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Making Multiple Uses of the Obscura 1C Digital Camera (2015)

Reflecting on the Design, Production, Packaging and Distribution of a Counterfunctional Device

SIGCHI Human Factors in Computing (CHI) 2015

James Pierce, Eric Paulos

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This project describes and explains details of the design, production and packaging of a counterfunctional device: The Obscura 1C Digital Camera. We further describe a small-scale distribution of Obscura 1C packages into everyday contexts. The paper then reflects on the various types of conceptual, imaginary and firsthand uses made of the Obscura 1C. These include its uses for everyday audiences as a unique camera and as a conceptually usable device. But we also prioritize uses particular to the HCI and design audience. These include using the Obscura 1C to articulate the concepts of inhibitive interfaces, counterfunctionality, and enabling limitations. The Obscura 1C is further used to articulate how abstract ideas can be translated into material forms, to rethink the role of packaging in user studies, and to draw attention to how discursive design objects are packaged and presented.


PAPER

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James Pierce
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Eric Paulos