Ways of Seeing, Ways of Sensing

Session Overview

Date and Time: Monday, August 19, 11am – 12:30pm

Location: Broad Theater, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, Los Angeles

Livestream: Free for EPIC Members

Ethnography is powerful because it engages multiple methodologies for seeing, sensing, and interpretation. These presentations share innovative approaches and demonstrate the value of different forms of presence, whether the sensors are our bodies, machines, or both.


Seeing it from Other Eyes: How First-person Data Reshapes the Role of the Applied Ethnographer


Eryn Whitworth, UX Research, Meta Reality Labs Research
Maria Cury, Partner, ReD Associates
Ariel Abonizio, Senior Consultant, ReD Associates
Mikkel Krenchel, Partner, ReD Associates
Maya Potter, Consultant, ReD Associates
Gabriel Coren, Senior Consultant, ReD Associates
Tamara Moellenberg, Senior Manager, ReD Associates

Collecting data on what people see, hear, and experience through AI-enabled wearable technology opens a new way of understanding people, communities, and societies that has the potential to fundamentally change the social sciences and elevate applied ethnographers. The rise of this kind of first-person data also provides an invitation for applied ethnographers to help influence and direct the core engineering and research science work of developing next generation technology across areas like computer vision and foundational AI. This paper examines the potential of first-person data and how it might transform and expand the role of applied ethnography in the future.

Eryn Whitworth is a member of the Project Aria team at Meta’s Reality Labs Research. Eryn leads UX/UI efforts across multiple surfaces and topics, including interaction design, hardware evaluation, and responsible innovation. As a practitioner, Eryn blends ethnographic and laboratory methods to create insights from qualitative and quantitative data triangulation.

Maria Cury is a partner at ReD Associates. She studies the role of new technology and media in daily life to advise on product development, visioning, and strategy. She has led projects on AR/VR, haptics, and autonomous vehicles, and has conducted foundational studies on topics such as the smart home, computing, the role of entertainment media and books in people’s lives, and the human senses in tech. She has a background in anthropology, the arts, and cultural institutions.

Ariel Abonizio is an anthropologist, artist, and business strategist who specializes in advising global technology companies on product and corporate strategy from inception to implementation. At ReD Associates, Ariel informs product, engineering and business leaders on how to design for thorny human concepts like trust, misinformation, cultural representation, and intimacy.

For over a decade, Mikkel Krenchel has helped build ReD’s presence in North America, advising executives while building the firm and the practice of human science in business more broadly. He focuses on how ideas around disruptive technologies shape our lives for better or worse. He also serves as an advisor and thought partner to leaders at some of the world’s largest social media companies, telecom providers and electronics manufacturers, and clients across the finance, energy, and industrials sectors.

Maya Potter has worked across the worlds of emerging technology and cultural fandoms for companies across industries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in World Heritage Studies. Prior to joining ReD, Maya worked with NGOs and development organizations in South Asia.

Gabriel Coren is a senior consultant with ReD Associates. As an anthropologist of science interested in emerging relationships between living nature and technology, he has conducted ethnographic work with biologists and engineers around the world. He earned a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Tamara Moellenberg is a senior manager at ReD Associates, leading mixed methods projects to define the future of emerging technologies and services. She has a background in literary and cultural studies. Prior to joining ReD, she completed her doctorate on conceptions of childhood in West African literature as a Clarendon Scholar, focusing on themes of socio-cultural identity and agency.

Sankofa: Look Back, Side-eye the Future


Sasha Ofori, User Experience Researcher, YUX Design

This PechaKucha is an invitation into Sasha’s journey, probing questions such as: What is the true meaning of empathy; self-empathy? How does it manifest, especially in the African context? How does Sasha safeguard her well-being while being fully present for those she serves and works with? What lessons from Sasha’s experience of being a full-time caregiver can inform an approach to “empathy” as a researcher? This a practical inquiry of a researcher using methodologies inherent to our work to initiate these conversations. Because, in looking back and reflecting within, we might have a glimpse of the future ahead.

Sasha Ofori is a Ghanaian-based UX Researcher at YUX Design, specializing in the application of design thinking and HCD methodologies across sectors; health, education, agriculture, and technology, leveraging research to create positive impact in Africa. As a young professional, these experiences have ignited a profound passion in her to delve into the nexus of empathy, self-discovery, and mental health within the realm of research in Ghana. Sasha actively documents her learnings on her Medium.

Displacing the Mind to the Body: Connecting Tissues of Context by Cultivating Social Presence


Nora Morales-Zaragoza, Research Professor & Graduate Program Coordinator, UAM Cuajimalpa
Blanca Miedes-Ugarte, Research Professor, Universidad de Huelva UHU, Spain

In this paper Nora and Blanca explore two embodied social arts-based methodologies, “warm data” and “social presence theatre,” to understand complex social system theory, challenging our regular ways of knowing as ethnographers and designers in our foundational practice. They reflect on workshop experiences with different cultures, where body attention is returned to signals and interaction of social presence, and draw a blueprint to bring back attention to the body in a world where augmented reality and digital technologies are limiting our major source of perception, hoping to impact applicable resources for the audience.

Nora Morales-Zaragoza is a full-time researcher professor in Information Design at the Department of Design and Theory, where she coordinates the Master Program. Her research interest relates to interdisciplinary facilitation tools for collaborative processes and the role of embodied based methods and visual narratives for future socio- ecological urban transitions. She is a founder of the UNESCO Futures Chair at UAM Cuajimalpa and holds a PhD in Social Sciences and Humanities.

Blanca Miedes-Ugarte is Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Huelva (Spain). She is a Deputy Director of COIDESO Researcher Center and coordinates the Iberoamerican Laboratory of Socioecological initiatives. Her main line of research is in collective intelligence and cooperative governance. She is currently working on issues related to socio-ecological innovation and design for transition and the development of transformative actions and policies. Blanca has a PhD in Economics.

An Apprenticeship in Attention for a Time Between Worlds


Indigo Weller, Research Consultant, Stripe Partners

Through a story of intergenerational sense-making and reminiscing, this PechaKucha argues that the guiding measure of an ethnographic encounter is the quality of presence and play, not the extractive rush to ‘actionable insight.’ It asks us to re-examine our conceptions of expertise; the supposed ‘depth’ of in-depth interviews; and the need to welcome serendipity and silence.

Indigo Weller is a consultant and narrative researcher with a background in patient advocacy and medical education. Prior to joining Stripe Partners, he served as a development editor for patients writing illness memoirs and legacy projects. He is a facilitator for the European Reminiscence Network, an international dementia arts initiative, and holds degrees in Bioethics, Narrative Medicine, and Creative Writing.