Tech+Art Podcast: Lauren Cason

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OVERVIEW

Welcome to the new Tech+Art Podcast!

Join us on this adventure as we meet & speak with: artists, makers, researchers, designers and creators from all background and fields.

Our objective is to understand their creative perspective, dive into their workflow & creative process, be inspired by new ideas and their work – and stay one step ahead of cutting-edge industry developments.

"How do we incorporate this emerging technology in a way that enhances things without making you really aware of the fact that you’re putting a screen between yourself and the art?"

IN THIS EPISODE...

In this episode, we’re chatting with Lauren Cason, the XR Creative Director at Meow Wolf.

Lauren is pushing the boundaries of physical, experiential installations with emerging technologies at Meow Wolf, an immersive experience company based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you haven’t heard of the group before be sure to checkout the links in the show notes or visit MeowWolf.com

Lauren is also a talent creator, designer her own really impressive AR filters.

She was previously Apple, part of the team that shipped the widely popular Monument Valley 2 game and a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient.

Question 1: You’re one of the Creative Directors at Meow Wolf, focused on XR. Can you tell us more about what that’s all about?

[ 5:47 ] – […] for XR – it means cross-reality. So it’s sort of an umbrella term for: VR, which would be like headsets; MR which would be hologram headsets like the Magic Leap where you can see holograms in the real world in front of you, instead of just totally on a screen; and then AR, which is things on your phone, so you’d see that with things like Snapchat filters or the IKEA app. And we’re trying to figure out what this sort of emerging technology space is going to look like for the physical art that we do in the Meow Wolf universe.

[ 6:47 ] – And Meow Wolf has this really unique opportunity because we are building physical locations and we have a lot of control over it and so we have the chance to do some really amazing stuff. And I think there’s also some responsibility there, because the reason people go to Meow Wolf a lot of times is to step away from technology, to have an experience in the real world, in a space. So how do we incorporate this emerging technology in a way that enhances things without making you really aware of the fact that you’re putting a screen between yourself and the art? Or without that taking away from the experience?

Question 2: How does your role work with all the other Creative Directors?

[ 10:09 ] – We’re also really interested in Social AR & WebAR, so the things that are happening on Instagram and through Snapchat… And then WebAR in general right now. We have a thing here called “The Accessible Unknown” […] I think there’s a lot of potential with the AR that you can do through Instagram currently and through Snapchat to be on a platform that people understand, people understand how social media works and they might think that they’re just interacting with a normal account and that might lead them down a wormhole…

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Question 3: Throughout your career, how have you approached building these tools, these creative systems that enable you to realize these projects?

[ 12:18 ] – So Meow Wolf, we do some sort of sci-fi theater. Which is what I’ve done at all the different points of my career. They do a certain type of prototyping. So we just did this big demo, an experience that we thought we might want to use in an upcoming exhibition and we couldn’t build the whole thing, but building out a little sliver of it – doing a vertical slice – it involves building actual objects and having people go through it […] including actors, including physical builds, and trying to do the actual things that we talk about doing or get the best facsimile of it so that we can test it out has generally been the approach.

Question 4: How do you navigate the hardware/software side? What are some of the types of creative experiences you guys are trying to push as far as you can with this hardware?

[ 15:54 ] – We built a big mech robot called The Navigator, which you can ride – you can get up and sit on it – and it has a Magic Leap experience that goes with it. So you get up on the robot and then you put the headset on and then out in front of it you see […] all these planets floating around. And you align them by pressing buttons and pulling levers on the robot itself. And we’re really interested in custom controllers like that…