Guest Speaker: “Plastic Dynamism: Delightful Decomposition, Destruction, Decay, Deformation, and Digestive Designs”


Eric Paulos, Professor in Electrical Engineering Computer Science Department at UC Berkeley, will present and critique a new body of evolving collaborative work at the intersection of art, computer science, material science, and design research. He will present an argument for hybrid materials, methods, and artifacts as strategic tools for insight and innovation within computing culture. The narrative will interrogate a series of early research moving toward two primary themes – Unmaking and Decomposable Interactive Electronics.

The access and growing ubiquity of digital fabrication has ushered in a celebration of creativity and “making.” However, the focus is often on the resulting static artifact or the creative process and tools to design it. In this talk, Paulos describes a post-making process that extends past these final static objects — not just in their making but in their “unmaking.” By drawing from artistic movements such as Auto-Destructive Art, intentionally inverting well-established engineering principles of structurally sound designs, and safely misusing unstable materials, this talk will demonstrate an important extension to making — unmaking. Unmaking allows designs to change over time, is an ally to sustainability and re-usability, and captures themes of “aura,” emotionality, and personalization. He will also describe an exploration into the design of novel interactive electronic systems that leverage sustainable materials that are both dynamic and entirely decomposable.

About the speaker:

Eric Paulos is the founder and director of the Hybrid Ecologies Lab, a Professor in Electrical Engineering Computer Science Department at UC Berkeley, Director of the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Director of the CITRIS Invention Lab, a Co-Director of the Swarm Lab, and faculty within the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM). Eric developed some of the first internet telepresence robots in the early 1990s, one of the first smartwatch haptic messaging devices in 2002, coined the term “Urban Computing” in 2004, created the first citizen science air quality sensors integrated into mobile phones in 2007, and created “counterfuntional design” and “unmaking” as major research themes within HCI and Design. Previously, Eric held the Cooper-Siegel Associate Professor Chair in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University where he was faculty within the Human-Computer Interaction Institute with courtesy faculty appointment in the Robotics Institute. Prior to CMU, Eric was a Senior Research Scientist at Intel Research. Eric received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley. Eric is also the founder and director of the Experimental Interaction Unit and a frequent collaborator with Mark Pauline of Survival Research Laboratories.