Zach Kaiser

kaiserza@msu.edu
(517) 884-5946

27A Kresge Art Center East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyArt, Art History, and DesignExperience Architecture

Associate Professor
Graphic Design

Biography

Zach Kaiser is an artist, teacher, theorist, music producer, and DJ. He is currently Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Experience Architecture at Michigan State University. 

In his work, which critically engages with his background as a designer working in the tech industry, he takes up the mantle of the artist-as-experimenter—questioning “the limits of preconstituted fields… along with the accepted criteria of judgment by which they would be held to account” (Gary Hall). He does so in order to critique Graphic Design’s participation in the distribution of the sensible (Jacques Rancière)—the delimiting of sensory experience that determines how we participate as political subjects. 

Graphic Design and User Experience Design guide us as we experience the world, allowing us to perceive some things while concealing others, and, therefore, shaping our modes of participation. In his creative work, Zach seeks to render the invisible visible, illuminating the politics of design in technology, as well as the ideas about the future embedded within our technologies themselves. He seek to contextualize, critique, and, maybe optimistically, modify the way that Design distributes the sensible, the way it shapes our understanding of ourselves as political subjects through our technologies, and how this circumscribes the way we imagine the future. To do so, he carves an intellectual space that utilizes a constellation of theories and methods from the fine arts, Science and Technology Studies (STS), Cultural Studies, Media Studies, and Philosophy.

In 2006, Zach graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Studio Art, and, in 2013, he earned his MFA from the Dynamic Media Institute at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His graduate thesis advocated for a methodology of learning based on the process of DJing as a way to illuminate relationships in order to surface hidden ideologies and power structures in students’ lives, which are increasingly mediated by complex computational systems.

Prior to joining the faculty at Michigan State, he co-founded Skeptic, a Boston-based research and design collective, and served as a visiting lecturer in various design programs in Boston. 

Zach regularly exhibits and lectures in the US and internationally.

University News

Applying a Critical Eye to User-Experience Design Research and Teaching
Published October 21, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
A picture of a man with a beard wearing a white shirt before a green background.
That exercise or workout tracking app you just installed might help you define and reach your fitness goals, but the app, and others like it, may also affect the way we interact, reshaping our…Read now »
Podcast: Design and the Parameters of Possibility
Published August 10, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
man with beard who is standing outside in front of green trees and looking forward
The latest episode of the Liberal Arts Endeavor Podcast, titled Design and the Parameters of Possibility, is out. Our host, Dean Christopher P. Long, spoke with Zachary Kaiser,…Read now »
Professor Reflects on Industry Experience to Shape XA Curriculum
Published July 10, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
a man with facial hair wearing a hat and a blue checkered button down shirt
As one of the first faculty members hired at Michigan State University for its Experience Architecture (XA) program, Assistant Professor Zachary Kaiser uses his experience in the industry…Read now »
MFA Prize-Winning Exhibit Explores the Meaning of Value
Published May 1, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
picture of a metal-looking building, MSU's broad art museum
Jazzmyn Barbosa is this year’s winner of the Master of Fine Arts Prize, which was presented during the closing reception for the Department of Art, Art History, and Design’s 2018…Read now »
New Graphic Design Major Popular with Students
Published January 26, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
The MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) has rolled out a new Graphic Design undergraduate major this Spring 2016. To date, 42 students have enrolled in the new BFA program…Read now »
Killer Robots and the Humanities: Building an Interdisciplinary UX Program
Published September 28, 2015 in College of Arts & Letters
5 people sitting around a table discussing the paper on the table
The Experience Architecture (XA) program at Michigan State University is a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary major in the Humanities focused on user experience. Through the exploration and…Read now »