Sand Beasts & Drones
Subalekha Udayasankar lists “leg maker” on her LinkedIn profile.
But she doesn't make prosthetics. These are legs of fantastical wind-powered creatures conceived by the Dutch Artist, Theo Jansen. Jansen’s truck-sized Beasts of the Sand (“Strandbeest”) are created from PVC pipe, a fluid mind and serious math.
Inspired by a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that over 95% of armed drone attacks in Pakistan incurred collateral damage among civilians, Subalekha created a game about flawed surveillance, impossible decisions, and the people caught in-between. Called Bycatch, her game uses a smartphone as an armed drone. A specially designed deck of physical playing cards represents a kaleidoscope of people, including some genuine bad guys.
I caught up with Subalekha after the O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference to talk about emotional design and AI.
Subalekha is fascinated by how art and gameplay surfaces the emotions that shape the subtleties of rules, cultural norms and decision-making by people. An accomplished mobile UX designer and adjunct lecturer at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art, Subalekha has lived in Amsterdam and currently resides in New York City.
We spoke about how emotional design principles (sometimes called empathic design) often resonates independent of any given technology or medium. However, emotional design principles will become crucial as we mix technologies and mediums to create more immersive user experiences.