Article from IRAAA Special Issue on Science, Technology and Art
By Michele Y. Washington
A dynamic husband-and-wife team is creating innovative, technology-based projects that merge design, art, computing, and social justice. Both work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Ron Eglash is a professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, and Audrey Bennett is an associate professor in the Department of Language, Literature and Communication.
Audrey Bennett’s efforts span scholarly research (in communication design theory); social activism (in participatory design that involves users in the design process); professional design for clients; and creative, graphic arts that reflects her Dartmouth College studio art background. She has an M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale University. Her work in participatory design led to a book, Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design (Princeton Architectural Press), and the development of GLIDE: Global Interaction in Design, a biennial, virtual forum and research hub on our ever-changing world of design and technology.
The October 2010 virtual conference brought together a distinguished group of design educators, graduate students and researchers from across the globe in real time communication. Covering a broad range, the topics included the use of design solutions to help the indigenous, marginalized people of southern Mexico build business capacity; green design concepts in Asia; and the use of digital technologies in teaching and research in Pacific communities.
During the GLIDE 10, keynote presentation, Ron Eglash discussed his research on the vernacular knowledge systems of global, indigenous cultures and the need to dispel myths about these groups as being backwards, “primitive,” illiterate. He also discussed his world with African American, Puerto Rican and Native American cultures in the United States. In applying these systems for use in design and education. Eglash cautioned that sensitivity is required to make sure that these users are beneficial to the people who created them.
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