Jane Tingley

Jane Tingley
Professor, Faculty of Arts
> Stratford Digital Media Campus

In an Internet-of-Things world, we are surrounded by devices that instantly connect us globally to almost anywhere.

In artist Jane Tingley’s “distributed sculpture” titled anyWare, three identical objects can be located in three different cities, and the objects simultaneously respond to people who interact with them. So for example, if someone at a gallery in Montreal begins to interact with a sculpture by turning off lights on a touch panel, a person in Toronto would see that interaction live on their identical sculpture. The person in Toronto could then join in and interact telematically with the person in Montréal. Together they collaborate in turning the lights off and on as they play with the sculptures.

That’s just one example of how Tingley, a professor of fine arts in Waterloo’s Faculty of Arts and Stratford Campus, explores the human-machine interactions in our technological world.

Designers adjusting biomedical dress on a mannequin

Biomechanical cocktail dress

She also created DareDroid, a biomechanical cocktail making dress that uses medical technology, customized hardware and human temperament to make a cocktail. Worn by a human host, the human and the robotic dress work together to interact with the audience to make cocktails in exchange for a game of “Truth or Dare.”

In yet another work, viewers conversations are recorded and incorporated into the memory of an art installation. As the installation is exhibited in various cities in the world, it gathers audio “memories” of past visitors, and those memories together form an evolving sound composition for future visitors to the installation.

How human-machine interaction affects our social environment

From the interactive Wii games, to Roomba the robotic vacuum cleaner and a friendly customer service robot called Pepper, the Internet-of-Things is meandering into every part of our lives. Tingley’s art provides people with insights into how our interaction with technology affects our lives and our social environment. It helps people think about those interactions in a deeper and more societal way.

“I am interested in the social, cultural and political meaning of these interactions,” Tingley says. “I am interested in creating works that get people to become a bit more critical about their own relationship to technology, and yet at the same time, I am also interested in creating playful interactions for the body and the mind in order to get people to rethink what an interface is,” she adds.

That process will also teach us something about ourselves. “It helps people think about technology as something other than just an artifact that we consume,” Tingley says.