Eccentric Engineering

Panelists Tega Brain, Karolina Soebecka, Danja Vasiliev and Ramsey Nasser will discuss recent artistic experiments, exploring infrastructural space from eccentric and critical perspectives.

Dysfunctional devices, weird technologies, awkward interfaces – this is eccentric engineering. Straddling art, engineering and design, eccentric engineering is creative work that explores how systems and infrastructures might be re-imagined and built upon atypical design criteria. These often marginalized creative practices enable us to consider the politics of our existing technologies and give glimpses of other possibilities. What if our technologies privileged empathy over efficiency? Or if our infrastructures were built to accommodate more than exclusively human needs? How might everyday technologies be designed to represent and amplify our interactions with the non-human, rather than conceal them? As we collectively face environmental and social change in the context of the Anthropocene and increasingly ubiquitous technologies, these curious and eccentric practices suggest how we might build systems to include many other voices and agendas.

Karolina Sobecka works with animation, design, interactivity, computer games and other media and formats. Her work often engages public space and explores the way we interact with the world we create. Karolina received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from Calarts in Experimental Animation/Integrated Media. She has also studied and taught in the University of Washington’s Digital Arts and Experimental Media PhD program. Karolina’s work has been shown internationally. She has received awards from, among others, NYFA, Creative Capital, Princess Grace Foundation, Rhizome, Platform International Animation Festival, Vida Art and Artificial Life Awards, and the Japan Media Arts Festival.

Danja Vasiliev is a Critical Engineer born in Saint-Petersburg, currently living and working between Berlin and New York. Vasiliev studies Systems and Networks through anti-disciplinary experimentation with hardware, firmware and software. Using computational platforms he engages in examination and exploitation of System and Network paradigms in both the physical and digital realms. Based on these findings, Vasiliev creates and exhibits works of Critical Engineering.  Since 1999 Vasiliev has been involved in computer-technology events, media-art exhibitions and seminars around the world. He has received a number of awards and mentions at Ars Electronica, Japan Media Art Festival, and Transmediale, among others. In October 2011, together with his colleagues Julian Oliver and Gordan Savičić, Vasiliev coauthored The Critical Engineering Manifesto. He gives public workshops and talks, as well as regularly teaching courses on topics of network insecurity, software/OS modification, hardware re-engineering, digital forensics and other technology related subjects. In his work and daily computing, Vasiliev uses GNU/Linux software. He propagandizes Open Source practices in all facets of life.

Ramsey Nasser is a computer scientist, game designer, and educator based in Brooklyn. He researches programming languages by building tools to make computation more expressive and implementing projects that question the basic assumptions we make about code itself. His games playfully push people out of their comfort zones, and are often written in experimental programming languages of his design. A former Eyebeam fellow and a member of Kitchen Table Coders, when he is not reasoning about abstract unintuitive machines, he builds and maintains vintage motorcycles.

Tega Brain is an Australian born artist and environmental engineer born working at the intersection of art, ecology and engineering. My work is a form of eccentric engineering and it reimagines quotidian technologies to address their politics.  It takes the form of site specific interventions, dysfunctional devices, experimental infrastructures and information representations. She was a 2015 artist in residence at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in New York and is also an Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY Purchase. She has taught and learnt at the School for Poetic Computation and has recently exhibited work at Eyebeam, NYC, the Science Gallery, Dublin and the Australian Design Centre. In 2013 she was awarded a Creative Australia Fellowship for early career artists from the Australia Council for the Arts.