Katia Vega // Art && Code: Homemade, 1/16/2021

Katia Vega // Art && Code: Homemade, 1/16/2021

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And welcome back to the Saturday afternoon  session of Art&&Code: Homemade. Our festival   about digital tools and crafty approaches.  This is our afternoon session on our final day.   We have one session after this in the evening.  But for the afternoon session we are going to  

have four presenters Katia Vega, Jorvon  Moss, Tatyana Mustakos, and Daniela Rosner.   We're going to begin with Katia Vega and if you're just tuning in and would like to be a part of the   chats go to art&&code.com/homemade to register and you'll be able to be a part of the discord where   we're having our conversations and chats about the speakers and their work. Katia Vega is a professor   at the department of design at the University  of California, Davis where she directs the   interactive organisms lab. Her laboratory leads  new explorations in novel interfaces in areas  

such as beauty technology, body modification  technologies, and growable interfaces. She's also   the author of Beauty Technology Designing Seamless Interfaces for Wearable Computing: Katia Vega. Hello everyone. I'm super excited to be here and  to be part of this great festival and share also   some of my passion, some of my research projects.  And I will be talking a little bit more of what I   was creating in the last maybe 10 years and also  kind of like behind the scenes of what I was   creating too. So I am super excited to share what I was doing with you guys. So first, while   talking with the organizers, I was thinking on  what will be the most interesting thing to share   and how to go even beyond all the traditional  way to that I present my work. And one of the  

recommendations was to talk a little bit  more about your passion and about yourself.   I thought like 'oh yes of course I can talk  about my favorite topic, myself.' And I decided to   talk about what drives my creation and in  that way you will see different fields   merging together and fields that maybe I wasn't  expected to be exploring from. Before, a little   bit of my background. I studied computer science.  I am from Peru and when I finished my career and   maybe I don't know if that happened to you  at some point or if you are studying and   you didn't know how to move forward. I was in  that situation. I didn't know what to do next.   And unfortunately in Peru there are not many  research labs at least in HCI in computer science.  

And actually that's kind of like a very  privilege I thought from other countries and   I didn't even know that being a researcher was  a career. I was just like do you actually get paid for   create and to be a researcher? That wasn't  something that was very common in   in my environment. But I was very fortunate  to talk with someone. He was a researcher,   a Peruvian researcher, and said like  yes you could apply to scholarships   and study a master's degree, a PhD degree and  become a researcher. And that's what I did.   I went to Brazil. I did my master's degree. It was  more about virtual worlds. And then I moved into  

creating other devices. I started to learn about  wearable devices. And I started my PhD around that   topic. And I was very fortunate to move to Hong  Kong for one year. I was over there in an arts   department that was very different from any of  my colleagues that were going to computer   science labs all over the world. And then I started thinking about how we in computer science is great,   and we usually create maybe just following,  solving a specific problem. And when I was in  

arts, I was thinking like okay what's the problem.  What's the solution. What are you creating. And they   were expressing more their passion. So that kind of-  and I will show you some projects that show that,   current passion and that passion I had also at  that time. And I think art gave me that possibility  

to express this futuristic technology and make  it more available for other people to think about,   not just as a prototype as a paper or something  that you cannot see but you could actually see and   touch and making performances and all that. So I'll show you a little bit about my journey.   I put some pictures of me over here. And you could see that I was very involved in learning about   tattoos and using a tattoo gun. That it was  kind of like an amazing experience, because it  

has a motor and moves and you have that feeling.  But also I was using biosensors biotechnology.   Things that changed its color and that  was something very different for me.   I was going to chemical labs to try to metalize  different components and I felt like I   was a computer scientist. But you usually don't  wear this white coat. And I had that experience   to become a scientist, and use that white coat,  and going to the lab, and make you creating like   kind of like a recipe through through chemistry,  and create all those different kind of objects.   

I would introduce also to electronics and  circuits and I mixed all that together   not just to create all this research and  papers and projects as I mentioned, but also   art exhibitions to showcase what I was feeling. And  in this idea of what I was feeling, I was always   thinking about and I continue thinking about in  this question and what is the meaning of your skin.   And I'm sure if I ask you this question you will  come with different ideas:   a protection layer of your body or the skin is  kind of also censored you could touch a surface   and know if something is too cold, too hot, at the  texture of objects. And you could also think about   If something is too soft. You could  understand your environment just by touching it  and your skin. And that's what I want to  talk to you today it's also a way that we   express ourself. We express ourselves in many  ways. And we modify for our body. We modify our  

skin. Our skin could be a canvas that we could be representing different ways that we wanted to be   seen. And in that way I wanna talk about  cosmetics. And if you think about cosmetics   over the time they didn't change very much.  So I even right now I have a red lipstick,   my mom has a red lipstick, my grandma has a  red lipstick. The functionality   of the cosmetics didn't change that much. So I was thinking on if we already are using these   products for highlighting or hiding some of  my our appearance, how we embed technology.  

