Steampunk

Some of my more recent research work has focused on the notion of “design fiction”, an exploration on the role of fictional imaginings on the creation of physical design outcomes.

As part of my work at Intel Labs, I helped to coordinate an exhibit of design fiction work, focused on idiosyncratic fictions that yielded tangible artifacts, called Powered by Fiction.

The character Captain Chronomek, which I developed in collaboration with fellow SIAT graduate students Allen Bevans and Josh Tanenbaum, was featured in the show. Captain Chronomek was originally developed for the TEI 2011 Student Design Challenge as a time-traveling superhero.  Josh presented the costume at the conference in Portugal and we took home first prize in the “Inventiveness” category.

I recently co-authored a paper with Ron Wakkary and Josh Tanenbaum on Steampunk as Design Fiction, presented at CHI 2012 in Austin, Texas. In this paper, we explored how the alternate past of Steampunk fiction functions partly as a critique of modern industrial practices, and how the rise in popularity of the Steampunk aesthetic indicates a longing for the return of artisanal practices in technology design.  It was nominated for Best Paper.

In addition researching Steampunk, Josh and I also make Steampunk costumes, props, and art pieces as part of our work at Tanenbaum Fabrications. We had a booth displaying our work at the 2011 Vancouver Mini-Maker Faire, and were later interviewed about our Steampunk creations for a local news magazine.  (See the Press page for further details)  In May 2012, we were part of a collaborative booth at the Bay Area Maker Faire along with a handful of our awesome friends and colleagues, called The Steampunk Academy.  We also exhibited on our own at the Portland Mini-Maker Faire in September 2012.