A Circus Robot’s Death-Defying Act 

by TexasDigitalMagazine.com

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Tjaša Ferme: Welcome to Theatre Tech Talks: AI, Science, and Biomedia in Theatre, a podcast produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide.

Hi, Josh.

Josh Corn: Hi, Tjaša.

Tjaša: I’m so excited to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Josh: Yeah, it’s great to see you as well. It’s been a little bit.

Tjaša: I know. It’s so funny, I’ve been going over your videos and over your website, and you just keep making me laugh, and you’re such a good communicator. It’s so easy to grasp what the projects are really about, and I so enjoy that. And I think it’s really important in this medium, in all mediums, to be good communicators.

Josh: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, we love to make people laugh. We think that it’s a pretty good way to break down barriers between people and certain topics and just have a good entry point into having a conversation. So we love to use that and it makes things fun, too.

Tjaša: Josh Corn is the guy to know. A true renaissance man of our time, Josh is a master builder of all things physical and digital. Never losing steam, he collected an architecture degree from UPenn and a master’s in product design from SVA in order to dedicate his life to engineering physical feats of wonder. He’s built robots, done professional stage lighting, and probably has a secret rocket locked under some NDA. With Josh, ideas are never too absurd, projects are never impossible to build, and puns are always appreciated. Josh Corn and his Double Take Labs love to make people question their assumptions. They use absurdity and comedy as a way of breaking down barriers to concepts, as well as making it entertaining. They love when tech can become invisible and serve the story from the background. So cool.

Josh: Thanks.

Tjaša: Can you tell us a little bit more about Double Take Lab?

Josh: Yeah, sure. So we’ve been around for almost six years now, which is amazing, and it was me and a business partner of mine, Eden Liu, who started this company. We both came from a background of product design. We worked together in grad school, at School of Visual Arts in the Products of Design department, that’s where we met, and we found that we had an overlapping love of experience design, creative technology, and just messing with people’s expectations and assumptions. My thesis was all about… I used to actually be a stage magician many years ago, and so it was playing with magic and thinking about what room there is for magic these days when we have literally anything at our fingertips. We can create whole worlds in VR and things like that. So then, how then do we create space for wonder?

So that was my thesis, and Eden was working on how everything in design is almost like an act of misdirection, or almost like a small crime. You are almost creating this mischief and affecting people’s attention through design and sort of looking at things that way. And so we—

Tjaša: Well, it’s funny how humans learn. Sometimes we learn about something by telling us what it is not. In a lot of mythologies around the world, they sort of define God through what God is not. That always cracks me up, but at the same time, it does seem like a good perspective to unveiling mysteries about concepts and things and educating.

Josh: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. That’s really interesting. I was reading a book the other day that I think this is a standard sort of exercise about illustrating the concept of what is a chair. It’s something that you can sit on, but is the floor a chair or is the countertop a chair? And things like that. So yeah, I think it is an interesting way of reframing a concept for people and thinking through how you can get people to think differently or even behave a certain way by giving them an action or some sort of unique input. We love to think about sensors and technology in interesting ways, so yeah, how can we affect people to question their own assumptions or do something within a space?

Tjaša: Yeah, and we met when you were working on René, which was absurd and hilarious, and I found this in your video trailer. René is the most technologically advanced robotic arm from 2002 that doesn’t have any artificial intelligence, it doesn’t have any environmental senses, and it can only lift two pounds. So she decides to go into the circus. Can you tell us, really what prompted you? What’s the impetus of working on René and yeah, a little bit of the journey of the René?

Josh: Yeah, it was a long journey. This whole sort of concept of creating a circus with robots started when we had the opportunity to apply for a residency, and the residency would allow us to use a really large industrial robot arm. And we thought, “Well, how amazing would it be if we could get this thing to perform circus tricks?” And we went and we met with the company that owned the arm, and they said, “We don’t think that’s possible with the amount of time that we have, the amount of money we have, unless you, personally, know how to program an industrial robot arm, we don’t think it’s feasible.” And so we said to ourselves, “Well, we don’t know how to program a robot arm, but we can learn.”

