[ISEA2015] Artist Statement: Kate Hartman & The Social Body Lab – MONARCH

Artist Statement

Electronic components including Arduino Micro, Muscle Sensor V3, servo motors, and custom printed circuit board; 3D printed servo mounts, armature wire, digitally printed cotton poplin, lasercut leather. (2014-2015)

Monarch is a recent lab project intended to function as body augmentation as a means to externalize the user’s emotional state. Monarch was created as part of the Prosthetic Technologies of Being project, conducted in collaboration with Intel Research. The primary aim was to explore and prototype wearable technologies that feel like a visceral extension of self. Wing-like structures positioned on the wearer’s shoulders expand and contract in response to the tensing and relaxing of the wearer’s bicep. It serves as an extension or augmentation of body language emulating the instinctual signals of animals. Hartman emphasizes human-human interaction with her responsive apparatuses, but there is another relational possibility here, one where humans become sensitized to the externalized signals of animals living in the wild. In the final paragraph of Donna Haraway’s When Species Meet the primatologist states “Animals are everywhere full partners in worlding, in becoming with”. Hartman provides the mechanism for insight into animal being, and thus into worlding. By allowing her user to move beyond predictable reactive technologies to perform animal potentialities Hartman has implicated her user into the lively object, and in doing so has created the possibility for empathy between species cohabiting technoculture.

  • The Social Body Lab is a research and prototyping based at OCAD University (Canada) dedicated to exploring body-centric technologies in the social context. The Social Body Lab team that created Monarch includes lab director Kate Hartman and research assistants Jackson McConnell, Hillary Predko, Boris Kourtoukov, Izzie Colpitts-Campbell, Alexis Knipping, and Rickee Charbonneau in collaboration with Jamie Sherman from Intel.
  • Kate Hartman is an artist, technologist, and educator whose work spans the fields of physical computing, wearable electronics, and conceptual art. She is the author of the book “Make: Wearable Electronics,” was a speaker at TED 2011, and her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hartman is based in Toronto, Canada, at OCAD University where she is Associate Professor of Wearable and Mobile Technology in the Digital Futures program and Director of the Social Body Lab, a research and development team dedicated to exploring bodycentric technologies in the social context. katehartman.com

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