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Engineering Fictions began as an experiment in 2013, as part of Jessica Foley’s PhD research at the SFI funded Centre for Telecommunications Value-Chain Research (CTVR), Trinity College Dublin. It was invented in response to CTVR’s desire to ‘communicate communications‘. The centre wanted to find new ways of understanding themselves so that they could communicate their research more meaningfully to each other and to wider publics.

Jessica was invited to engage with CTVR by its Director, Prof. Linda Doyle, and to bring her extensive artistic and pedagogical research practice to bear within the research community of CTVR. After spending about a year working as Education and Outreach assistant with many researchers and staff of CTVR, Jessica posed a provocation to the centre: Instead of only developing traditional ‘Outreach’ activities CTVR should also develop ‘Inreach’ practices, drawing on skills and methods from art, design and humanities.

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Since 2017, CTVR has grown into a much larger research centre called CONNECT with a focus on Future Networks and Communications.

Jessica’s PhD research and thesis (Inreach: A Choreographic Process of Transversality [2016]) pioneered creative arts practices within telecommunications engineering research at Trinity College Dublin. Her work paved the way for others and led to the formation of the Orthogonal Methods Group at CONNECT with Prof. Linda Doyle. OMG is a multi-disciplinary group of artists, designers, engineers and researchers engaging critically with communications technologies and society through transdisciplinary and creative methodologies.

Engineering Fictions has since grown to become a robust transdisciplinary methodology that supports researchers across disciplines and industries to make room for creative practice, to ask questions of research cultures and to challenge assumptions, clichés and norms, particularly in relation to science and technology.

In 2017-18, Jessica teamed up with the EDGE programme for Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships to create Stranger Fictions, a sister methodology to Engineering Fictions. For more information visit @strngrfictions http://www.strangerfictions.org (website launching April 2019).

In October 2018, Jessica began an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at Maynooth University, employing Engineering Fictions as a primary research method with the Building City Dashboards team at MUSSI. The focus of her project is explore the role of fiction (both as process and product) in making sense of smart technologies.

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