at the end of the week.