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13 Aug 2019

Interview: In Conversation with Chloe Gao

Chloe Gao is a Cross-Disciplinary Interaction Designer who focuses on the art of storytelling. We got to talk to her about her experience in interaction design, the most challenging projects, and what immersive art’s place in the age of Instagram.

How did you get started in interaction design?

I first heard about this specific term when I was at NYU ITP for my master’s, but now when I think about it, I feel like I have been doing interaction design since a long time ago. In my early years I did some theater directing. Part of my passion was to design the interaction between the actors and stage, for example, the lighting of the stage would react to what the actor was saying at a certain moment. I did not think too much of if as “Interaction Design”, but more as part of the storytelling, to highlight the moment. After two years at ITP, I have a better understanding of interaction design and start exploring different areas: space and architecture, and of course mixed reality on web and mobile. For me, the core of interaction design never changes, it’s all about storytelling.

 Immersive art is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the age of Instagram. As someone who creates interactive designs, what do you make of this?

I actually hated it a lot in the beginning. I did not consider it as art. Now I have a more subjective opinion about instagram immersive art. As technology becomes an inseparable part of our life today, the way people behave has changed as well. Immersive art itself is a derivative of this interesting social phenomenon. It is the trend regardless of whether you hate it or not, because that is how people live their lives now. Many people criticize the quality of the instagram immersive art, because most of them are just a bunch of different rooms with differently colored walls where audience can take selfies. I also do not fancy those shows but it still has its positive side. Unlike traditional art exhibitions in museums or galleries, interactive art has lower barrier. Audience does not need to know too much background knowledge before they enter. It means to be fun and playful. Today’s immersive art shows delivered this message. They made more people interested in interactive arts. When teamlab started 18 years ago it also did not look so attractive, it takes time to make things right.

 A lot of the images you shared on Instagram feature the use of the Cinemagraph. Can you explain what that is and how you have used it in your work?

I started to make cinemagraph before I went to ITP. After graduating from UC Berkeley, I moved to New York and worked in the fashion industry as a photographer for a year. Traditional photography can capture the moment perfectly well but different people have different interpretation of that still moment. That’s where I started to make cinemagraphs, to tell the stories behind that one still moment. 

You’ve worked on a lot of impressive projects over the past few years. Is there any one in particular that you found to be the most challenging or significant to your career? 

Excerpt from ‘Muse’

The big screen piece called MUSE(https://www.museimmersive.com/). I created this piece when I was in my second year of ITP, together with two other ITPers. It is an immersive storytelling piece we made for a 100-meter-long screen at the IAC building in Chelsea. The reason why it was challenging and significant is that we successfully integrated AR to be part of the interaction and immersive experience. Being able to explore the boundaries of storytelling has always been my biggest passion. 

Is there a particular artist who inspires you, or whose pieces you’re excited about?

Edoardo Tresoldi has been my recent favorite artist. I find out about him when I was doing research for my thesis. I have been fascinated with creating spatial computing art. His installations inspired me a lot. I also like Chemical Brothers. Their audio visualization is just amazing, especially if you go to their live performance.  No other words can describe. I also started to do an experimental audio viz project with my friend. Hope we can show it soon. 


Featured Image: ‘Ephemeral