Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty on Digital Media & Creative Industries

Jaz Choi appointed associate professor in Civic Interaction Desi

30 Oct 2023 15:52 | Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries

On 1 October 2023, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) appointed Jaz Hee-jeong Choi associate professor in Civic Interaction Design at the Faculty of Digital Media & Creative Industry (FDMCI). Choi was previously the director of the Care-full Design Lab in Melbourne and the Urban Informatics Lab in Brisbane and is known for their transdisciplinary research, involving people from different backgrounds and with diverse interests. Dean Frank Kresin: 'Choi's research is playful and experimental on the one hand and very serious about and committed to urgent social themes on the other.'

The benefits of a playful approach

Choi: 'My work often brings me into contact with people who have diverse views and opinions. For example, young refugees, homeless people, chefs, farmers, artists, academics, elderly people and entire organisations from various sectors. I work with all of them to see how we could adapt our thinking, methods, processes and systems to be in a position to create a more just future. However, since we all have different ideas about what a "just future" entails, what we ultimately create can take on different forms too: interactive media and AI, websites, physical artefacts and spaces, services and pedagogical strategies and experiences. It is essential for us to create an environment in which we are able to move away from our fixed ways of being, knowing and doing. This makes a playful approach very useful, as it invites us to experience the world in new ways. So, rather than just listening with our ears or seeing through our eyes, for example, we draw on other senses as well. Playful and multisensory interactions can help us become more receptive and even respond in a more generous way to different situations and experiences of ourselves and others. By doing this, we stay open to new possibilities.'

Creative activities at the core of social change

Choi recently collaborated with the Open Forest Collective, which explores how forests and forest data can be produced and used in a co-creative way. In this context, the collective recently organised a workshop at the Venice Biennale Architettura in collaboration with Lonja Wetlands, Croatia. Another recent example of Choi’s work is the Creative Practices for Transformational Futures research project. Choi: 'In this project, I teamed up with 11 consortium members from throughout Europe to investigate how creative practices (design and art, for example) can contribute to an eco-social and sustainable future. I co-conceived the project and led the Engagement Work Package. Ultimately, this led to the development of workshops, exhibitions, situated actions, digital assets, public seminars and even a mid-summer festival in Seville, Spain. We hope to build on this at AUAS and, in this way, situate creative activities at the core of social change.'

Innovative contribution to research on design and technology

Jorgen Karskens is affiliated with the Civic Interaction Design research group. Jorgen: 'We are very happy to be able to welcome Choi to the research group. Choi’s work is experimental, multisensory, playful and participatory and aims to understand and create just futures. Their research focuses on care-full design, a design approach that combines creative methods, a more-than-human perspective, inclusive co-creation, sustainability, playfulness, ethics and care for health and well-being. With their background as an associate professor at RMIT Melbourne and the director of the Care-full Design Lab, Choi is an experienced researcher with a distinct and complementary view on the topics on which the Civic Interaction Design research group focuses. We look forward to their innovative contributions as we continue to investigate how design and technology can strengthen civil society.' Choi: “There are already many people in the Civic Interaction Design group and beyond who are doing fascinating and important work and have similar interests and ambitions to my own. I am looking forward to working with them. Although I only joined AUAS one week ago, I am already enjoying my work here very much thanks to my great colleagues. I think what connects us professionally is our shared focus on creativity and imagination in our quest to understand the world around us. And also the extent to which we are or are not able to influence those circumstances on the way to a more liveable future.”

Australia swapped for the Netherlands

Choi focuses mainly focuses on their research and may possibly also play a role in postgraduate education. They moved to the Netherlands recently. Choi: 'I had the pleasure of living in Australia for 30 years. I worked and lived as an uninvited guest on the land of the Turrbal and Yuggera people in Meanjin and the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. I am incredibly grateful to them for protecting our ecosystems and for their generous hospitality. I miss many things about Australia but am also looking forward to making new contacts here in the Netherlands.' Dean Frank Kresin is delighted with Choi's arrival at AUAS. Frank: 'Choi is a renowned researcher with an extensive network and an approach that is transdisciplinary par excellence. Their research is playful and experimental on the one hand and very serious about and committed to urgent social themes, using participatory methods to work towards a just and liveable future, on the other. I wish Choi a good start at AUAS and a fruitful collaboration with other researchers, our educators and the many partners of the Civic Interaction Design research group.'