Jessica Westbrook uses design to negotiate and organize the joys and struggles of information and understanding. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Design, College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University (2016). She also Co-Directs Divergent Design Lab, a research lab focused on divergent thinking in emerging design practices.
Since 1999 Westbrook has worked in collaboration with Adam Trowbridge. Currently they develop projects as Channel TWo [CH2], a Chicago-based creative/research studio launched in 2010. CH2 produces information experiences and critical playware. CH2 is interested in luck, levels, systems, and trespassing through the contexts of landscape, interactivity, data, and augmented reality. Their work reveals paradigms, complexity, contradictions, and cognitive dissonance. CH2 projects have been exhibited/screened in museums, galleries, and culture centers nationally and internationally and have been featured in Motherboard Vice, The Creators Project, Art Papers, The Intercept, and Media-N. CH2 work is included in permanent collections at the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and The Kinsey Institute Art Collection at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Their apps can be found on The App Store and Google Play.
Together Westbrook and Trowbridge have received awards and commissions for their work including the 2017-18 AIGA DEC Research Grant for coding education, a 2017 National Security Agency (NSA) Grant for secure design research, a 2015 National Science Foundation Subaward for creative computation research, the 2014 SPACES R+D Award for AR (augmented reality) creative research, a 2013 Sony Digital Media Academy Award for 3D and VR (virtual reality) equipment, a 2012 Rhizome.org Commission through the New Museum to launch the ARRAY Project and listserv, a 2011 Turbulence Net Art Commission through New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., and a 2009 Terminal Net Art Commission.
Prior to joining DePaul’s School of Design in 2016, Westbrook was a tenured Associate Professor of Contemporary Practices and Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Chicago, IL (2010-2016) where she also served as the Director of Technology Initiatives, a curriculum focused role. Her first academic appointment was at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN (2008-2010) where she was an Assistant Professor of both Graphic Design and Photography and Media Art. Westbrook spent the earliest phase of her professional life as an interactive designer and developer working in web, product, and advertising. She developed her interactive and user-centered design skills during the dotcom years working for Verio/NTT DOCOMO, Inc in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.
Westbrook studied traditional photography and early digital media. In 1998 she received an MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. In graduate school she worked as a photographer for the Department of Radiology at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia creating medical case studies. In 1996 she received a BFA in Photography from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL where she worked as a photographer and darkroom technician for the UCF Office of Instructional Resources and an editor at the Kodak Digital Imaging Processing Lab in the UCF Research Park.