My recent thoughts on "what is research" focus more on "creation" and less on "examination." So I think of my current and future research groups as a research studio (versus a lab) where we explore and create knowledge, ideas, expressions, practices and artifacts.
Research and Design Projects
Culture for a caring ecology
Our current field-building project aims to integrate Earth ethics into smart technological developments through co-designing cultural expressions and practices with designers. We hope to build a richer understanding about ecology and smart technology and critique mainstream meaning systems pertaining to smart technological developments. To do so, we review and learn scholarly work on Earth ethics, equity and ecological thinking in diverse fields such as philosophy, art, literature, anthropology and so on. We ask questions such as "where do algorithms exist in the ecology of Earth?" We approach ecology from the perspective of relationality that explores how diverse forms of Earth beings live together with one another. A relationality perspective thus heralds ambiguity and complexity in imagining Earth future.
This project contests a smoothly maintained disconnection between online/virtual experience and Earth ecology. For instance, attentiveness as an ecological practice is antithetical to how attention is typically elicited on social media. We seek to open the space of the imaginary by building an interactive website/game for empowering speculative designs about alternative forms of social media sites. We're working to build an inventory of behavioral, affective and cognitive features as “legos” that people can experiment with building diverse virtual public places.
Culture and algorithm-mediated ecology: ideas and practices
Current discourses pertaining to smart technology and sustainability have mainly focused on using technology to advance technical solutions or reducing technology's negative environmental impact. However, inquiries into whether AI will help or hinder sustainability might be beside the point if smart technology's ecological embeddedness is not unpacked in the first place. This curriculum development project aims to build and teach a rigorous body of knowledge drawing on diverse disciplinary traditions to delineate and make explicit ecological foundations of smart technological systems. We seek to address two questions: (1) What are cultural meaning systems that may have obscured perceptions about the ecology of smart technology? (2) How do smart technological systems configure human condition and experiences in ways that ultimately implicate human relationships with the ecology? In addition, students will learn to develop practices that animate ecological thinking in the design and use of smart technology.
Messengers from the future: imagination as a deliberate practice
Progress on environmental action entails progress on how we imagine a livable Earth future. In this 2-hour workshop, we introduce a set of embodied, creative exercises for participants to imagine and create short stories about Earth future as seen from the eyes of future birds. We wish to convey that active imagination is a deliberate practice necessary for addressing many wicked problems in the context of climate change and technological developments. We also experiment with using generative AI as "relational technology" to refine and illustrate the stories attendees create. The workshop ends with sharing of stories and a discussion on how to critically engage with the power and peril of imagination. We hope to conduct this workshop with diverse audience. Contact me if you're interested in having me teach this workshop at your organization or community.