Reading Group: Tuesdays 22, 29 September, 06, 13 October, 2015

DEFAULT DESIGN and DESIGNATION was one of two Robotics Residencies which took place Summer/Fall 2015 in partnership with crit paper, Pleiades Inc. and HALIFAX. It consisted of a series of written reports by Esmé Hogeveen and opportunities for public dialogue, including a month-long weekly reading group on the topics of default design and designation in relation to contemporary robotics development.

Default refers to a preselected option, typically one that has been programmed within a computer or mechanism, deployed in the absence of a choice by the device user. Default is a failure to fulfill an obligation. This work investigates the paradoxical nature of these definitions in relation to the conflation of pre-selection, neutrality, and the natural in contemporary life and technology. In the “era of post-cyborg theories of bodies and consciousness,” Hogeveen was curious about how “the language and materiality of robotics portend an alternative concept of origin, one that is contingent upon the human interpretation of default”.

Why do we behave in certain ways? How is the status quo established? In the context of evolving robotics technologies, how are programmed notions of default mediating our encounters with habit, normativity, and machines?

The Default Design and Designation Reading Group was a public forum for discussing the influence of *default* in contemporary life and technology. The goal of this series was to inspire speculation amongst diverse participants in a comfortable, conversational setting about the relationship between technological, pre-programmed experiences of default, and everyday life. Readings – from a variety of art, culture, and scientific sources – were posted on this site:

Esmé Hogeveen is a reader, writer, and editor based in Toronto. In fall 2017, she will be a PhD candidate at York University’s Art History and Visual Culture program focusing on issues of judgment and phenomenological intuition relative to gendered (female) visuality. She holds an MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research from the Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland, OR), a BA in English and Contemporary Studies from the University of King’s College (Halifax, NS), and was a recent participant in the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) and the Gonzago Institute at the Khyber Centre for the Arts (Halifax, NS). She is a past Editorial Intern at C Magazine, for whom she has gone on to regularly write for, including a recent feature interview with Lucca Fraser on the Xenofeminist Manifesto for the Winter 2017 FORCE issue of C dedicated to contemporary feminisms. Esmé has also written for GUTS: Canadian Feminist Magazine, CRIT, PUBLIC, and Franz Kaka Gallery, and is a Collective Member at M,I,C,E. Magazine. She has done two residencies at the Caldera Arts Center (Sisters, OR) and her writing practice frequently involves collaborations with artists and thinkers from diverse disciplines, with resulting projects with Hannah Levin McGraw, Luke Mohan, Matthew Green, and Sophie Kujiper Dickson.

CIRCA 1995