Desire Lines: Quantified-Self-Portraits Produced with a Fitness Tracking Watch

Woolley, Dawn ORCID logoORCID: (2023) Desire Lines: Quantified-Self-Portraits Produced with a Fitness Tracking Watch. In: Wearable Objects and Curative Things: Materialist Approaches to the Intersections of Fashion, Art, Health and Medicine. Palgrave Studies in Fashion and the Body . Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 211-237. ISBN 978-3-031-40016-2


I am an artist and researcher examining self-tracking practices to understand how these forms of measurement and judgement employ an ideology of health to produce particular (gendered) neoliberal subjects. My fitness tracking watch records bodily movements and presents data as indicators of health. The watch encourages self-optimisation and competition. In contrast, the performances I track do not focus on health or self-improvement but bring attention to hidden labour, often gendered and unpaid, such as admin, cleaning and care. In Desire Lines, the geolocation diagrams produced when working at home are reproduced in linocut prints. These prints, and my body of work on quantification, aim to contextualise self-tracking data within the personal, social and political environment, undoing the propensity of neoliberal capitalism to present health as a personal responsibility and consumer choice. This chapter discusses some positive and negative aspects of self-tracking practices and the Quantified Self movement to outline the position from which I appropriate self-tracking techniques as creative practice-based research methods. By viewing quantification through a queer, feminist lens I hope to draw attention to the inequalities that are concealed by neoliberal notions of health. Using a phenomenological approach, I describe some of the preliminary findings of this ongoing research, including the augmented and outsourced ways of looking and varying temporalities of self-tracking.

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