Critical Computations: Designing with and for

Dina El-Zanfaly
Critical Computations: Designing with and for

In this talk, I discuss critical and participatory computations to design better human-machine experiences in creative practices. To ground this discussion, I will share examples of my recent work: a sandtable for embodied sketching with generative AI; a design tool for rapidly prototyping spatialized audio for augmented reality; experiments in imagining new interactions with data in shared spaces, and hybrid toolkits for craft learning. Human-machine interactions are intangible experiences, which are open to different interpretations. This makes it challenging to adapt to and design for different contexts. My work aims to not only investigate novel interaction approaches but to elicit key design principles and frameworks: How do human-machine interactions enable new forms of creativity, communities of design practice, and cultures of collaboration? How can we reveal and inform these interactions? How do we accommodate their growth and variation within larger systems or contexts?

Dina El-Zanfaly is a computational design and interaction researcher and an Assistant Professor in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). She directs the hyperSENSE: Embodied Computations Lab, where she examines the role of computational design in embodied sense-making that includes human perception, cognition, and everyday experience. She studies interactions with computational systems from a critical lens, and the emerging social and technological implications of introducing them. These interactions span the areas of hybrid environments, artifacts, computational methods, and tools. She investigates the questions of: how can intelligent machines and systems learn from us? and how can we learn from them? How can we work together to create and improvise?

Dina has recently received Google’s Research Scholar award. Before joining CMU, she worked as a visiting assistant professor at Northeastern University's College of Arts, Media and Design. She worked as a research associate at the MIT Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is a co-founder and co-director of Fab Lab Egypt, the first maker community and netwrok in northern Africa and the Arab world. She earned her Ph.D. degree from the Design and Computation group at MIT, where she also earned her Master of Science in Design and Computation while being a Fulbright scholar. 

Lectures are free and open to the public. Lectures will be held Thursdays at 6 PM ET in 7-429 (Long Lounge) and streamed online unless otherwise noted. Registration required to attend in-person. Register here or watch the webcast on Youtube.