Today we walked with four lovely students! When we got to the studio this morning we were surprised to see people waiting to go on a walk with us because we hadn’t seen any names on the signup sheet before we left yesterday. So nice to have these wonderful enthusiastic people joining us. Rebecca, a student who knows the campus trails very well, offered to lead the group through the boardwalk bayou to the Foxtrot trail and back. The sky was cloudless, the air crisp and cool – a perfect day for an outing. We walked for 3 hours discovering more and more life within a seemingly dormant bayou. As happens every time we go on a walk, the eyes adjust to the details gradually. Initially we engaged in conversation about life, school, their experience with the campus, nature, etc. But as the enchantment of nature took hold, we started pointing out details like minnows, scales on scaly pines, spider webs, decaying trees, grasses.

We made a rule that we (Alex and Maria) would not collect anything on this walk. It would be the responsibility of the guest walkers. This would prove to be hard for us but ultimately the right choice as it was fascinating to see what they picked up, being locals. We did have some influence, particularly on how much of each thing was taken (they were more timid at first). In the end we had two bagfuls of bark, branches, grasses, mushrooms, needles, and more.

When we got back to the studio, we arranged our collection on one of the tables. Unfortunately Alex and I had to jet downtown for a talk but we left the very capable guest walkers with the task of coming up with rules for how we would set up the scan the next day. We still haven’t seen these rules but very much looking forward to the process of interpretation tomorrow morning when we quickly drop in to the studio before going downtown for the colloquium roundtables.




On being a woman

So here we are, international women’s day. I have to say, this year is the first year it has penetrated my psyche in any deep way. Before, it was a day that would usually include a note from my mom, some interesting facebook posts, but certainly not a call for a strike or a string of appreciative texts from my friends.

I didn’t strike. I went to work. I went to work because I love what I do, who I do it with, and where I do it. I am unbelievably fortunate. I dedicate whatever merit this day accumulates to all women who have made my situation possible, wholeheartedly.

We need feminine energy to balance what is happening in the world. As Valarie Kaur says in this rousing speech, this may not be the darkness of hell but the darkness of the womb. Think about the power of that statement for a moment. This could be the time of women rising to say “NO, not like this. Like this.” I feel it in myself and in the women around me.

I give thanks to the powerful women in my life that have shaped me in ways they probably didn’t realize at the time or maybe ever. I think of the lineage of women behind me and I am in awe at the small chance that I am here, the hardships borne and the courage shown by each one.

to you

Maman.         kindness
Carole.           alone
Jacqueline.   motor bike
Lisa.               horse rides
Ann.               instruction
Margaret.      wisdom
Sara.              style
Sandra.         witness
Leanne.         truth
Kirsten.         sanity
prOphecy.     joy
Sharla.           loyalty
Catherine.    precision
Leila.             celebration
Thecla.          dance
Julie.             change



Women in Virtual Reality

Quite a bit has been said already about women in virtual reality. I was just at the Weird Reality conference in Pittsburgh last month (fabulous!) and the conference organizers made an effort to be inclusive in gender and ethnic background. Major props to Golan Levin. It was so refreshing. I felt like I could relax a bit and enjoy the show without a nagging discomfort about who was not there. Several women at the conference took their moment on stage to point out not only the lack of gender diversity in VR, but also the prevailing aggressively male environments of the VR industry. I know what they are talking about because I have experienced it. It seems to come from the unfortunate combination of lack of diversity and a fiercely competitive environment fuelled by a tech bubble which threatens to implode at any moment. Still there are some shining lights and I will list some of the women that I have run across lately. Hopefully it can be a starting point the next time you are looking for a woman on your panel or an artwork for your exhibition.

First, a NYMag article highlighting the work of women in VR:

Also Kaleidoscope recently teamed up with Oculus to launch DevLab, “a new initiative to support independent VR creators and explore the boundaries of virtual reality as an art form.” Their initial lineup features quite a few women (yay!). Here they are:


Lab'Surd From Judith Guez

Lab’Surd From Judith Guez


At the Stereoscopy and Illusion conference I recently attended in Paris I met a fellow calico cat, Judith Guez, doing fabulous work with illusion in VR. The work I saw was called Lab’Surd, an installation using the HTC Vive as the VR device. The setup is beautifully designed and creates a seamless transition between the physical and virtual. The VR experience is about six minutes long during which the environment becomes more and more surrealistic. It is beautiful, dreamy, engaging. One of the best VR experiences I have seen in a long time. I will write a more extensive description of this work in a forthcoming post.


The quirky work of Laura Chen also deserves a shout out. She has created some wonderful VR sketches that are thoughtful,  fun, and freeing experiences. I tried her VR communal pooping experience and was immediately charmed. Don’t poo-poo it until you try it, preferably with a friend or three. It’s Chapter One of a series that she is developing. She is currently working on a chewing experience and has rigged a google cardboard with a brilliant DIY chewing sensor. Other works of note are a series of masks or headsets for experiencing reality.

Claire Hentschker is doing some very interesting work using photogrammetry with filmic sources (including The Shining!). She reconstructs the film sets using only the film frames and then lets you navigate though them. She also did a very charming collaboration with a nine-year-old, bringing to life his drawings and characters.

The group EleVR is an absolute marvel and they have been experimenting with 360 video and webvr for quite a while, making them one of the most innovative (and fun!) group I’ve seen. M Eifler showed me some of the work she has been doing with Hololens and even though I had tried Hololens a few times before, when she showed me what she had just created as we were sitting at the bar, I was completely sold on the future of AR, even with a (currently) narrow field of view. Andrea Hawksley is a brilliant inventor, genius at WebVR and camera rigs. Vi Hart…well she is just a spark of creation in this universe. Her 4D visualizations with monkeys blow me away. Anyway, just check out their work. Invite them to wherever you are. You won’t regret it.

Ok I’ll end it here for now but will keep adding to the list, posting more brilliant women in VR as I think of them or meet them.