The qcollaborative undertakes design research projects that extend and interrogate the lab’s commitments. Our projects are typically collaborative, paced to encourage reflection, and funded (by grants or industry partnerships). They fall into four research areas.

1. Feminist Placemaking

We seek to better articulate how feminism does and can operate in public spaces through the lens of performative social media interventions. Intersectional feminism, design research, performance, and technology all rest on the basic premise that human beings exist and act only in relation to other humans and non-humans in shared environments and communities; in other words, in publics. We privilege a “relational” understanding of human existence.

2. Materializing the Digital

Through the process of making, thinking, and remaking, we explore the personal, social, and ethical consequences of abstracting people, environments, communities, or experiences into digitally-based data. As creatures of embodied cognition, the value of material interaction goes beyond simple understanding into the visceral and implicit forms of knowing and doing. In this area we are interested in strategies for leveraging the power of the digital to inform new modes of physical interaction with customized material cognitive artefacts. Whether taking professional visualization tools for the digital humanities into mechanical devices, or developing new analytical tools that exist through physical models, this range of projects interrogates the significance of embodied interaction in ways that challenge the unquestioned hegemony of the digital.

3. Remediating Experience

We’re considering the nature of spaces co-created by performance, media, text, and interactivity. Our approach is to leverage the history of experience design in corporate settings, both reconceptualizing and re-situating these practices towards design for social good. For example, in our project for the design of experience in liminal spaces such as theatre lobbies, we explored ways of encouraging audience members to expand the interpretive lenses that they were bringing to the performance.

4. Design for Social Justice

We are interested in projects that pursue strategies for mending existing social fabrics or creating new ones from whole cloth, whether under conditions such as post-conflict zones in the jungles and coastal towns of Colombia or audience development for justice-oriented arts organizations. Our interests also extend into the digital where we seek to interrogate the sometimes negative genres of specific technologies that stand in stark contrast to our working list of 6 foundational critical feminist design practices (Radzikowska, Roberts-Smith, Zhou, and Ruecker forthcoming):

  1. Challenge existing methods, beliefs, systems, and processes;
  2. Focus on an actionable ideal future;
  3. Look for what has been made invisible or under represented;
  4. Consider the micro, meso, and macro;
  5. Privilege transparency and accountability; and
  6. Expect and welcome being subjected to rigorous critique.