INVESTIGATING NORMAL: TECHNOLOGY AND THE FUTURE OF THE BODY
Sara Hendren is an artist, design researcher, and professor at Olin College of Engineering, outside Boston, where she runs the Adaptation + Ability Group. Her recent work, including Slope Intercept and Engineering at Home, involves collaborative mixed media projects and social design work on technology, the human body, and the politics of disability. Sara writes and lectures on prosthetics, disability studies, hybrid art-engineering practices, critical design, and related topics. Her first book, on the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design in everyday objects and environments, is forthcoming from Riverhead/Penguin.
Is it possible to engineer an inclusive social future? An artist in an engineering school, Sara's work is driven by questions about human ability in tech-driven cultures. What counts as normal capacity? Which technologies liberate, and which confine? Drawing from disability studies, design research, social practice art, and urban planning, her work is a restless, hybrid body of projects that yield both designed objects and a disposition toward research. This discussion will take up whether a single making practice—part design, part art, part engineering—can both solve problems and ask questions when engaging the complicated cultural topic of disability.