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CripTech Incubator: Thoughtworks Arts Partners with Leonardo/ISAST

Posted by the Thoughtworks Arts Team
Sunday, 12 September 2021

Thoughtworks Arts has joined with Leonardo/ISAST to participate in the CripTech Incubator, a new art-and-technology program that fosters disability innovation.

CripTech Incubator is sponsored by the Innovations + Intersections $500K Grant Award from the California Arts Council.

Leonardo/ISAST presents CripTech Incubator

Thoughtworks Arts is pleased to be one of a total of seven partners included in CripTech. The CripTech Incubator supports artists in residency across a variety of incubator sites, including Thoughtworks San Francisco, Beall Center for Art and Technology, Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology, Berkeley Disability Lab Nokia Bell Labs, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, and Arizona State University - at their Herald Examiner Building. Projects were funded at the largest award amounts in the California Arts Council’s history, made possible by a one-time 2018 state funding increase.

Participating artists will present works-in-progress at the eight California sites of the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) international speaker program that joins artists, scientists and technologists in conversation and community. Online curricula addressing new media art and access will be developed in coordination with Arizona State University, featuring CripTech artists, scholars and advocates. Project outcomes and reflections will be published on Leonardo/ISAST’s platforms including a special issue of Leonardo journal and Ground Works, a collaboration platform developed by the Alliance for Research Universities in the Arts, centering access as a systemic feature.

The CripTech Incubator creates a platform for disabled artists to engage and remake creative technologies through the lens of accessibility. Employing a broad understanding of technologies, including prosthetic tools, neural networks, software, and the built environment, this incubator is structured to reimagine antiquated notions of how a body/mind can move, look, and communicate. Foundationally CripTech aims to amplify ways in which the disabled community hacks and remakes technologies for their own ends, and as modes of creative resistance - understanding that access is about design justice.

Christopher Edwards, a Thoughtworks employee working on the CripTech Incubator program, says: “As a deaf person and experience designer, I know how important it is to engage directly with diversity, with difference. Engaging directly fosters empathy, and empathy is how technology can improve lives. What comes from this program is not just great work that expands the horizons of art and technology, but also that it fosters empathy through collaboration, through direct engagement with difference and empathy.”

Each of the residency sites will vary in structure, location and time. The Thoughtworks residency will run throughout the Spring of 2022.

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