My PhD focuses on developing a decolonial agenda for design studies and the relevance of history to design. This agenda revolves around tracing the genealogies of, and studying, alternative philosophical systems, especially insofar as they dealt with technology, creativity, materiality, and other concepts important to designers as a means to derive new forms and practices in design. Specifically, I’m studying the Late Vedic philosophy of Anandavardhana and his commentator, Abhinavgupta, and the Dhavni school of thought in India, and putting their work in conversation with late 20th century philosophers like Peter Sloterdijk and Gilles Deleuze to reflect on what designers could learn from their poetics and speculate on what new forms of design practice indigenous to India could be.
Object Oriented Ontological Explorations in Design Praxis
I wrote my masters dissertation asking the question: what could a non-human centered design be like? To answer this question, I first identified critiques of anthropocentrism in modern design by scholars like Tony Fry and Peter Paul Verbeek. I then turned towards the work of Martin Heidegger and Graham Harman to look at what object oriented ontology (OOO), a philosophical movement concerned with thinking about nonhumans, would have to offer to design practice. I concluded by showing that not only does OOO offer novel ways of thinking of the phenomenology of things and of technological systems, but also reveals that there is a kind of ‘material grammar’ present in designerly making, bound up closely with the craft of design practice.
Applied Research at CMU
Learning to See, Seeing to Learn: A Sociotechnical System Supporting Taxonomic Identification Activities in Volunteer-Based Water Quality Biomonitoring
Gigapixel Cyberinfrastructure for Participatory Science Learning
I am currently doing design research with Marti Louw in the Human Computer Interaction Institute at CMU in designing and developing a digital informal learning environment to support and improve observational practices and classification skills among citizen scientists and expert entomologists. To make the task of identifying freshwater insects easier and more engaging, my team is developing a platform, the Macroinvertebrate Identification Training Environment, that will use zoomable, annotatable high-resolution images and interactive media to educate citizen scientists and help them in bug identification, while also increasing the reliability and quality of the data they are generating for purposes of scientific research and conservation efforts. My work so far has involved conducting usability studies with citizen scientists, interviews and observational studies with both trainers and experts, coding and analyzing the data from qualitative research, and translating the data into design insights and designing low level prototypes for the platform.
I have also co-written two papers on a previous research project I did developing another learning platform and the site installation where it would be deployed for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History using Gigapixel technology with professor Louw as part of UPCLOSE and the CREATELab at CMU between 2012-2013.
Partners in Learning: Building Rapport with a Virtual Peer Tutor
I spent the summer of 2016 doing research on another project involving learning technologies with Professor Amy Ogan of the Human Computer Interaction Institute on designing and developing high fidelity interactive protoypes for a math tutoring software aimed at teaching math concepts to multilingual students whose native language was not English. I designed and coded both the prototypes and wrote the protocols and experiment design for their deployment and subsequent testing and data gathering in several schools across the Philippines.
Ansari, A., (2017), Glasshouse: The Western Artificial as Sphereological World Formation, Design History Society Annual Conference 2017, Oslo, Norway, Sept 7-9 || Link
Ansari, A., (2017), Bataillean Excess & Sloterdijkian Immunology in Interactive Systems, International Applied Human Factors & Ergonomics Conference 2017, Los Angeles, CA, July 17-21 (Publication Pending)
Ansari, A., (2016), Redesigning Design Education in Pakistan: Integrating Systems Thinking and Material Culture into Local Design Pedagogy, Cityscapes, IVSAA, Karachi || Link
Ansari, A., Kandala, R., (2016), Interview: Jian Guan on Design & Innovation in China, ACM XRDS, June 2016 Issue || Link
Ansari, A., Kandala, R., (2016), ACM XRDS, June 2016 Issue || Link
Ansari, A., (2016), Politics & Method, Modes of Criticism, Vol 2 || Link
Ansari, A., (2014), Operation Sovereign Borders (Australian Government Customs and Border Protection Service), http://designandviolence.moma.org/operation-sovereign-borders-australian-government-customs-and-border-protection-service, 2014
Loew, M., Ansari, A., Bartley, C., Nourbahksh, I., (2013), Stories in the Rock: A Design Case for Explorable Image Viewers in Museums, International Journal of Designs for Learning, Vol 4, Issue 2 || Link
Louw, M., Ansari, A., Bartley, C., Nourbahksh, I., (2013), Exploring Gigapixel Image Environments for Science Communication and Learning in Museums, Proceedings of Museums & The Web, Portland, OR, April 17-21 || Link
Talks & Workshops
Transcript of the speech delivered in defense of the motion “Design must fill current human needs before imagining new futures”, MIT Media Lab Summit, 16th July 2015 || Link
Full day workshop, Design Research Methods, for the Pakistan Innovation Foundation Accelerator Weekend, Karachi || July 2015
Mentor, Teams Edequal and AKUH, for the Pakistan Innovation Foundation IlmApps Challenge, DotZero, Karachi || September 2014
Mentor, IlmApps Hackathon, for the Pakistan Innovation Foundation IlmApps Challenge, DotZero, Karachi || June 2014
Full day workshop, Design Research Methods, for the Pakistan Innovation Foundation IlmApps Challenge, KITE, Karachi || March 2014
Mentor, Design Day, for the Pakistan Innovation Foundation NIGC competition, KASBL, Karachi || April 2014
Speaker in #DisruptEd ‘14 conference panel, ‘New Methods, New Modalities, But Same Old Results?’, Islamabad || April 2014
Full day workshop, Design Research Methods, for the Pakistan Innovation Foundation NIGC competition , KITE, Karachi || March 2014
Half day workshop, The HCD Process, for the Pakistan Innovation Foundation NIGC competition , KITE, Karachi || February 2014
Lecture, Approaches & Methodologies to Research in Design Practice, Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture, Karachi || February 2014
Half day workshop, Business Applications of Data Visualization, Marriot Hotel, Karachi || October 2013
Ansari, A., (2013), The Flat Earth: Object Oriented Ontological Explorations in Design Praxis || Link
Ansari, A., (2016), Towards a Design of, from & with the Global South || Link
Ansari, A., (2013), The Postcolonial Bildungsroman as First Philosophical Text: The Problem of Authenticity Explored in The Buddha of Suburbia || Link