In August 2016, the MLab began work on An Illustrated Guide to Prototyping the Past, which, instead of acting as a how-to manual, outlines the problems that prompt researchers to prototype histories of media and technologies. These problems include the “scale problem,” the “imitation problem,” the “capitalism problem,” the “labour problem,” and the “rot problem.” Throughout the last few years, problems like these impelled the MLab to prototype early wearbles, early optophonics, and early magnetic recording. Rather than attempting to solve these problems, or telling readers how to solve them, our Illustrated Guide conveys how they help us better understand historical gaps, social issues, or cultural phenomena we might otherwise overlook. Each week during the 2016-17 academic year, the MLab focuses on a different problem and holds a workshop to assemble the information we’ve gathered and the illustrations we’ve created. We then polish this material for our Illustrated Guide, which we will publish in print and electronically.

Kat Piecing Together the Book

Kat Piecing Together Our Guide (photo by Maasa Lebus)

Research Leads, Contributors, and Support

Since August 2016, the following researchers have contributed to An Illustrated Guide to Prototyping the Past: Teddie Brock, Tiffany Chan, Katherine Goertz, Maasa Lebus, Evan Locke, Danielle Morgan, and Jentery Sayers, based on research by Nina Belojevic, Nicole Clouston, Laura Dosky, Devon Elliott, Jonathan O. Johnson, Shaun Macpherson, Kaitlynn McQueston, Victoria Murawski, William J. Turkel, and Zaqir Virani. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund supported this research.

Sketch of the Scale Problem, by Danielle

Early Sketch for the Guide (by Danielle)

Project Status

This project is ongoing, and completion is expected in 2017. An Illustrated Guide to Prototyping the Past will be available in print and also electronically (open access). To follow the project as it progresses, see the stream of posts below.

Post by Danielle Morgan, attached to the KitsForCulture project, with the fabrication, physcomp, and projects tags. Featured image for this post, of Kat, Tiffany, Teddie, and Jentery working on Chapter 1 of our Illustrated Guide, also by Danielle.


More about Danielle Morgan

Visiting Artist and Researcher, MLab