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ISEA2015: The 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art
avatar for Brad Tober

Brad Tober

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Assistant Professor
Champaign, Illinois, USA
My research focuses on speculative investigations of emerging and novel technologies in the interest of identifying potential relationships to design practice. In part, my work aligns with UK-based design firm Dunne & Raby’s concept of critical design, which is described as using "speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions, and givens about the role [designed works] play in everyday life." The term speculative refers to the fact that much of my work is explorative, experimental, often without immediate application, and does not serve an end-user (or consumer) audience in the same way that commercial design work might. Instead, my actual audience consists of—and my work intends to provoke—other designers: those currently working in the field and those entering it in the near future. Accordingly, my research mirrors the way in which a scientist might conduct pure (or basic) research to establish a foundation for other scientists to subsequently build upon.

As a designer who investigates emerging and novel technologies (particularly those that are interactive), my work requires both conceptual (in terms of design ideation and planning) and technical (in terms of design execution) skills. One of the most valuable technical skills that a designer can have is the ability to write computer code, as it enables a comprehensive and cohesive approach to designing for and with technology, and so my ability to code substantially characterizes the way I position myself as a designer.

Also, as my work is concerned with expanding the scope of design through technological experimentation and exploration, I must consider the other designers that will practice within the new boundaries I am setting for the discipline. Consequently, much of my academic research both argues for including computer coding (along with its associated principles) as part of a designer’s professional preparation and proposes methods for doing so most effectively.

I am available for freelance design work, invited speaking engagements, and workshops, both near and far. I am interested in forming productive collaborations involving both design research and practice. Please contact me regarding your opportunity!