So I created all this concept called beauty  technology. This was actually my PhD project   that I was using cosmetics or beauty products  that's embedded circuits into them. So our   skin, these two matters square of a skin that  we have, it could be an interactive platform. I was thinking for a long time or what  could be a good way to introduce to you guys   these concepts and these ideas. And one of  my main motivation on the projects that you  

will be seeing is how to make my prototypes  invisible. How to make an eyelash that it could   become a circuit to look like an eyelash.  And if you see in my video, and you can see   I hold you right now an eyelash. And this  is a conductive eyelash. But if you see   over the camera and maybe if you see that in-person and some other opportunity you could   check that it looks like a normal fake eyelash  the one that you could buy in a drugstore.

So I will show to you some of how I create  these prototypes and how to make them to be seamless    so you could still  be yourself but wearing technology. So you could see over here these prototypes  I call it conductive makeup.  I was again wearing this white coat and going to a chemistry lab and using all these different   materials. So I was able to create  these eyelashes that now are conductive.   I worked a lot with artists for this  first project that you can see over here.   In this first video- oh sorry, oh let me  see. In this first video you could see that  

we apply these eyelashes one on the top of the  eyelid or the other one in the bottom part of the eyelid.   And it works like a switch when she blinks  the different light patterns turned off on and off.   And for me I was very excited and you  could see over here in the right side.   This is me also wearing these eyelashes. I was a  superhero. And just by blinking I was able to turn   on this drone and make it fly. Like in my free  time I'm a superhero. And just by blinking   I could make things levitate and again I  try to make things invisible conducting materials   that could be embedded into  makeup. And you could have  

these micro movements that we have. Like that is  blinking, but now we go interact with our world. Otherwise, I was working in this kind  of project. I was working with Felipe.   Felipe was six-time Brazilian championship in  jiu-jitsu. And unfortunately during a training   now he cannot move his body. So instead of  having superhero for controlling a drone   he wanted to control the tv. And having  that independence inspired in Felipe  

I created this other project I will be  showing to you. And this project,   I call it kínisi that means movement in Greek,  that you will see this. This is an art project   that I receive it in different places and I work  with different video professionals for.   To show this possibility that your skin could  be an interface. And you will see in the video how  

different light patterns turn on just by blinking,  raising an eye brow, smiling, and closing the lips. [music] And, of course, our body is also our hair.  So I was working with hair extensions in   a very similar way to the eyelashes. So  metallizing them with a chemical process,   and the chemicals I was using I was actually  using them to look like my hair kind of brown.   And connecting that fake eyelash that  now is conductive but looks like a hair   to a my a microcontroller has Bluetooth, I could  send that information through a device. And in this  

case you could think of a recording conversation sending a message. Or imagine if you're in a risky   situation you don't take out your phone, you could  send your location to the police for example. Our body is also our nails. And I created this  other project called tech nails that embed   this small shape inside of the finger  nails. And my main motivation also was to   interact with devices with these RFIDs. And if you  think about for example when you want to pay  

the Metro you need all these cards so you  have to attach that or be approximate your card to   that reader to know who you are so you could  go and pay the Metro. So imagine all these   RFIDs we have in our fingertip, so each of  our finger could be one for paying the Metro,   another one for paying Starbucks, or another one for opening the door of your office. And one thing I was interested in is I wanted to- this device you don't need  to touch anything for creating the   interaction. So we create this aqua addition  project. A DJ controller into the water.   So the DJ put her fingernails into the  water to change tracks and add sound effects. And just for sharing also like how I do create.  I use traditional beauty products. Like for   example, you can see over here my fingernails  that I was even going to a salon using gel   nails, fake nails. And then embedded these microchips or  this RFID on that nail you can see. This is my very  

first prototype The very first time I did it, my  nails looks very bulky and big. But then I started   to do like a smaller and smaller going through  this, also passion to have more seamless devices.   Again we share all this concept in the Design  Seamless Interfaces for Wearable Computing Beauty Technology book. One thing I noticed is that right  now, even you could see some startups that they are,   trying to do this idea of the fingernails for  playing the metro in London, in China, and Hong Kong.   Everything I want to share with you, I already shared to you. How we could have   an interactive body. An interactive body through  cosmetics like makeup that you blink and turn the  

lights. Or fingernails that you can pay the Metro with your fingernail. Or just by touching   your hair you send a message to the police so  your body could become an interface in that way.   But then I was interested- in kind of like maybe  going deeper into this the skin and make it kind   of like a more deeper connection. And to read  information that you usually don't have access to.   If you think about the skin as we go back to my  first question, the skin could be also a display. And  

if you think about that when you get nervous  or when something is going on into your body,   you could get red, you could have acne  which also your skin itself is   giving information for you. Maybe taking action  or even some kind of behaviors that could be   psychological or physical behaviors could  be exposed in your skin. So I was thinking   about tattoos and this is a collaboration  project when I was a postdoc at MIT Media Lab.  And we were thinking on a collaboration  with also Harvard medical school. And we're  

thinking about the skin and how we could reveal  information that you usually don't have access to.   Instead of making a blood  test it could be a tattoo.   That we could replace these inks, traditional inks,  with biosensors and they change color and react   and give it information for your body. So you could think about for example glucose levels for people   that have diabetes that goes up and down. So you could see your tattoo could be changing and giving  

you that information when you will need more  insulin. We're doing some prototypes that showcase   that idea of course. And we were using also  different biosensors like pH glucose, sodium.  And, of course, I cannot do a tattoo right now  for you guys. We were working also with tattoo   artists because they know about the skin, they  know about design in our own canvas that   is our skin. So that that connection with  the artist itself gives us that possibility. But   we were showing that as a proof of concept, of a futuristic idea that hopefully right now- actually   there are more biotech labs working, improving  those biosensors using that as tattoos.   Similar than that, I'm thinking about again how we could have a deeper connection through our body.  

