Keali-LookingOutwards01

Theo Watson is an artist, designer, and experimenter who received a BFA from Parsons School of Design in Design and Technology, and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. His works are inspired by the curiosity and excitement of his audience, which leads to the production of impressive interactive art installations in which people can immerse themselves. He founded Design I/O, a creative studio specializing in the design and development of such media, continuing to push the boundaries in the possibilities of an art-and-technology intersection. Having personally been interested in and inspired by the dynamic possibilities of art and technology, Theo engaged me as a listener to his lecture and as a fan to his projects. My goals as an artist have long stemmed from my experiences as an child when I was an avid fan of digital media: cartoons, animations, videogames alike. It is especially encouraging for me to see Theo’s execution of immersive environments that transport viewers to seemingly a wholly different and stimulating and reactive world. Being an environmentalist as well as an aspiring illustrator with more design-leaning aesthetics, I am fond of his works ‘Funky Forest’ and ‘Connected Worlds’, both of which integrate amazing, streamlined graphics with a scientific importance of how humans can affect the earth; the process of creating ‘Connected Worlds’ as detailed in the lecture show the amount of thought, love, and experimentation that went into the installation, as well as the series of troubleshooting involved. It was interesting to hear about how every detail implemented was formulated from an either artistic, practical, or ideological reason. For instance, Theo and Nick discussed how they wanted to steer away from mindless interaction by implementing a rewards-like system to the ecosystems, where the children have to grow trees and put effort into planting seeds and nourishing plants to attract rarer creatures, while learning how to effectively manipulate water flow to sustain different biomes; this reflects the necessary care and effort that citizens should put into caring for their habitats around them in order to coexist with other species. Another notable dialogue from the lecture were the multiple times which he admitted, “–and we never thought this would work but…”, indicating how through the problem-solving that came with the creation process were the innovative, almost impulsive solutions. There is something very human, down-to-earth, and realistic about the presentation and his approach to the project: about how such large-scale, time-committing installation would present troubles along the way, and how one can just try things for the sake of trying things, oftentimes leading to unexpected and beneficial results. ‘Connected Worlds’ seamlessly implements art, technology, environmental worldviews, and the arduous but rewarding journey of bringing a dynamic, interactive space to life.

Theo Watson’s website//