Critical Technical Practices
Critical technical practices, or practices of technology-building that
incorporate a critical, cultural perspective, are growing in importance
along with the interdisciplinary area between computer science, art, and
The term "critical technical practice" was coined by Phil
Agre in his landmark book Computation
and Human Experience, which described the development of his own
critical technical practice in his Ph.D. work on autonomous agents and
planning at the MIT AI Lab. The Narrative Intelligence
Reading Group at the MIT Media Lab picked up the baton, developing
many approaches to AI and interfaces which incorporated ideas from media
theory, ethnomethodology, and cultural studies. Electronic artists
who build systems (i.e., artworks) that incorporate a critical perspective
on technology, are another important force in the area.
Phil Agre is the
inventor of the term "critical technical practice" and an important founder
of the field.
Csziksentmihalyi builds technical artefacts that could have existed
in an alternate history
work is an eclectic mix of robotics, `pure' AI, and influences from philosophy,
phenomenology, and philosophy of science.
Natalie Jeremijenko is a design
engineer and technoartist, whose pieces use technology to intervene in
Brenda Laurel uses
a deep understanding of the cultural placement of computational artefacts
in order to design appropriate soft- and hardware.
Mateas work is an Expressive AI: an AI-based art practice, or an art-based
AI practice. It integrates philosophical and cultural analysis
with ground-breaking technical development in a practice of generating
artworks. His piece Terminal
Time - a collaboration with technoartist Paul
Vanouse and documentary filmmaker Steffi
Domike - is both a successful, interesting art project and the first
example of interesting automatic story generation.
Simon Penny does
beautiful interdisciplinary work in art and robotics, including robotic
artwork and cultural critique of computational science.
Warren Sack combines
interests in language, psychoanalysis, art, and computational technology
(among many others).
Phoebe Sengers (i.e.,
me!) integrates cultural studies and computer science to understand and
build technical systems as cultural artefacts.
Please email me if you
would like to be added to this list.