So we used some of our profits from previous projects, and we went out and we went on eBay and we purchased our own industrial robot arm, and we taught ourselves: how do you program it? How do you start to get it to behave the way that we want? And we had to create some tools along the way to allow us to animate it using sort of traditional animation software, and then be able to try and get some emotion out of it and some more complicated movements. And it just developed over time. We were just playing around with all these ideas until eventually, we were pitching this idea around and the New York Hall of Science was interested. And so we said, “Well, let’s do it. Let’s create a full show.”

So we made a twenty-minute show of René auditioning to be part of a circus, and the narrator is sort of the ringmaster, the ringleader, and is asking all these questions, “Well, can you do this? Can you do this?” “No. No. No.” “Well, what can you do, René?” And René eventually performs what it considers a death-defying act, which is, what would be a death-defying act to a robot, maybe dancing around water or something where it could potentially have a virus that could erase all of its memory or things that are dangerous to robots but aren’t necessarily to humans. And so we were playing with all these different ideas of what this could be for a robot to actually perform something exciting and interesting.

Tjaša: So what was this death-defying act?

Josh: Yeah, so if you’ve ever seen the trick of putting your hand on the table with a knife and kind of going between all your fingers really quickly, faster and faster. So we made a version of that where René was clicking buttons faster and faster, and if she accidentally clicked the wrong button, it would erase all of her memory. And that’s exactly what happens in the act. She clicks the wrong button, she shuts down. We have these projections and lights that go off, sounds start blaring and all of this. And then the person who’s actually there as part of the act uses the backup drive to resuscitate René and get her back going again.

And it was really fun. We actually worked with the students who were the explainers at the New York Hall of Science, and so they were the ones that ran the whole show. We had to build it so that they were the ones who were actually acting and setting up René, changing the props and all of that. So it was a lot of fun, and the show was different every time because of it.

Tjaša: So interesting. So a robot that eventually is programmed by you to commit its suicide?

Josh: That’s right.

Tjaša: Or to walk the tightrope and most likely she’ll fall, and so she does.

Josh: Yeah.

Tjaša: That’s crazy. Okay, amazing. And can you talk a little bit about where this came from in terms of, it was almost like a response to the fear that the AI and that the robots will take our jobs?

We looked at the circus as being this pinnacle of human ability… We felt that was a pretty safe industry that robots wouldn’t move into. Ironically, robots are moving into the circus.

Josh: Yeah. So the original sort of concept, the reason why we were sort of provoked to create this, was that at the time, and I still think there’s quite a bit of this, there’s this fear that robots are going to take over. There’s a fear of loss of work around all of this, especially now with artificial intelligence getting as good as it has so quickly in the past couple of years. So for us, for René, we looked at the circus as being this pinnacle of human ability. This is the thing that we always go to to see people doing death-defying acts, actually doing something that they are avoiding death in these moments. And they’re things that we look at as being very inspirational. We wish we could do that. We wish we had that skill. We wish we had that ability, and we thought robots would never be able to do that.

They wouldn’t be inspired the same way that we would from looking at other humans. So we felt that was a pretty safe industry that robots wouldn’t move into. Ironically, robots are moving into the circus and into performing arts and things like that, but we wanted to create something where we could start to have that conversation and show a robot as not being able to do those things, yet still have it be entertaining, still have it be something that we could watch, but we can start to have a dialogue about how there’s still things that we need humans for. I mean, even me, we needed me to program René to be able to do these things, so.

