Claire Florence Weizenegger

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Born in Switzerland as the youngest daughter of a stonemason, I spent most of my time in my father’s workshop, where my desire for arts, crafts, and design grew. After finishing the apprenticeship as a Stonemason with honors, I pursued a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Industrial and Product Design. As a Master of Design (MDes) student at the University of Washington, I am passionate about expanding my thinking about the future of technology, society, and how it shapes our sense of being within the frame of our everyday domestic lives. Scholarships from design, philosophy, humanities, and science & technology social studies inform my research. During my two-year master’s program, I have been a Teaching Assistant across several departments at UW.
Thesis

Reimagine Domestic Voice Assistants: Speculating About Future Scenarios

Abstract
Today’s world is more technologically mediated than ever before. The progress in consumer smart technologies is wonderful and world-changing, but it is also racist, sexist, and discriminating. This thesis critically examines the prevailing issue of sexism in domestic Voice Assistants. The design inquiry investigates the anthropomorphism of technology leading to (false) emotional ties, the gendered representation of Voice Assistants as the 24/7 available persona, and the bigger question of how technology shapes human experience. The repercussions of these design choices contribute to reinforcing harmful gender biases and perpetuating inequality. Following the research through design principles, I have used design proposals, sketches, scenarios, and prototypes to reconsider and critically reflect upon current norms of design and interaction with voice agents at home. Through the creation of two artifacts and speculative videos, the outcome proposes a future where voice agents transition from mere assistants to social actors with agency. It challenges current norms and roles assigned to domestic voice agents toward a more equitable an morally conscious technological landscape.
Committee

James Pierce, Chair
Audrey Desjardins, Chair

Polyphonic & Coverse Video
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Welcome Note

For this particular graduate class, the years at the UW have been marked by oh so many unforeseen challenges. So much of the all-encompassing and precious experience that graduate school affords was disrupted by forces brought upon all of us during these particular times. I am especially grateful and proud to have watched this cohort rise to meet these extraordinary challenges with creativity, grace and pro-active determination. The successful completion of their degrees has been fulfilled with passion and the thoughtful consideration of the issues, ideas, and experiences that permeate the world we live in.

A sense of completion, achievement, and reflection is palpable in the works brought together in this Graduate Showcase. More so than ever, this journey has not been a solitary endeavor, but rather is made possible by an essential and supportive community that includes fellow students, family, friends, distinguished visitors, staff, and faculty. I especially want to acknowledge the support and mentorship offered by our faculty and staff who are so committed to creating an educational environment where our graduate students are able to thrive.

I want to recognize and thank Shin Yu Pai, Rock Hushka, Stefan Gonzales, Sadaf Sadri, and Heidi Biggs, for their efforts and insights gleaned during their interviews with the Art and Design grads.

Thanks so much for the collective and enthusiastic support of the entire Henry Art Gallery team, with special thanks to Sylvia Wolf, director, along with exhibition designers and preparators Rachel Ann Kessler and Eric Zimmerman. The opportunity for our graduate students to exhibit their thesis work in such a special space is a fitting capstone to their graduate careers.

I hope you enjoy exploring this online showcase where you will discover how each graduate student transformed their ideas, passions, and skills into a body of research that reflects and addresses the opportunities, challenges, wonder, confusion, and joy of the world we all inhabit.

On behalf of the School of Art + Art History + Design, congratulations to the Graduate Class of 2023!

Jamie Walker
Director, School of Art + Art History + Design
Wyckoff Milliman Endowed Chair in Art