Quantified Selves | Statistical Bodies

Self-trackers are a diffuse and diverse group that quantify their lives. The tracked data can be from blood pressure, heartbeat rate, testosterone levels, posture, diet, muscle tension, social activity,  geographical position, and so on. These are things that are no longer taken for granted, instead, they are happenings to be intervened upon and made measurable. Such measurements may give insight to help rebuild a recognition of oneself, or allow a brooding recall of lost moments. This, I would say, is the manifest quantified body; a body read and a body written. Yet the quantified body is a veneer, it is the outward appearance of control, awareness and care-for-self: we were cynical subjects long before we were quantified bodies. However, self-tracking intrinsically disassociates from the ubiquitous cynical condition.
The cynical self-tracker gropes for independence whilst submitting to a life of mediated self-discovery, it is a renunciation of independent vitality so as to act “as if”, to appear to be whilst never being, which is to say: we are falling short of realising difference. It is argued here that the quantified body allocates us all to be designers  – reading and writing in culture. And as such, our actions must be critiqued as a symptom of a design practice, where the condition of subjectivity is at the forefront of value-making in taste, style and fashion. 

The second issue on Quantified Selves: Statistical Bodies provides methodological and theoretical reflections on technologically generated knowledge about the body and socio-cultural practices that are subsumed, discussed, and criticized using the key concept “Quantified Self”.





 
JAMES DYER, 2021 Ⓒ