You Talkin To Me?

Artist and educator Kate Hartman, recently a speaker at TED 2011 -in a thought-provoking talk where she shows the “Talk To Yourself Hat”, the “Inflatable Heart”, and the “Glacier Embracing Suit”, and other unexpected devices, and whose work is currently included in: Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York which runs until November 7, takes us on a whirlwind tour of her quirky, home-made art that uses wearable electronics to explore how we communicate, with ourselves and with the world.

Kate Hartman, TED Talk February 2011, Long Beach, California.

The MoMA exhibition focuses on objects that involve a direct interaction, such as interfaces, information systems, visualization design, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users. Examples range from a few iconic products of the late 1960s to several projects currently in development -including computer and machine interfaces, websites, video games, devices and tools, furniture and physical products, and extending to installations and whole environments. Her pieces highlight, explore and facilitate human interaction and communication, with unexpected results. Wearable technology and a big step back help humans communicate with each other, but also with plants, buildings and minerals, thereby enhancing and expanding our perception of what -and who-surrounds us.

Underneath the fun and the amusing social experiments lurk questions well worth asking, about our understanding of the world that exists around, and even inside, us. What would objects say if they could talk? Can we translate what they feel and experience into human-readable formats? And what does this data ultimately reveal about our lives and our humanity?


Kate Hartman is an artist, technologist, and educator whose work spans the fields of physical computing, wearable electronics, and conceptual art. She is the co-creator of Botanicalls, a system that lets thirsty plants place phone calls for human help, and the Lilypad XBee, a sewable radio transceiver that allows your clothing to communicate. Her work has been exhibited internationally and featured by the New York Times, BBC, CBC, NPR, in books such as “Fashionable Technology” and “Art Science Now”.  Hartman is based in Toronto at OCAD University where she is the Assistant Professor of Wearable & Mobile Technology, the Director of the Social Body Lab, and the interim Director of the Digital Futures graduate program. She is also the director of ITP Camp, a summer program at ITP/NYU.

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