Insectile Indices, Los Angeles 2027

Yeawon Kim
Graduate student
Media Design Practices
Art Center College of Design

Yeawon Kim
Graduate student
Media Design Practices
Art Center College of Design

Crime prediction technology – we have all seen it in the movies, but what has in the past been pure fiction is now quickly becoming a reality.  Predpol, HunchLab and ComStat are different types of relatively new crime prediction software, or “predicative policing” software, that demonstrate how algorithms and other technologies can be used within urban infrastructures to predict crime.  However, utilizing these technologies and algorithms to collect data to predict crime, which is invariably subject to and tainted by human perception and use, can lead to a number of adverse ethical consequences – such as the amplification of existing biases against certain types of individuals based on race, gender or otherwise. On the other hand, if data can be gathered by some artificial intelligence (AI) means – thereby removing the human component from such data collection, can doing so result in more efficient and accurate crime prediction?  Furthermore, will we in doing so also reshape the aesthetic of urban landscapes, especially when one takes into account the constant evolution of AI?

Insectile Indices is therefore a speculative design project that considers how electronically augmented insects could be trained to act as sophisticated data sensors, working in groups, as part of a neighborhood crime predicative policing initiative in the city of Los Angeles, 2027.  This project is not only an investigation into the ethics of this controversial idea, but an aesthetic exploration into the deliberate alteration to a natural wildlife ecosystem of insects and the potential reshaping of an urban landscape.

In 2007, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) asked American scientists to submit proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs, the results of which led to a plethora of troubling and worrisome commentary.  Rather than build off of a frightening narrative that discusses the potential sinister militaristic use of such technology, this project does the opposite and imagines instead an aesthetically pleasing utopia where these insect-cyborgs have social utility and work towards the public good of humanity.  Insectile indices also plays with the idea of aesthetics in our future techno-driven world by addressing whether we are more apt to silently “turn the other cheek” to more pervasive surveillance if these insect-cyborgs, or the urban landscapes they have the potential to reshape, become more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

In this session, I plan to share the process of researching and creating the visual representation of this speculative fiction.

The 45th City: Visualizing and Experiencing Fake News

Jonathan Hanahan
Assistant Professor, Communication Design
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis

Fake news is a problem created by designers. It is a problem of aesthetics, not simply content or substance. Attempts to clarify the way information from any source is rendered in the walled gardens of our social media platforms—where reportedly 62% of American adults get news information—have homogenized the visual representation of all content, reliable or not.

This presentation discusses an ongoing research project—titled The 45th City—which investigates the role that design plays in the current fake news epidemic, epitomized by the recent election of the 45th President of the United States. The project explores speculative ways of visualizing both reliable and unreliable news websites through the physicalization of code into 3D artifacts. It inquires on a real world implication of the legitimization of such entities and encourages audiences to occupy, investigate, and contemplate their relationship to digital infrastructure beyond the thin veneer of their devices.

This series of large scale 3D artifacts along with corresponding digital renderings will be on view at The Luminary in St. Louis, MO in September 2017 and the pinkcomma gallery in Boston, MA in early 2018.

Place Into Words: An Unconventional Approach To Communicating The Story of Human Space Flight

Alan Walker
MFA Candidate & Adjunct Instructor
School of Visual Communication Design
Kent State University

Alex Catanese
MFA Candidate & Adjunct Instructor
School of Visual Communication Design
Kent State University

Jordan Kauffman
MFA Candidate & Adjunct Instructor
School of Visual Communication Design
Kent State University

Many of us have experienced moments where we can’t help but stop. We slow down to take in our surroundings; the single sliver of orange hanging onto the end of a sunset, or the subtle shift in colors on a lush rolling countryside. It’s hard to describe or identify why these locations express beauty, but they move us all the same. Place Into Words challenges viewers to imagine Mars, a planet often characterized as desolate and barren, as beautiful terrain. One day future generations may know nothing other than Mars’s vast canyons or sheer volcanos. Could a distant planet offer their most beautiful place?

Place Into Words was originally produced as a part of Kent State University’s School of Visual Communication Design MFA exhi bit, inspired by NASA’s O rion program, titled Survey’s: A Design Exhibition Immersed In The Journey Between Earth and Mars. The exhibit was backed by a semester long research process of secondary and primary methods, including interviews with NASA personnel and a visit to The Glenn Research Center.

Visitors to the exhibit were met with a 20ft projection collaging archival NASA footage and landscape photography of Earth and Mars, combined with documentary style audio of ordinary people’s responses to what they consider their most beautiful place. Visitors were also encouraged to participate by typing a response into the projection display. The installation created a distinct space in hopes to provoke and stir a sense of curiosity and wonder surrounding space travel.

This presentation will include insights gained through the process of research and creation. In addition, designers will present the companion Place Into Words online interface and screen a preview of the video component. Attendees will gain a broader understanding of how speculative design might be applied to experimental installations.

Link To Video/Live Site:
http://weareletters.co/mars/