Thesis Abstract (version 0.2)

Written by on 19th September 2011 in "Official" Papers, Thoughts with Leave a comment

We live a computational world with increasingly blurry lines between our physical and virtual lives. One that is more orderly, more systematic, and more governed by algorithms. As technology gets pumped out faster and faster, ubiquitous computing pervades everything from our built environment to our front pockets. Technologists are often rushing forward, in the name of progress, without looking back to understand the effects (or missed opportunities) in their wake. Focusing on the “how” instead of the “why” these new pioneers develop faster and better ways of systemizing, quantifying, and tagging the world, making us more modular and predictable like the very machines we rely on.

But where is the space for human intervention and interpretation? How can we humanize technology instead of technologizing humans? “People’s behavior is largely influenced by the context in which they live…When we design spaces (real or virtual), we need to take responsibility for the types of behavior those spaces are likely to encourage.” (Jonathan Harris) What type of behaviors do our current real and virtual spaces value? I value chance, subjectivity, and platforms for discovery through research “on open water” versus “on the ground,” as Terence Rosenberg calls it. Following a hunch instead of purely scientific logic is a process too nuanced to be predicted by anything other than a human. With these values in mind, I want to reshape our everyday technologies from our banal software, to our homogenous hardware, to the places where we interact with these systems and each other. I chose to not accept arbitrary systems of so-called progress. I too believe “deep within every rational system holding societies together are assumptions that, if taken to their logical conclusion, tend toward absurdity.” (Blaine Merker) I want to hack into these assumptions by modifying, recontextualizing, and repurposing the “new-yesterday-but-now-obsolete” technologies and built environments of tomorrow. I hope to discover more personal and meaningful experiences as “an alternative to the programmed myth that there is only one future on the flat graph that goes up and to the right.” (Julian Bleecker) And perhaps in the process, I can create a scaffolding for others from a diverse background to form their own experiences.

I love working in within the increasingly blurry zone between physical & virtual life, between high-tech & low-tech, and between work & play. Growing up in the mid-west as a relatively privileged upper-middle class woman of color, I’m especially interested how ideas about culture, class, and community currently (and could possibly) manifest in our increasingly technological world. I come to the table with my expertise in graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, animation, and making. I also have a strong interest (and experience) in collaborating with people like product designers, architects, game designers, and programmers to compliment my skill set.

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