Tjaša: Yeah. I think that what René arose in my mind was the sense of paradox and almost like futility. It was almost like making fun of our assumption of its capabilities. And of course, this conversation in the spectrum of artificial intelligence is just getting bigger now because the robots can do more things, but basically, the human projecting on a robot or artificial intelligence continues.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It was a factor of how much we could afford at the time to purchase this robot that couldn’t actually do so much. But I think to your point, it is a perfect opportunity to show this dichotomy of something that’s designed around precision. So it should be able to do things incredibly precisely and specifically. It should be able to juggle, right? Juggling is just precision, throwing a ball and catching it exactly where it needs to be. And yet, it’s actually pretty difficult to get a robot to be able to juggle. There’s a lot of different sensors and things that are involved, and it also starts to lead into the fact that it’s impressive but not impressive in the same way that it is to see a human do it. We would look at a robot juggle and we say, “Well, of course you can get a robot to juggle,” but doing the same tricks with a human, that’s impressive because we can relate to how difficult that is for us.

Tjaša: Yeah, I’m not able to juggle at all, unfortunately. I’m able to juggle with two, but I’m just—

Josh: That’s juggling.

Tjaša: It’s juggling, just catching two balls and—

Josh: Sure.

Tjaša: … ascending them in a semicircular movement. I was also looking into your Field Day Games that made me laugh. This was born during the pandemic where people couldn’t be in the same space, but there was still a craving for physical interactivity. And so I found this. Compete in simple games with groups over a video call to spill, drop, break, crack, ignite, burn machines in our studio. Everyone wins, except Josh. He has to clean up. That must’ve been fun, Josh. Tell us a little bit more about this particular project and its implications and journey.

Josh: Yeah, yeah. So as you mentioned, it was early pandemic and we were trying to think about what we love to do is make physical things move, sense, breathe, change, react to people’s movements or the environment in some way. And so, the pandemic, though is difficult in a whole host of different areas, for us, it meant that we couldn’t be in the same space and we couldn’t make physical things that could actually interact with people within a space. So we thought about, well, how could we continue to explore in that time and what could we come up with, knowing that everything needs to be virtual or remote or over Zoom? And so we came up with this idea of the Field Day games, which are a perfect thing for a whole group of people to get together, to get on a field, to play these games and compete.

But we can’t do that during this time. We can’t be together. So we created these games that you could play over Zoom, through the browser, and they were all one team versus another. And we started really small with just a couple of our friends, eight or nine of our friends, and we created these robots, these small physical representations of various games. So the games we did were the tug of war, an egg toss, and then a relay race. And so on the screen, you’d be pulling a rope with your friends while looking at a live view of these robots pulling back and forth depending on how you’re pulling on the screen, and you have to try and beat the other team. And so we were trying to think, “Okay. Well, what’s going to make this exciting?” Sure. It’s the idea of something being physically changing based on my inputs, but we wanted to raise the stakes. So in all three of these games, they make a mess. What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to make a mess in our studio, and so—

Tjaša: Which is so satisfying. I was feeling satisfied by just watching the trailer. The crashed egg, the cereal falling, the piece of paper burning. Oh God, it did feel like the stakes were really high.

Josh: Right, right.

Tjaša: I could burn down the studio if you just, I don’t know, had to urgently run to the bathroom or something silly as that.

Josh: That’s right. Yep, yep. I am there with the fire extinguisher, and every time I’m feeling the anxiety mounting as we get closer and closer to the flame and then it’s right, I have to clean up at the end. But we did this, we scaled it up to play with almost nine hundred people in one game.

Tjaša: Wow.

Josh: We’ve done this for team building, we’ve done it for new student orientations at universities. We’ve done it as just ticketed events or part of larger conferences. And yeah, it’s really fun and it’s something we still want to explore, especially now with teams being remote in different places. How can you bring people together around these things that sometimes we’re lacking, these physical objects.

Tjaša: So what you’re really doing is you are trying to connect people?

Josh: Right, yeah.

Tjaša: And you’re using technology to make them feel connected, to make them feel together, and to make them feel that they actually have a physical impact. Their actions on the screen are having physical impact.