We could think about these dental ligatures, this one that goes   around these braces. And we develop them with  hydrogel and also with biosensors. So they are   interacting with your own saliva. So if we think  about this as a simulation, you could think about   a device and when it goes closer to that  ligature you can identify what's the color   of it. And then you can send it as a history  on your phone. We were working with biosensors on   nitric oxide ph uric acid. And this will  give you a lot of information also about your body. And for me all this passion that I'm  talking is a way that we modify the body. And  

you could think about makeup and we could think  about plastic surgeries, clarification tattoos.   And I didn't invent these, these  different body modification techniques.   I use them and invest technology into them so we could have a deeper connection through our body   and understanding more ourselves. But  also communicating more information   is a connection between wearable technology and our body fluids. Like you could think about   tears. The suit when you sweat, your saliva,  your interstitial fluid, and how those fluids   could be connected with material design and also biotech. And just finally I just want to mention  

something that is also interesting for my lab.  And my student last year was working on that.   That is growable interfaces. So you think about assets designers. We have a problem, we create all   these devices, and then we put that in a shelf. Or  maybe we just put that on the landfill. And we are  

not very conscious of our role in creation.  But also if we are creating products that   could be sustainable. So she  created these ideas called growable interfaces.   So by using mycelium that is hydrosystem water  resistant, you could embed electronics into them.   In this case, she was preparing that like as  a small layer very thin layer, so it could   be flexible too. And we could put electronics  around that and we could create these wearables.

And not just wearable devices like  that but other interactive objects.   And then you could imagine like all the objects  that you even have right now in your labs.   What happened with that device. But if you reuse for example the electronics, you go take out   your flora or your arduino  and just compost the material. So this is what I wanted to share with you guys  is this whole idea of thinking about our different   kind of organisms that we could see thinking  about your body and yourself how your fluids   are interacting and also changing all the time in  response of your metabolism. And I want you to  

kind of like move farther from not just thinking about maybe a bottle or a switch, but it's your whole   self that could be interacting and changing its  behavior. And you could see it or you could kind of   express it in a different way. I just want to thank  my lab. I'm very happy that they are students   that come from all over the world but also I'm  very happy to have women in technology that are   interested in these topics. And we have some  applications open from the MFA if you also wanted  

to apply. You could also write to me in an email . And yes this is what I wanted to share with you.   Thank you so much and please if you have any  questions just put that in discord. I will go back   and check them and yeah. So you know Golan if  you also have any questions. Yeah we got a lot. Katia you have a bunch of fans. There's a lot of really great responses  

in discord. And we have maybe three minutes or so.   So I want to kind of hit some questions with you.   One question comes from Kate Hartman who asks your work in beauty technology is   beautiful. Is the use of the term beauty for  you meant more to refer to the cosmetic aspects   in the sort of the cultural slot or rather  to the finesse of the wearing and integration   techniques that are employed? And also she says have you developed any ideas for ugly technology? That's fantastic yeah. So when I was coming  out with the name I actually was thinking more   on the products itself. For me it was like  usually woman itself, they are an inspiration   for me because I was, as I mentioned, I was  in Hong Kong and I was looking how amazing   those techniques could be. Like placing an  eyelash in the Metro is not a simple task.   And like going to a salon like every two weeks, I  spending maybe two or three hours for having these gel nails    it was also kind of like this  motivation and this mixture between like this   fingernails with hello kitty and crystals that  it's kind of like a deeper connection, cultural   deeper connection to the product itself. And  if I think about the beauty product itself,  

yes it has like for that  name, I was thinking about that particular   product name. And about ugly technology I didn't  think about that actually. Like as a series   I didn't know that it's like an ugly technology.  I usually think about the way we modify our body   and it could be beautiful in many ways. So I kind of inspired in many things even the   scarification. And as you can see also tattoos. But  I will definitely that's also a really cool idea.  

I will definitely go deeper into that. But one  more thing maybe I would like to share   about this products. After I was  creating them I noticed that   it's not just for a particular group of people. You  could think about for example, you think about the   tattoos. You could think there is a specific group  of the population that could be using the tattoos.   But after we released a prototype, we  had hundreds of emails mainly for people who have   diabetes. And since this person, they have a kid  of two years old that he cannot communicate too  

much with his parent yet. And would like to have  a tattoo to know what's going on with his kid. Or   this other person that his nerves has been 40  years of his life pinching himself like 10 times   a day. And he thinks that having a tattoo gives  that possibility so I just thought that these   products opens the possibility. Like the  users or the audience that it traditionally has.

2021-05-04 08:54

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