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Jonathan Hanahan

Jonathan Hanahan is a researcher, critical designer, and educator who loves technology and is equally terrified by it.

He uses technology to critique technology. His speculative practice explores the physical, cultural, and social ramifications of digital experiences and the role technology plays in shaping our everyday realities. He makes thick interfaces — tools, devices, software, artifacts, websites, and videos that agitate the digital facade and reveal the complexity underneath our devices’ thin veneer.

Currently, Hanahan’s research prioritizes alternative and ambient interfaces with technology. In 2022, he founded the Sensory and Ambient Interfaces Lab (SAIL). SAIL investigates a future with fewer screens and how non-visual interfaces and interactions lead to a more digitally enhanced yet less digitally imposed future. The lab works in compromised environments where a screen is either unavailable, dangerous or distracting and investigates how information might be relayed through ambient design strategies that compliment human experiences.

Hanahan earned his bachelor of architecture from Virginia Tech and master of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. Hanahan is an associate professor at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches interaction design and creative technologies. He is also the co-founder and faculty director of Fox Fridays, an interdisciplinary workshop series encouraging experimentation with tools, processes, and technology.

Personal website

Edgelands Exhibition

Gallery installation featuring three photographic prints on the walls plus a digital monitor with work.
Installation of Edgelands at Texas State Galleries.

On View October 12-24, 2021
Texas State Galleries: FLEX Space

Texas State Galleries presents a solo exhibition of photographic prints and videos by Jonathan Hanahan. Edgelands investigates the increasing tension between the natural world and the infiltration of electronic waste, the fastest growing waste stream on the planet. The exhibition takes its title from a term coined by writer Marion Shoard describing the liminal space at the periphery of urban environments. Hanahan’s images hypothesize that these spaces, abandoned by industry and reclaimed by nature, as the future home of discarded technology.

Work by Jonathan Hanahan

AI-generated landscape image with brown dirt or grass and a grey sky.

Edgelands: Horizon 086, 2020

AI-generated Image. 32" x 32".
AI-generated landscape of a dirt cliff face with boxy protrusions, capped by scrubby vegetation.

Edgelands: Mound 014, 2020

AI-generated Image. 32" x 32".
Perspective rendering of a city street lined with brick apartment buildings opening out to a collection of futuristic high-rise structures covered with television screens, shrouded in haze.

The 45th City, 2017

Architectural Rendering. 33" x 55".
Three white 3D renderings of city block sections on a black background.

The 45th City, 2017

Video Still. 30sec Looping.
Three rows of black cuboids of different sizes and shapes interlocking, set on top of a white plinth.

Nesting Dolls II, Waves: Physical, 2017

Stacked Acrylic. 14" x 29" x 6".
Nine small, differently colored 3D renderings of walled castle or city keeps.

External Memory Devices, 2015

Video. 3min 12sec.