Brooklyn-based artist and app developer Lauren McCarthy, who blends art experiments with entrepreneurial startups, virtually presented some of her work in technological systems and social influence on Thursday, Sept. 6 at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
Speaking to an audience comprised of digital culture students, McCarthy, who fuses technology and traditional art skills to create her projects, touched on her journey as an artist.
She used computer science skills to create projects intended to analyze social interaction and look into technology systems as they help humans relate to each other.
McCarthy holds two Bachelor’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one in computer science and one in art and design, and a Master’s degree in fine arts from the University of California, Los Angeles.
McCarthy was inspired to make her art to express her own fears concerning social interaction.
“I went to this tech school where everyone was sort of a nerd and I fit in great and I finished, and then I realized that I was maybe not so good at social interaction,” McCarthy said. “I thought I’m not so good at talking to people, but I am good at making things, maybe I could hack my way out of this situation.”
In collaboration with another artist, Kyle McDonald, McCarthy created PPL KPR, an app that keeps track of relationships, monitoring a user’s physical and emotional responses to social interaction through a wristband.
The app then analyzes users’ responses to different people. If responses are positive, the app will send alerts to schedule times to meet with them, but if the responses are negative, the app could block contacts.
“I was sort of caught between a genuine curiosity about this route of approach and a deep fear of where it might lead,” she said.
The app’s website refers to PPL KPR as an art project. McCarthy herself described the app as being “between utopia and dystopia” and said she wants to let the user decide what to make of it. Read more