Raphael Kim is a postdoctoral researcher and designer engaged in critical explorations of bio-technology in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI): Through making, growing, writing, and speculating, Raphael strives to continue unpacking the social and cultural implications of considering living agents – namely microbes and DNA – as computational materials for interaction.
Following his Master’s in Design Interactions from Royal College of Art in London, Raphael gained his PhD from Queen Mary University of London. His thesis (2020), titled Effects of Microbial Integration on Player Experiences of Hybrid Biological Digital Games, investigated ways in which distinct microbial materiality could be harnessed into design processes towards enhancing playful experiences of human-computer interaction. Outcomes of the research, along with his latest studies on viruses and DNA, have been published at major international academic venues (e.g., ACM CHI), where he plays an integral role in the growth of Biological-HCI and Microbe-HCI; an emerging set of communities with a special penchant (and curiosity) for artefacts with molecular, organic, microbial turns.
Raphael has previously taught at the Royal College of Art in London, serving as a visiting lecturer for MA. Design Interactions and MA. Innovation Design Engineering, delivering modules, workshops, and tutorials with special focus on biotechnology and biodesign. Utilizing his prior professional laboratory experience – which includes working as full-time research assistant for Roche Pharmaceuticals R&D (Switzerland), Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (Japan), and Baum Lab at Imperial College (UK) – Raphael brings an added, first-hand biotechnological grounding and insight towards supporting and leading his design students.
EVOLVING MATERIALITY OF DNA AND IMPLICATIONS FOR INTERACTION DESIGN
With advances in technology, storage of digital artefacts as DNA molecules is likely to become mainstream in the near future. Yet whilst the emerging technology is poised to address the environmental issues surrounding excess global data production, the social and cultural aspects of how we would use the technology remain largely unexplored.
This research project aims to address this gap, using material-focused approaches. It first acknowledges the fact that the mechanics of the emerging technology would shift our current material understandings of DNA: Not only is DNA a naturally occurring molecule that carry genetic information packaged within living cells, DNA can also be synthetic, a carrier of digital information, and embeddable within both the living and non-living artefacts. The qualitative research will unpack the new materiality of DNA in further detail, and identify its potential implications on how we might design and experience DNA artefacts.