The Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University

The Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL) is an experimental laboratory at Harvard University that promotes innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnography.

Aesthetics is a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art and a branch of philosophy that deals with the principles of beauty and artistic taste.

Ethnography is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study.

SEL uses analog and digital media to explore the aesthetics and ontology of the natural and unnatural world.

Analog media could be a painting or dance or any other non-digital media like a CD or DVD.

Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

Harnessing perspectives drawn from the arts, the social and natural sciences, and the humanities, the SEL encourages attention to the many dimensions of the world. The SEL provides an academic context for the development of creative work and research conducted through audiovisual media (film, video, photography, and phonography) that complement the human sciences’ and humanities’ written words and quantification.