Jessica Barness is a design theorist whose scholarly work has been published and exhibited internationally. Her research interests are diverse and include interactive environments, sound studies, and critical practices in design. She is an associate professor in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University.
Barness has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Design and Culture, Visual Communication, MATLIT: Materialidades da Literatura, Dialectic, Message, SEGD Research Journal: Communication + Place, and Currents in Electronic Literacy. Her work has been presented and exhibited at venues hosted by organizations such as AIGA, Design History Society, FILE Electronic Language Festival, HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory), ICDHS (International Committee for Design History and Design Studies), SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Design), and UCDA (University and College Designers Association). Her creative works have garnered awards from entities such as Project Passion, College Book Art Association, UCDA, and the STA 100.
She has an MFA in Design with a graduate minor in Writing Studies from the University of Minnesota, and a BA and MA in Studio Art from the University of Northern Iowa. Previously, she taught design courses at the University of Minnesota College of Design, worked in design and research with Conway+Schulte Architects in Minneapolis, MN, and practiced professionally for a number of years as a senior product designer and design development manager in Chicago, IL.
Recently, she co-edited Visible Language journal special issue “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” (with Amy Papaelias), a project that was awarded the 2017 Design Incubation Educators Communication Design Award in the category of Scholarship: Published Research. Additionally, she was co-chair of the AIGA Design Educators Community conference “CONVERGE: Disciplinarities and Digital Scholarship” (June 2017) at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
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Public lecture ”Designing Language and Keeping Track of Space” at the University of Northern Iowa, in association with the inaugural Elena Diane Curris Biennial Design Exhibition, curated by Roy R. Behrens, October 8, 2018.
Three presentations (”conversation“ format) at AIGA Decipher conference, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “Expanding the Discourse: Future Practices in Scholarly Publishing” with Amy Papaelias; ”In What Ways Does Critical Practice (Re)Invigorate Design Research?” with Steven McCarthy and Rebekah Modrak; and ”The colliding discourse of ‘cutting-edge’ design practice and ‘serious’ design research” with G. Mauricio Mejía, September 2018.
The Data Don’t Mean A Thing, a pop-up exhibit of my interactive and sonic work at Each + Every design studio in Kent, Ohio, August 3, 2018.
Interviewed for design criticism podcast Scratching the Surface by Jarrett Fuller (episode 84), July 18, 2018.
Presentation at Collage, Montage, Assemblage: Collected and Composite Forms, 1700-Present conference, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, entitled "Coding and Decoding: Collage as Communication Design Scholarship" co-authored with Steven McCarthy, April 2018.
Essay Dancin’ to a New Tune: The Subversive, Entrepreneurial Flexi Disc, published in Design Observer, April 2018.