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September 29, 2023

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Project studies student’s technology use, injuries

Looking at a computer for hours a day for school and work caused Megan Adams to need glasses.

Adams, a graduate student in the Rhetoric and Writing department, said technology has affected her physically, and she will be photographing other individuals who have had similar experiences.

After being approached by Estee Beck, a graduate student in the department of English, about a project that deals with the way using technology affects people physically, they began to work together.

Beck is creating an installation project that will be shown at a conference in June in Frostburg, Md. called Computers and Writing.

The installation will be a ceiling-to-floor projection of photographs that show how technology has affected their participants over time.

“Eye prescriptions will change over time, or they will get a writers callous, they might have carpal tunnel or a curvature of the spine,” Beck said. “This is all from years and years of being hunched over and using technology.”

Junior Brittany Lee said she currently does not have any physical problems caused by technology, but she can see it happening in the future.

“Since getting an iPhone, I’ve been using it all the time,” she said. “I heard you shouldn’t use it an hour before bed, and I do that.”

The idea for the project came to Beck while she was reading about cyber feminism, and how women are using the internet to talk about empowerment.

Cyber feminism is how women use online spaces, and how the empowerment encourages women to get online and participate.

“I started to see within cyber feminism a group called subRosa,” she said. “They go around and create installations that are provocative and really get people to think. I was inspired to do an art installation.”

Beck studies digital rhetoric and technology, and began to wonder what it means when we use technology, the idea then came to her that technology uses us.

“I looked at all the ways technology has left imprints on my body, and how my body has changed as a result of years and writing over a computer,” she said.

Adams said the photographs will show the specific body part affected by technology.

“We talked to one woman who has carpal tunnel and she had to have surgery because of it,” she said. “We will probably take photos of her scars. That’s one way of showing this effect.”

Beck said they are still looking for participants to be photographed for the project.

“Anybody who is willing to participate is welcome,” she said. “We are trying to get it out to as many people as possible. If they are interested, we will talk to them, and if they want to participate we have a release form and we go from there.”

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