feature / interaction-design
November 04, 2022
By: Mike Winder


Creative Tech Week Returns With a Focus on Design Research, Advanced Digital Creation, Web3

In 2021, ArtCenter held its innaugural Creative Tech Week, an event which convened thought leaders who operate at the intersection of creativity and technology. At the event, speakers and panelists discussed a wide range of topics, including “Neuroaesthetics and the Future of Experience,” “Emoji and the Evolution of Communication” and “Poetry, BOTS, Humans and Language.”

“We define ‘creative technology’ as the invention and hacking of technology for both artistic and practical purposes,” said then-Provost, now President Karen Hofmann during her kickoff of the event, who went on to define the underlying tools and systems of creative technology as including coding, computation, AI and Machine Learning and Extended Reality. 

“This is not a new conversation for us here at ArtCenter—we’ve been at the forefront of creative technology for the last several decades,” added Hofmann, who shared a brief history of some of the College’s pioneering resources, including the Zone System, a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, which was formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer at ArtCenter in the late '30s and early '40s.

At the weeklong event, a cross-section of creative technology experts—Ivy Ross, vice president, design for hardware at Google; Beatie Wolfe, musician and artist; Iddris Sandu, founder Halt Labs; and many more—held lively discussions with ArtCenter faculty and chairs, including Hofmann, Interaction Design Chair Maggie Hendrie, Graphic Design Professor Brad Bartlett, and Interaction Design Professor Elise Co.

Creative Tech Week 2022—which is being held November 7–11, and is open to the general public—will focus on three critical areas for the field: Design Research, Advanced Digital Creation and Web3. 

In addition to learning about pathways for engaging with creative technology, event attendees can expect to gain insights on key trends, challenges and opportunities, and to hear discussions on topics ranging from LACMA’s engagement on the Web3 front, to the role creative technologists can play in promoting inclusivity and diversity. 

Scheduled speakers include Rob Bryant, Jr., a senior 3D artist at NVIDIA; Alejandra Salazar, founder of CROING; and Brian David Johnson, futurist, writer and Arizona State University’s Futurist-in-Residence.

Two robots reach towards one another
A modular toy designed by alum Greg Palkovics (BS 20 Interaction Design), back when he was a student.

“Creative technology is about the intermixing of art, computation, creativity, code and non-human systems,” says Robbie Nock, ArtCenter’s associate vice president, entrepreneurship and professional practice, and one of the lead organizers of the event. “Ultimately, in order for something in this arena to be brought to life effectively, it needs to have both an artistic touch and its end result needs to be human-centered.”

Nock, who also teaches at the College, adds that many organizations today hire artists and designers into creative technologist roles, though the title of that position varies from company to company. He cites two of his former students —Interaction Design alums Greg Palkovics (BS 20), a human interface and machine learning designer at Apple, and Jiacheng Yang (BS 20), a product designer for Apple’s Special Projects Group—as two individuals whose work exemplifies the spirit of creative technology as its currently being discussed at ArtCenter. 

Palkovics’ and Yang’s work is, not surprisingly, not something they can discuss publicly. “That’s just the nature of the work being developed by these large companies,” says Nock with a smile. “But some of my students have gone on to positions that are simply unbelievable."

Creative Tech Week 2022 takes place November 7–11, 2022 and is free and open to the public. Register now.