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Behnaz Farahi
: Your Gaze Hits the Side of my Face: Critical Computational Design

W.M. Keck Hall
November 16, 2022 at 6:00pm

Behnaz Farahi
Principal Studio Farahi
Assistant professor, California State University, Long Beach

Trained as an architect, Behnaz Farahi is an award-winning designer and critical maker based in Los Angeles. She holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Media Arts and Practice from USC School of Cinematic Arts. Currently she is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Design, California State University, Long Beach. She explores how to foster an empathetic relationship between the human body and the space around it using computational systems. Her work addresses critical issues such as feminism, emotion, perception, and social interaction. Farahi has won several awards including the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Digital Design Award, Innovation By Design Fast Company Award, World Technology Award. She is a co-editor of an issue of AD, 3D Printed Body Architecture (2017) and Interactive Futures (forthcoming).

In Your Gaze Hits the Side of my Face: Critical Computational Design, Farahi asks: Can computational design be critical? Or will various forms of bias always be found embedded in AI and other computational systems? Could materials be augmented with interactive technologies so as to influence our social interaction? Could surveillance act as a form of resistance? This presentation offers a reflection on these questions, and explores the notion of critical computation. It addresses the discourse of the gaze, and surveillance feminism in particular, using some critical computational design projects by way of illustration. From wearables to architecture, these projects demonstrate an application of techniques, such as EEG brain imaging, facial expression, and gaze tracking as well as robotics and novel actuator systems, such as smart materials and pneumatics systems.