understanding through mapping

One of the only many overwhelming things about doing research is, how do you start to make sense of it? I’ve been compiling information for the past couple of weeks on understanding environmental remediation. I’ve been taking a page from George Marcus’ work on multi-sited ethnography in following a thing and that thing is Superfunds. There’s the specific location of the site itself, as a geographic location, but as I’ve started to dig in, it starts to spread out in different forms – such as the federal website that holds all the documents (cyberinfrastructures), the different equipment, tools and protocols used to determine presence of contaminants, and questions of future land use (the land adjacent to one of the sites I visited is actually for sale..). One question that I’ve been asking myself, is “how do we know if remediation is happening?” – is it evident through the sign on the site that says “RECLAIMED LAND KEEP OFF”?, or the site that is keeping progress, or the readings on the instruments used? While asking these questions is good, sometimes it is also helpful to start laying things out to understand the “space”.

So this past week I started mapping out different connections in thinking about Superfunds. Here is my map in progress, approximately 2 feet by 3 feet, taped up onto the wall in my office. Things are drawn in Sharpie and colored in with marker, with connections made in highlighter (not the most visible on kraft paper).

As someone who is more visually inclined, it is helpful to understand the elements of this space. I actually went into this mapping process with Donna Haraway’s article “Awash in Urine” in mind. In this article, she lays out this entangled history and narrative around estrogen hormonal therapy that spans and transverses across different timelines, locations and species. This is also tied into coming across Elaine Gan’s work in understanding entanglements through visual mapping. Although Gan’s style is far more elegant than mine, it does serve as a jumping off point in thinking about how to approach a subject that is super entangled.

Detail shot! On some of these sites, you can actually see the opening to the old mine. Also included, a sign that is on the site, barrels of removed waste, a “for sale” sign, HRS (Hazard Rankings Score) that is above 28.5 which indicates a site needs to be remediation, and a dog!

River and list of contaminants found at a particular site. Also included is fish! (dead and alive), and above ground monitoring systems. How do we trust this interpretation of sensor technologies in order to understand remediation? Can we have situated data that brings context to data when we are examining it?

fishing person

Sometimes drawing on paper can be frustrating because it is so stationary, especially if you choose to use sharpie! So this past Friday, I made laminated drawings and made them into magnets! Now these “actors” can be manipulated and moved on a magnetic whiteboard around as I try to build some form of understanding!

Hand Substrate Interface Continued..

This post is a continuation of a previous one regarding building a conductive tattoo for my interface.



In building a conductive temporary tattoo following the DuoSkin paper, I realize that there was a difference in thinking how the circuit needed to function for the soil sensor circuit. In order to read the resistance between the two fingers in the soil, parts of the traces need to be exposed in order to get the reading. However, the circuit that is created by the tattoo is insulated, covered by either adhesive or the silicon base of the temporary tattoo paper. As an experiment to try to create exposed circuits that would stick to the stick, I tried different types of base adhesive to see how the gold leaf could be applied to the surface.  Tutorials from makeup blogs shows that eyelash glue for applying false eyelashes or petroleum jelly could be utilized to hold gold leaf to the skin.



In this image, I have applied a thin layer of eyelash glue to my ring finger. The tube for the eyelash glue made it easy to squeeze a thin straight line onto my finger. On the other hand, applying the petroleum jelly was trickier since it was hard to tell if I was applying a straight and uniform line to my finger. I used a cotton swab to put a thin coat on my pinky finger.


This image shows a few experiments with creating different traces that can be worn on the body. The pinky uses petroleum jelly as an adhesive to hold the gold leaf onto the skin. On the ring finger, eyelash glue is used to hold gold leaf onto the surface. Then on the middle finger, I used some conductive paint by Bare Conductive, and finally on the index finger, I went for a combination of using petroleum jelly to hold gold leaf to my finger nail and then using the conductive tattoo as a trace connecting the nail to the finger.

For a base adhesive, eyelash glue worked better than the petroleum. The petroleum jelly was effective in holding the gold leaf to the skin, however the greasiness of the jelly caused it slide around. The eyelash glue on the other hand dries very quickly so the gold leaf needs to be applied soon after putting down the glue in order to create a bond that can last.

For the conductive paint, there was a high resistance across the short trace, a property of this conductive paint that can make it difficult to be used across a distance. With the temporary tattoo and petroleum piece, it was an interesting way to consider exposed and insulated parts of the trace, though it was hard to apply the two pieces in order to have the connect the two pieces.

Overall, one issue with making the exposed trace was to keep the pieces from flaking or falling off through use. Placing traces on fingers also pose a particular challenge because the traces would then need to be flexible and robust enough to bend and move with the fingers.  The benefit of the insulated trace allows it to be secured to the skin, making it more robust, especially along the fingers, however cracking did occur after awhile through normal bending of the finger.

In referring to DuoSkin’s research and other work with conductive skin traces, most of the pieces were adhered to flatter places on the body away from joints such as the forearm, chest, upper arm or back. Applying the conductive traces to the fingers for this project is still a challenge in determining how to create a temporary circuit that can reside on these jointed sections and how to create both exposed and insulated traces. However, pursuing this research may allow us to understand how these circuits can be worn on different parts of the body, allowing for other types of interactions such as environmental sensing.

Prototypes: Forage Storage Pt. 3

Pt. 3 of Forage Storage prototypes is the Sleeve Storage. This design adds in additional panels on a sleeve so that your arms can store additional items. The idea comes from thinking about where added storage can be added to clothing that normally doesn’t have storage and designing it so that it doesn’t interfere with the movement of that area. forage storage 2


For this prototype I first made a single sleeve out of a yellow canvas fabric. The pattern is based off of tracing an existing long sleeve shirt and the edges were completed using a serger to prevent any fraying. I chose to do this over building on top of an existing jacket or making a whole jacket from scratch so  I can just focus on working with just the sleeve. IMG_7113

With the sleeve model, I first used kraft paper to model where the panels can fold over and expand. Using the measurements that I got from the paper models, I used ripstop nylon make the panels and window screen material for the pockets. They are held in place with velcro and held to the sleeve using safety pins.

IMG_7120  IMG_7122IMG_7124

I went with two different designs for the panels, one for the upper arm and one for the lower arm. The lower arm design is attached to the sleeve at the bottom and wraps around the arm. The upper arm design is attached to the sleeve from the top to middle portion so that the panel folds open and only occupies about half of the arm. The lower arm design could potentially store more items, though it is a little tricky to reach around the forearm to release it.

In building these prototypes for forage storage  I have tested working with various materials and concepts for collection of physical artifacts for mushroom hunting. These designs can definitely be applied for other fields and uses, but is primarily designed to allow a person to more effectively collect fungi.