Josh: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And we found that, a lot of times over Zoom—I teach, that’s another thing that I do. I teach at a couple of different universities and my students won’t have their cameras on or they won’t engage, or they’ll be communicating with me through the chat on the side. And so it’s a very alienating platform to just be online over these videos sometimes. And so we also were trying to figure out how do we get people to actually collaborate in these mediums? And so before each of these games, we would explain the rules of the games and we would give them a little practice page and they would go to these pages, completely separate from the robots. They wouldn’t even know what the robot would be quite yet. And they would rehearse, and they would practice, and they would strategize, and they’d have to figure out how are we going to all tell each other when to pull this rope together, and how do we do it in such a way where the other team doesn’t know what we’re doing?

And so they’re coming up with ideas, they’re throwing things out, they’re practicing, they’re trying out different concepts, and then we have them come back and then actually compete in this giant room with sometimes hundreds of people. And you have to figure out what’s the strategy? What are we all doing? How are we working together in this medium?

Tjaša: That sounds so much fun. I’m thinking in terms of theatre, the medium of theatre, what is really the intersection of technology and theatre? What can they give to each other, in your words?

Josh: I think we think a lot about immersive stories, how can you get the audience actually involved either by contributing to the theatre itself or creating individualized experiences of theatre? And I think that science, technology are really opening the doors of what we’re able to do, especially now with generative pieces where we can directly have people influence the content, the audio, the visuals, maybe the narrative itself. I think that there’s a lot of opportunity that’s still yet to be explored of how we can involve people and still have a goal. The idea of theatre, of storytelling, is to impart a certain message or have some sort of response from the audience, but maybe it doesn’t need to be a static piece anymore. Maybe it can be something that has some interactivity to it.

Tjaša: I just wonder, and this is not a trick question, I’m just like, there’s three dots in my brain. I’m being like, can we see the Field Day Games as a theatre piece?

Josh: Yeah, I think so. I think that there’s drama involved, absolutely. There is this story. Whenever we perform or actually put on some of these experiences, we give them the whole story of where this came from and what we were trying to accomplish and what we hope they can feel from it. Like you were saying, feel more connected, especially for student orientations and things where just a couple of months ago, they wouldn’t even come on campus, they would just be online and they wouldn’t even know their classmates. How can we get them to come away with it with a certain feeling of being more close to their classmates? And I think that is theatre, especially with that narrative arc that we’re putting forth in the experience.

Tjaša: Yeah, because there’s space, there’s participants/actors/witnesses, there’s an emotional arc, there’s an interactive component. I love interactive theatre, so I’m always looking for that.

Josh: Yeah.

Tjaša: And the story is embedded in the action. So it does seem like all of the components are there.

Josh: Yeah, I think, my background’s in theatre, whether it was performing magic or for many years, I was doing technical theatre, all through college. Actually, before college I was doing that, and I graduated my undergraduate in architecture, but I blended that with theatre. And so for many years, I was actually working as a theatre consultant, so helping architects to design theatres. Looking at rigging systems, dimming systems, how can we create these support structures for people to produce theatre? And so it’s always been, honestly, top of mind, how we can create or support these people’s stories or narratives or what you’re trying to get across. And so I love doing that with my own work as well, and also, working with other storytellers.

Tjaša: Also, you mentioned that you love doing things that are immersive. I saw this project that you did back in 2019, Where There’s Smoke by Lance Weiler, an immersive theatre production that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. I was really moved when I actually read about it. I’m just going to share with our audiences a little blurb about it: “In 1983, our van burst into flames on a family vacation. Eleven months later, our house would burn to the ground. As I explore my past, I find mysterious connection to these blazes and come face-to-face with a closet full of skeletons. Inspired by true events in my life, Where There’s Smoke details the connections between two mysterious fires and my father’s battle with cancer.” Sounds like incredible project. Is it still possible to see it anywhere? Is this touring?

