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Friday, June 9 • 11:35am - 11:45am
Crip Futurity, Cyborg Disability and Designing the World Otherwise

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This talk will report on a collaboration between Laura Forlano and Itziar Barrio, which was initiated in December 2019 when they met through the New Museum’s NEW INC art and technology incubator. Building on the work of feminist scholar Alison Kafer’s Feminist, Queer, Crip, Forlano -- a Type 1 diabetic for 10 years that relies on a “smart” insulin pump and sensor system -- has developed the figure of the “disabled cyborg” in her writing in order to describe the ways in which both people as well as the technologies that they rely on might be understood to be disabled thereby highlighting the mutually entangled lives of humans and non-humans. For example, disabled people are deeply aware of the ways in which technological fixes, innovations and imagined futures around disability require incredibly intensive regimes labor, maintenance and repair. This piece will discuss the development of a series of robotic sculptures, which together form an interactive installation that engages with the themes of crip time and crip futurity; automation and labor; and, failure, breakdown, maintenance, repair and care. The robotic sculptures are fed with “alert and alarm” data from the “smart” insulin pump and sensor system as a commentary on the ways in which both people and their technologies are disabled.

When I visited Barrio’s studio in December 2020, I was struck by the ways in which the choice of materials—cement, spandex, and rubber—suggested an alternative narrative about computing in contrast to the shiny metal and glass of the latest mobile phones, tablets, and computers. In 2019, I spent the month of July transcribing alert and alarm data on a daily basis to better understand the patterns. Some of this data is printed directly on the circuit board powering the sculpture, a reminder of the human labor that is required to make automated systems work. These sculptures translate alert and alarm data into subtle movements that recall the writhing movements from four years of sleep deprivation and balloons that inflate and deflate, mimicking the inhaling and exhaling of human lungs.

avatar for Laura Forlano

Laura Forlano

Professor, Northeastern University

Friday June 9, 2023 11:35am - 11:45am EDT
PS 401 (Design Center)