Artist, creative technologist, and scholar Heidi Boisvert asks “what do our bodies know, and what can we know if we assume another body—even a doll’s body?” Reflecting on her creative works, including her recent collaboration with David Byrne on Theater of the Mind (in which patrons assume the perspective of a Byrne-like doll using 4D virtual reality experience with smells and haptics), Boisvert considers the combined power of bodies and interactive technologies: to heal, to foster understanding, and to spark social change.
Heidi Boisvert (PhD) is an interdisciplinary artist, experience designer, creative technologist, and academic researcher who interrogates the neurobiological and socio-cultural effects of media and technology. Simply put, she studies the role of the body, the senses, and emotion in human perception and social change. Boisvert is currently mapping the world’s first media genome, while taking great care with its far reaching ethical implications. She founded futurePerfect lab, a creative agency and think tank that works with social justice organizations to design playful emerging media campaigns to transform the public imagination. She also cofounded XTH, a company creating novel modes of expression through biotechnology and the human body. Boisvert is an assistant professor of AI & the arts at the University of Florida. She is also a senior research fellow at the Norman Lear Center, a research affiliate in the Open Documentary Lab at MIT and a member of NEW INC’s Creative Science track.

Freyja Hartzell teaches the history of modern design, architecture, and art at Bard Graduate Center. Her first book, Richard Riemerschmid’s Extraordinary Living Things, appears with MIT Press this fall. She is currently working on a new book, Doll Parts: Designing Likeness, and a related exhibition on dolls and human likeness. Her primary research interests center around the roles that designed objects play in the dynamics of subject-object relations.

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