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Audrey Desjardins: Data Imaginaries

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Submitted on September 13, 2021 - 12:36pm
Hands with device on wall
Photo by Yuna Shin. Visual design by Edith Freeman.


September 21 – October 9, 2021

The Jacob Lawrence Gallery is pleased to present Audrey Desjardins: Data Imaginaries, featuring the work of Audrey Desjardins, Assistant Professor of Interaction Design at the University of Washington’s School of Art + Art History + Design. In Data Imaginaries, Desjardins showcases a series of poetic interactions with domestic data, exploring familiar encounters between humans and things.

The exhibition features five projects by Desjardins: in Data Epics, fiction writers use data from home Internet of Things devices to create short stories for the occupants to read. Voices and Voids, an artistic research project with Afroditi Psarra and Bonnie Whiting, is grounded in performance and experimentation to transcode voice assistant data. ListeningCups, a collaboration with Timea Tihanyi / Slip Rabbit Studio, embeds a set of 3D-printed porcelain cups with datasets of everyday ambient sounds. Alternative Avenues, a collaboration between Desjardins and home dwellers, imagines what the Internet of Things could be if it were designed for unique individual homes. The Odd Interpreters seeks to broaden people’s encounters with data in the context of their home, pushing them to engage directly in data collection and to consider the hidden entities, infrastructure, and labor that support connected devices.

Shown alongside Audrey Desjardins: Data Imaginaries will be two installations originally created for the 2021 Seattle Design Festival. Vacant Seattle by Studio Matthews — the design studio led by Kristine Matthews, Associate Professor of Visual Communication Design — looks at what has been lost in Seattle over the course of the pandemic and invites participants to collectively re-imagine our city. Hello, World!, by UW design students Isabella Ceriale, Isabella Gaule, Sophia Johnson, Peyton Todd, and Charmaine Yabut, aims to help reconnect people to themselves and their communities as we inch our way towards emerging from the global pandemic.

The Jacob Lawrence Gallery is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10am to 5pm (with a 20-person limit), Fridays and Saturdays by appointment.


September 30 at 5:30pm

Audrey Desjardins gives a lecture titled "Data Imaginaries: Between Home, People and Technology."

Register to receive the Zoom link.

About the Designer

Audrey Desjardins is an interaction designer who speculatively and critically examines how people live with technology. She designs interactive artifacts and systems that reimagine the familiar co-existence of humans and things, often in the mundane space of a home. As a design scholar, she believes that the design and making of artifacts is a rich site to articulate questions, to propose alternatives, and to provoke reflection.

Her recent work reconceptualizes data generated by home-connected devices such as smart thermostats, voice assistants, and smart plugs. Instead of the spreadsheets and dashboards often used to represent this data, Desjardins proposes new modes of encountering data: ways that are creative, critical, subtle, performative, and at times analog or fictional. By translating data into ceramic artifacts, performance and interactive installation experiments, fiction stories, imagined sounds, faded fabric, and even data cookies, she shows a diversity of approaches for engaging data that might capture people’s attention and imagination. As a result, this work uncovers ways to make data more real, showing its messiness and complexities, and opens questions about how data might be interpreted, and by whom. This gives people critical tools for rethinking their own relations to home data.

In addition to being an assistant professor at UW, Desjardins is director of Studio Tilt, graduate program chair for the Master of Design, and adjunct assistant professor in Human Centered Design and Engineering. She holds a PhD and Master of Arts from the School of Interactive Arts + Technology at Simon Fraser University, and a bachelor's degree in industrial design at Université de Montreal. Her work has been published in top-tier, peer-reviewed international venues such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI), Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS), Conference on Creativity and Cognition (C&C) and Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) and has been awarded six honorable mention awards. Desjardins’ research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Mozilla, and the Mellon Foundation. For more information, visit her website.