Josh: So unfortunately not, right at this moment, but there are a couple opportunities that are coming up. In a couple of weeks, Lance will be doing a live version of the show in Portland. I’m not sure exactly, the details of it, but I know that’s coming up in November. And then we are looking to have a tour next year in 2024.

Tjaša: Amazing.

Josh: Yeah.

Tjaša: Okay. You’ll give us the details so that we can plug it in, all the links, etc. but—

Josh: Yeah, love to.

Tjaša: Awesome. Amazing. Tell me a little bit about your role on this project.

Josh: Sure. So I actually worked on the sort of third incarnation of this project. So it opened in Tribeca in 2019, 2020 hit and Lance ended up redoing the entire show as a virtual experience that he could do using some online collaborative tools like Miro, which is sort of like a white boarding tool. And then, just last year, we started talking around December about how we could bring it back and how we can change it and bring some of the digital aspects of what he did in the second version back into the first version. So we sort of went right back to the beginning again, we had all the content, but we had to figure out what are we going to do? What are we going to workshop? What structures should we try and use in this new version of the show? So in the original version, Lance had recorded all of these stories with his father as he was battling with cancer, and they had this amazing score to the show that was written, a beautiful score.

And so these were the components that we had, as well as Lance’s father’s artwork. So we kind of went back and we figured, well, why don’t we create a more individualized experience and people can kind of go and actually look through all of his father’s physical things, his photographs, his camera, his clothing, his journals, and things like that while listening to this score and the stories come up. So we created this new version in 2023 at ArtYard, which is an unbelievable facility in Frenchtown, New Jersey. If anyone is interested in amazing art and exhibitions, they’re an unbelievable location, and they have residencies also.

Tjaša: Good to know. Thank you.

Josh: Yeah. And so we created—

Tjaša: All the artists friends, listen up.

Josh: Yeah, yeah. Highly, highly recommended.

Tjaša: ArtYard in Jersey.

Josh: Yeah, wonderful people. And so, we created this version where it became an individual sort of headset experience where people would walk around with a flashlight in a darkened room filled with Lance’s father’s photographs, and through your headphones you would hear music and stories come based on how you actually walked through the room, how you interacted with things on the tables, how much time you spent in certain areas. And it was actually a fully generative experience in the sense that, every time you went through, each person would have a totally different experience.

Tjaša: Wow. Tell us more. How did you build that?

Josh: Yeah, so we used what’s called an RTLS. It’s a real-time location system, and it allows us to track people as they move throughout the room. So we hit a small tracker inside the flashlight, and we created some custom hardware that’s also inside the flashlight that we can live mix eight channels of audio. So as you’re walking around, we can bring in the synthesizer and bring down the saxophone, and we can start to get things to decay and break down as you’re in the experience longer. And we also can affect things in the environment itself. So if you walk up to this giant mosaic that we created of thousands of Lance’s father’s slides, the lights would come up on it and the light on your flashlight would fade down so we could really interact with the room, the space, and sort of change things as the guest would move throughout the space.

Tjaša: Amazing. I’m just kind of imagining whenever the music starts degrading and the people maybe become uncomfortable and start speeding up, or I’m just wondering how this affected a human body, right?

Josh: Yeah. So we experimented quite a bit on this. So we did lots of play tests, lots of experiments with what happens if we serve a story when you walk up to a table. What happens if we serve a story when you leave a table? Which might indicate that you are ready to hear more and that you are done with your current location and you want to do something else? So we played with all these different conditionals and ways of directing attention, and we found that most of the time, it really didn’t matter too much what we gave people because they would just start to make their own connections. They might see something at one table and then remember a story that they heard a couple minutes ago and start to say like, “Wow, how did you connect and make me go to this place?” And we’d say, “We didn’t. You found these connections all yourself in these ways.”

Tjaša: Oh, beautiful.

Josh: Yeah, it was really amazing to work on.

