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.
In this episode, we’re chatting with Anna Henson, an artist and researcher who’s focused on spacial computing and immersive experiences.
Anna’s work focuses on studying and surfacing the human side of technology – specifically how embodiment and social interaction design within new and emerging spatial computing technologies and immersive experiences is changing our relationship with each other, with technology and with the companies that are behind these new tools.
[ 7:02 ] – Well there was another stage in between theatre and XR where I worked in experiential advertising for a brief moment. […] Brands would want to promote something and they say we want an interactive experience where people, members of the public, or whoever was encountering this could actually interact and play around with some kind of scenario that would help communicate whatever they wanted to communicate. So that is when I started to get into creative technology and that was in New York, so I started to learn about the ways you could use code to make interactive experiences.
[ 8:58 ] – My first instinct is to always look for collaborators. I’m an extremely collaborative person, I always work well with performers or in teams. I love working with really great engineers and figuring out how we’re going to best leverage the technology to tell the story that we want to.
[ 11:25 ] – So I blended those two techniques to see: ‘how can we represent people, using these different kinds of motion capture? How can I put real, recognizable people in a virtual environment? What’s the extension of photography? Essentially. […] So that was some of the earliest experiences that I worked on to move into AR & VR but then my work has transformed a little bit now into more questions of embodiment and sensory design and also into questions of the ethics of this immersive technology and kind of community-based dialog about ‘what is the user experience of people wearing headsets? How does this work or not work in society.
[ 13:00 ] – I think collaboration requires a lot of – of course – communication and translation from different people who may not come from the same backgrounds, who may have different ideas about how to go about a project. But essentially the nature of collaboration is ‘how can we communicate with a group of different people to make one thing that’s bigger than what we could all create by ourselves?’. So I am a huge proponent of collaborative work, and especially interdisciplinary collaborative work, where you are working with people who you may not always think of as immediately being relevant to the project you’re working on.
[ 14:13 ] – Expand the dialogue essentially. Don’t leave the creation of technology to just traditional roles where people are developing technology – in kind of behind closed doors. I think we need to open the conversation a lot more in society in general.
[ 17:17 ] – The question of bias in algorithms is huge […] ask the really hard questions. And that means that tech can’t just sort of sit by and just say ‘oh it’s just an algorithm, it’s not bias. It’s just a computer, it doesn’t have an agenda’. That’s false. It absolutely has an agenda. And that agenda is coded by the people who are making decisions, who decide what products to make and how to build them. […] Collaboration extends into hard dialog. Encountering people who are different from you and asking hard questions and coming to some kind of compromise or understanding.