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Ninjaneering: Where Fine Art meets High Tech

#sxsw #ninjaneers


As an exploration of the intersection of art and technology, the panel will present and discuss several large-scale sculptures that strongly leverage various forms of engineering. Consisting of a mix of artists and engineers, the panel will explore the various technologies involved, how they are interconnected, and provide general commentary on the merging of these disciplines.



Heather Shaw CEO & Creative Dir Vita Motus Design Studio

Founded in 2006 by C.E.O. Heather Shaw, Vita Motus is a multi-disciplinary design firm that uses innovative techniques to create products and environments that set trends and forge new paths in the entertainment and design industries. Driven by a balance of artistic passion and industrial design expertise, Vita Motus has extensive experience working in automotive design, interactive experience, environmental spaces, product design and development, set design for TV and live theatre, including traveling tour stages.

Vita Motus has conceived, designed, built and launched countless high tech 3D mapped touring stages for clients like Amon Tobin, Infected Mushroom, and American Idol, while also heavily involved in design/build of stage installations for festivals world wide. We have created unique spaces that encompass musical acts from supporting stages to main stages, for clients like Coachella, Boom Festival, Elkectric Picnic and many more.

Focused on Concept design and future products, Vita Motus has designed, researched, and created vehicles for VW/Audi, from 2004-2009. Developing a product strategy for future of alternative energy vehicles as well as concentrating on the current production line and designing solutions for specific market growth in the industry.

Featured clients include: American Idol, Audi, Volkswagen, The Do Lab, Lexus, o2 Creative Solutions, Amon Tobin / ISAM Tour, Infected Mushroom, Speakercraft, Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Goldenvoice, Beticketing, NinjaTune, Boom Festival, Electric Picnic, NXTM, Stanford University, Gaias Automotive, Sebastian Copeland and more...

To learn more about Heather Shaw and Vita Motus Design Studio projects, please visit

Jen Lewin Artist Jen Lewin Studio

For the last 15 years Jen Lewin has been creating large, immersive, interactive art pieces for the public. From interactive sound and light sculptures that inspire people into play, to woven fiber video curtains that reflect movement, or giant, robotic, ethereal moths that dance based on human touch. Lewin’s ability to utilize technology as a medium is rare and unprecedented. She brings an organic, feminine quality to her electronic work that leaves viewers enchanted and surprised.

As a trained architect, Lewin’s pieces are often the scale of buildings and rooms. She creates experiences and environments that are both part of, and integrated into, a physical space. For example, herwork “The Pool” spanned almost a quarter acre and involved 120 interactive, glowing, outdoor light platforms that when stood upon, interact with each other. Her 2008 piece “The Moths,” was composed of three giant, translucent, silk robotic moths set to movement based on how someone moves under them.

While Lewin’s pieces may seem very technically complex, she has developed a system that uses her own custom simple raw tools to create complex, robust, interactive works with longevity. Her works can be waterproof and weatherproof. They can survive harsh conditions, and do not require enormous technical maintenance. She uses small microcontrollers and custom electronics, that allow her pieces to run for years without upkeep and provide her with infinite ways to capture user feedback, such as how a person is moving through a space or touching an object. With these tools, Lewin is capable of creating an infinite variety of work that allows her to create magical pieces that capture viewers and engage them in a space.

All of Lewin’s work is done in-house, at her studio in Boulder, Colorado.

John Taylor Co-Founder LumiGeek

John 'Parts' Taylor came of age in the Apple orchards near Cupertino, California in the early 1990s.

As early as middle school, John’s exposure to computers was leveraged as an entrepreneur, installing LocalTalk networks and writing Claris FileMaker databases for local businesses.

Pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he interned at seminal technology companies such as WebTV, Sun Microsystems, and General Magic under industry legends such as Andy Hertzfeld, Pierre Omidyar, Andy Rubin, and the late Phil Goldman – John’s childhood technology mentor.

After Goldman’s sudden and early passing in 2003, John left the technology sector and Silicon Valley to pursue a longtime fascination with architecture, industrial design, and fabrication -primarily sparked by his annual participation in Burning Man for several years prior.

While getting reacquainted with more tactile pursuits in life and work, John started applying a lifetime of digital technology to the physical world around him. The result has been over a decade of consulting as a Ninjaneer for the likes of TechShop, Red Bull, Heineken, Gensler, and Autodesk, as well as collaborating on large-scale interactive art projects at festivals around the world.

John currently resides in San Francisco and is eating glass with his new startup, LumiGeek, providing custom LED solutions for the maker movement and interactive artists.

Maurice Conti Dir Strategic Innovation Autodesk

Maurice is an Innovator, Futurist and Creative Visionary. His ideas, projects and creative leadership have been leveraged by Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, boutique manufacturing studios and renowned artists.

Maurice's work has centered around Design and Innovation for the last 15 years. He started his career at frogdesign and is now, after many adventures and changes in direction, Director of Strategic Innovation at Autodesk. There he is defining and leveraging technological, economic and cultural trends, especially in the context of exponential change. He hopes to understand how technology can bring more beauty and creativity into the world.

As a faculty member at Singularity University, Maurice is helping to spread a vision of the future where technology and design will help solve some of the most wicked problems we face as a species.