Tjaša: And so these different audio tracks, you said that there was eight of them, so I imagine that there was eight possibilities basically at, I don’t know, each coordinate, you probably broke it down into some kind of a grid?

Josh: Yes. We had these different zones around the room, exactly. And so we would know, are you in a zone? How long have you been within a zone? When you leave, and what direction you’re leaving. And these eight tracks would change. Sometimes they would be playing a story, other times it would be totally instrumental and sort of mixes of this instrumental music. But each time you would hear a story after that, the music would degrade more and more and more. So as you go through the experience, it gets darker and darker until eventually, you can’t interact with anything within the space anymore. Nothing actually responds to you. There are no more stories to hear, and it’s time for you to sort of let go and complete your experience.

Tjaša: Interesting. I guess my question is, what was the shortest, what was the average and what was the longest time of a human journey in this immersive piece?

Josh: Yeah, so it’s great you bring that up because, because we’re tracking everyone, we have all of this data and we can analyze it and see how many stories are they listening to, when, how are they moving around? And yeah, we found, the shortest, a lot of people, I wouldn’t say a lot of people, some people found it just too much. They walked in and it brings up a lot of feelings around grieving and loss. And for some people, when they go through the very first visualization exercise that we have them do in order to introduce them to the space, sometimes it’s just a little bit too much for them. They might have something recent that they’ve experienced. And so, we definitely have some people that have short experiences.

Most people, it’s around thirty-five minutes for the actual time within the space. And we have had people go longer than that, even if they don’t get any more stories, even if they don’t get any more interactions, they have a beautiful, long sort of last track that they can listen to and they can just sit within the space and just let themselves process and think and reflect.

And so we’ve had some people who’ve stayed in there up to an hour, just being.

Tjaša: Wow, yeah. Do you consider yourself an inventor?

Josh: It’s a good question. I don’t know if I’m an inventor. I think that I call myself a creative technologist, and I like that term because I think that I used technology, whether or not it’s something that I’ve developed or I found, in creative ways. So I think it’s more of a cook, a chef. I’m mixing all of these different ingredients, sensors, outputs, things like that in order to find something creative that works in service of a story. Sometimes we’re asked to be engineers and engineer something and really design something new from scratch that has a lot of research and development. But no one on my team is a traditional engineer. We don’t have an engineering degree, we have no… I have a lot of respect for people who are actually engineers, so we don’t call ourselves that, even though, that is sometimes what we’re doing in our work.

Technology doesn’t have to be something that uses electricity. It doesn’t have to be something digital… For me, it’s really about the interaction.

Tjaša: Yeah. What does technology mean to you?

Josh: That’s a good question. I think, for me, technology doesn’t have to be something that uses electricity. It doesn’t have to be something digital. I think that it is creating some sort of, I think for me, it’s really about the interaction and kind of looking at it from a human to mechanism to interface to sensor relationship. And so, when I think of technology, at least for me, I think of that relationship and what can we create in order to augment or add in a physical sense. That’s what we like to do. I’ll give you another example. We’re working currently on a project for a company called Sloomoo Institute, and they are a slime amusement park, is what I like to say.

Tjaša: Is that the one in Soho?

Josh: Yes. Yep. They’re in Soho and they’re expanding very rapidly. They have a location in Atlanta and Chicago that opened a year ago, and they have a new one that’s opening in Houston in a couple of weeks. And we’ve been working with them for years to think through some of their experiences and how we can help them to get more flow, more throughput, and just enhance the experience, in general. And so, one of the areas we’ve been focusing on has been their DIY bar where you can make slime yourself. And it’s so fun. There are so many options of things that you can play with, of ingredients and textures, colors, fragrances, charms, all these things you can mix in. And it’s sometimes overwhelming. There’s so many choices. So how do you get people quickly through this experience so that they can make something that doesn’t feel completely overwhelming?

