This is an Eyeo Lecture by Theo Watson and Nick Hardeman. I will specifically be focusing on and speaking about Watson, who is a British artist and programmer focusing on creating work that comes alive invites people to play. He received a BFA in Design and Technology at Parsons School of Design.
Watson, Hardeman, and Emily Gobeille have a small studio based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts and are very focused on the new ways of storytelling through creating interactive installations and visualizations.
Along with Gobeille, Watson has founded Design I/O which is a studio that specializes in “the design and development of cutting edge, immersive, interactive installations.” I really like what Watson said about interaction testing and that it “often involves getting on your knees and trying to make your body the size of a five year-old’s body, trying to see how that feels both from an interaction perspective but also a scale perspective.” It is crucial to see how viewers are going to experience your work, especially if they are coming into it from a new perspective, both literally and figuratively seeing this project, Connected Worlds, targeted a younger audience.
My favorite work of Watson’s and his teammates’ is called Funky Forest, which allows children to make trees using their bodies as well as direct water to their roots to keep them alive. Throughout the installation, they will hopefully discover that their actions have consequences and that creatures will either “appear or disappear depending on the health of the forest.”
Overall, I really appreciated how focused Watson was on the feedback and experience of the children who helped play test and eventually fully experience the Connected Worlds project. I found his positive attitude really refreshing. When children were asked to give feedback on some of the creatures, I found it compelling that they were the most descriptive about those they did not like or understand, as well as the fact that Watson and his teammates used that to their advantage by making more characters like that in order to intrigue the kids and make them question what they were seeing.