Kate Hartman – On The Body

Kate Hartman describes her work as an artist and assistant professor at OCAD University, Toronto, as “body-centric”. She explores how technology and wearable objects like jewelry or clothes can be combined, allowing our bodies to communicate. In her keynote speech at NEXT Berlin, she presented several interesting projects on that theme created by her and her students. For instance, a dancing costume enabling the user to control the music with his or her body movement.

“Bodies matter, ‘cause everybody’s got one. It is our primary access to the world. They are our interfaces.” Therefore Hartman develops tools that utilise our whole body as an interface – transcending traditional ways of interacting with technology.

One could question the functionality of some of the presented projects. “Very often, when I talk about my work or my students’ work, the first question is: What does it do?”, Hartman reports. But, in her opinion, this is not the best approach to their creative work, which should not be limited by first answering the question of utility. “Often, we have to make before we understand what it is. I think really fruitful things can come through that”, she reasons. For Hartman, creativity is the ultimate tool for asking questions and exploration as well as for education and expression.