And so, from a technology perspective, from a designer perspective, our first way of creating a response was to create these vending machines. And so for every color, for every scent, we had these vending machines, you could put your slime in, press a button, there’d be pumps behind the scenes and motors, and they would drop these powders and fragrances and all this into your slime. And it was great, but it was very complicated and difficult to maintain. There are challenges of creating all this automation for these types of companies. And so we’re actually now making a second version that has no electricity, no motors, nothing in it, and we’ve turned them all into gumball machines. So everyone gets these tokens, they can put them in, and it just uses human power to turn and twist the pumps and things that are behind the scenes. And I still consider that technology, even though we’re not necessarily using electricity or anything digital, there’s a lot of engineering and design behind the scenes in order to create this enhanced experience for people.

Tjaša: What’s the role of intelligence in technology?

Josh: Interesting. I don’t know if there necessarily needs to be a lot of additional intelligence. I think that things could be actually relatively stupid. And I think sometimes it’s good if it’s simple and stupid and does one thing correctly, and it’s robust and it’s efficient. I think that that, sometimes, honestly, a lot of times what we do is better than building in a lot of additional smarts into the situation. But there is a fine line. There’s a fine line between, when we say, “I have a smart light bulb.” How smart is that light bulb? It’s not actually that smart. It could change the colors, but that’s not very smart. It’s connected. I think connectivity is amazing, and that’s allowing us to do a lot of this type of work, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s particularly intelligent. Yeah.

Tjaša: I love that. So you’re saying that smart is really simple and that it’s more of connectivity and less intelligence that makes technology?

Josh: Yeah. I think for us, the connectivity is sort of what opens up, Where There’s Smoke was all about these connected, enchanted objects, people walking around with a flashlight and it feels like nothing more and yet, it is heavily connected to the experience. And for Field Day Games, people are connected, but these devices are also connected. And there’s a lot behind the scenes of this sort of backend in order to make it all work. But it’s very simple. It’s very straightforward. You pull something on the browser and it pulls a string in our studio.

Tjaša: Brilliant. Oh my God. Yeah. I don’t know. There’s just something so joyful and satisfying in the work that you do. And what kind of comes up for me is the memories of camping, of actually being in nature. A flashlight, the school textbook, me and my friends at thirteen, we went away for a scouting weekend or a camping weekend, away from our parents. And the world is our oyster, and it’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be full of our own innovation of how to spend time and connect the dots of this vast universe. And I think that your work has similar ingredients.

Josh: We love to call upon older technologies, things that seem to be kind of lost or forgotten. Even these flashlights, when we talked about the form of the flashlights, we wanted it to feel like those big chunky plastic flashlights that we used to have in the eighties with the big handle and the giant batteries in them. One, because it allowed us to hide a lot of stuff inside them. But two, yeah, there’s this feeling of remembering the times outdoors and or an emergency flashlight or having all these connotations to it. Yeah, I think all of that comes into play when we try to think about these interactions. Yeah.

Tjaša: Beautiful. Josh, thank you so much. This was so delightful.

Josh: Thank you.

Tjaša: Tell us, please, where we can find you, where we can follow you, and what’s the next thing that we can see from you?

Josh: Sure. So our website is Doubletake.design. On Instagram, we are Doubletakelabs, @Doubletakelabs. And what’s coming up? Well, right now we are gearing up to do this installation in Houston for the Sloomoo Institute, so that’ll be open in early December if anyone’s interested in checking it out in Houston. And we are also working, as I mentioned, I teach, and so I’m sort of developing this new class actually, with the Digital Storytelling Lab at Columbia University. And so we’ll be doing a creative coding class there in the spring. So it’s pretty exciting.

Tjaša: This podcast is produced as a contribution to HowlRound Theatre Commons. You can find more episodes of this show and other HowlRound shows wherever you find podcasts. If you loved this podcast, I sure hope you did, post a rating and write a review on those platforms. This helps other people find us. If you’re looking for more progressive and disruptive content, visit howlround.com.



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