Author:
MOLLY PETRILLA
Date:
OCTOBER 29, 2014

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For the last month, Thiago Hersan has been making, doing and tinkering at DM+D on an Unknown Territory Fellowship from The Hacktory. His fellowship concludes this week, and he’ll be sharing his work this Thursday night (Oct. 30) at 6 p.m. If you like robotics, cell phones, sculpture, selfies, hacking, or just generally cool stuff, don’t miss this talk!

Thiago used to design circuits for semiconductor manufacturing companies. Now he uses his tech skills and creativity as a design-engineer at BeatBots in San Francisco—where he prototypes interactive robotic toys—and as a member of the art and design collective Astrovandalistas, based in Mexico City.

With his Hacktory fellowship, Thiago continued to develop his robotic body-language sculpture, memememe. He also started several projects that use non-traditional technological interfaces for interactions in public spaces. He spoke with us recently about his robotic sculpture, sewing pillows, and his biggest maker influences.

5 QUESTIONS FOR THIAGO HERSAN

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1. WHAT’S ONE OF THE FIRST THNGS YOU CAN REMEMBER MAKING ON YOUR OWN?

I remember learning how to use a sewing machine in high school home economics class and making a pillow. I had just moved to Pittsburgh from Brazil, so I picked my electives using the little amount of English I knew and ended up in home ec. I was pretty surprised that they had such a class because we don’t have this kind of stuff in Brazil—no wood shop, either—but learning how to sew with a machine was awesome!

2. WHICH MAKERS HAVE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?

In the last couple years, some of the people that have had the biggest influence on me were Marek Michalowski and Greg Katz, my co-workers at BeatBots; Leslie, Rodrigo and Andrés, the other artists from the Astrovandalistas collective; and U-Ram Choe, a kinetic sculpture artist from Korea.

3. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

The main project that I am working on right now is called memememe. It is a robotic sculpture that uses cell phones to question the way we rely on digital technologies for communicating and interacting with each other. The idea is to give cell phones their own body language and to teach them to recognize each other visually and aurally.

4. HOW HAS DM+D HELPED YOUR WORK?

Besides the tools and the space, it provided a very dynamic and engaged community to interact with. It’s been a great place to meet people with diverse backgrounds and experiences and to trade ideas and knowledge.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS?

Working with other people! It’s the best and hardest part of any project, but also the most important and rewarding. I love collaborating and working on other people’s projects, and also creating workshops and activities that allow strangers to participate in the creative process of my projects.