Natalie Jeremijenko and Nigel Snoad

Up-coming guest lecture by Natalie Jeremijenko, one of our favorite ecological engineers, along with Nigel Snoad of Microsoft on April 6th at Parson’s Lang Center, in New York City.

Up-coming guest lecture by Natalie Jeremijenko, one of our favorite ecological engineers, along with Nigel Snoad of Microsoft on April 6th at Parson’s Lang Center, in New York City.

Tuesday, April 6.

The Lang Center
55 West 13th St., Second Floor
New York City

Natalie Jeremijenko, director of xdesign Environmental Health Clinic at New York University in conversation with Nigel Snoad, technical evangelist and product manager, Microsoft Public Safety Initiative.

Speaker’s Bios:

Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist whose background includes studies in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering. Jeremijenko’s projects—which explore socio-technical change—have been exhibited by several museums and galleries, including the MASSMoCA, the Whitney, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt. A 1999 Rockefeller Fellow, she was recently named one of the 40 most influential designers by I.D. Magazine. Jeremijenko is the director of the environmental health clinic at NYU, assistant professor in Art, and affiliated with the Computer Science Dept.

Jeremijenko directs the xDesign Environmental Health Clinic []. The Environmental Health Clinic develops and prescribes locally optimized and often playful strategies to effect remediation of environmental systems, producing measurable and mediagenic evidence and coordinating diverse projects to effective material change.

Recently, Jeremijenko’s work was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial of American Art and the Cooper Hewit Smithsonian Design Triennial 2006-7. Jeremjenko’s permanent installation on the roof of Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea Model Urban Development(MUD): provides infrastructure and facilities for high-density bird cohabitation in an environmental experiment in interaction with the New York City bird population.

Her work is described as experimental design, hence xDesign, as it explores opportunities presented by new technologies for non-violent social change. Her research centers on structures of participation in the production of knowledge and information, and the political and social possibilities (and limitations) of information and emerging technologies — mostly through public experiments. In this vein, her work spans a range of media from statistical indices (such as the Despondency Index, which linked the Dow Jones to the suicide rate at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge) to biological substrates (such as the installations of cloned trees in pairs in various urban micro-climates) to robotics (such as the development of feral robotic dog packs to investigate environmental hazards).

Jeremijenko is also a visiting professor at Royal College of Art, in London and an artist not-in-residence at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto. Previously, Jeremijenko was a member of the faculty in the Visual Arts at UCSD and in Engineering at Yale.

Dr. Nigel Snoad and Robert Kirkpatrick are members of the Microsoft Humanitarian Systems and serve on the executive committee for Strong Angel III; both participated in Strong Angel II in 2004.

Microsoft Humanitarian Systems (MHS) is an expeditionary team under Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, tasked with investigating and building working models of advanced solutions to address collaborative aspects of some of the most vexing, emotionally-charged, and least-served human interaction problems, including relief, development, conflict resolution, human trafficking, and human rights. The team is founded on the premise that significant, forward-looking collaborative solutions can emerge when they are designed for – and developed in – complex environments where networks are unreliable, equipment fails, trust is lacking, training is minimal, users are highly mobile, and information overload is the norm.

The team’s primary objective is to compress the discovery cycle for technical innovation by rapidly building solutions in the field in order to learn what works, what doesn’t, and why – sooner than would be possible in a less challenging setting. By subjecting prototypes to extreme degrees of the same technical and social pressures that are also present to a lesser degree in typical business settings, MHS seeks to identify novel architectures, usage models, and solutions that match interaction patterns occurring in such hostile and stressful environments.

This approach of developing solutions in the field may be seen as a kind of inverse incubation, in which engineers are taken to the field to work side by side with their intended users and subject themselves to the same cultural, operational, and environmental complexities in which their solutions must perform. Through this form of extreme immersion, MHS aims to achieve a high level of design validation. The focus on edge-based, in situ discovery is intended to provide an early glimpse into emerging requirements. MHS projects explore how technology can be leveraged to address difficult collaboration problems in an area of critical need, with the expectation that lessons learned from these experiences be applied to the design of software and services for the information worker of tomorrow. Throughout the journey, MHS’ goal is to do good for affected populations, and to contribute meaningfully to the development of better tools for those who have dedicated their lives to humanitarian causes.

An advisory council of experienced leaders and subject-matter experts drawn from the relevant communities of practice guide MHS in identification of projects, design of solutions, and evaluation of results. With the help of these advisors, MHS selects projects from a range of domains within the humanitarian sector, focusing on areas and processes where improved collaboration has the potential to yield a more effective response. Project domains include child survival, peace and conflict resolution, global pandemic response, human trafficking reduction, demobilization of child soldiers, market systems for the poor, maternal-child health and nutrition, human rights monitoring, civil-military cooperation, refugee care and case management, and humanitarian relief. Recent MHS work includes building collaborative solutions for distribution of relief to earthquake victims in Muzaffarabad, Kashmir and prototyping telemedicine tools for virtual pathology in rural Afghanistan.

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