Design@Large Lecture Series

Hosted by the Design Lab present


Please note that this May 13th installment of the Design@Large Lecture series has been postponed. Design Lab is working to find an alternative date. However, there is no specific time frame at the moment. Design Lab will notify you as soon as a new date is found.

The intelligent vehicles that are emerging in the contemporary landscape are often referred to as driverless, yet they are hardly characterized by the ejection of bodies. The driver remains in the same place, and largely appears intact. What has changed? Behaviors, certainly: there may be no need to keep the eye on the road or hand on the wheel. When glimpsed from a distance, the body positioned at the console remains the driver: moving down the road from the perspective of another vehicle, we assume the person at the wheel to be driving, even though the tasks of operation might now be in the hands of the autopilot. At other scales -- the transport infrastructure, the psyche -- this figure is a component of operational aggregates that exceed the limits of the body to which the "driver" designation is applied.

Is it the driver's body itself that changes, or the actions, abilities, and functions that characterize it? The distinction is a false one, for the body is nothing other than these moves, capabilities, and roles, in their material and materializing interplay with the properties and capacities of the vehicle itself. Far from being jettisoned, we might suggest that the driver moves closer to the vehicle that it operates -- more intricately sharing its supports and attributes, more intimately engaged with the travel choreographies that ensue. As well, it moves farther, out into the larger cognitive environments that inform and assist thinking and the transport infrastructures that provide sensory and operational aid.


Jordan Crandall is a media artist and theorist, and Professor of Visual Arts at UC San Diego. He is the 2011 winner of the Vilém Flusser Theory Award for outstanding theory and research-based digital arts practice, given by the Transmediale in Berlin in collaboration with the Vilém Flusser Archive of the University of Arts, Berlin. His project UNMANNED -- recently performed at Transmediale in Berlin and the V2_ Institute in Rotterdam -- is a blend of performance art, political theater, philosophical speculation, and intimate reverie. It explores new ontologies of distributed systems, and the status of the human in a militarized landscape increasingly dependent on automated technology. Crandall is currently developing a new project called DRIVER, which continues these investigations in the context of intelligent automobiles and automated systems of transport.



Photo of Jordan Crandall is courtesy of the Artist.


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