Andrew Raftery: Labor that makes beauty

Andrew Stein Raftery is a printmaker specializing in narrative scenes of contemporary American life. Trained in painting and printmaking at Boston University and Yale, he has focused on burin engraving for the past 17 years, publishing the portfolios Suit Shopping in 2002 and Open House in 2008. Andrew’s current project (working title: The Autobiography of a Garden in Twelve Plates) involves transfer printing from engraving onto pottery.


Zachary Lieberman: Creative Teaching


Zach Lieberman talks about teaching creativity in the information age at his School for Poetic Computation.

“We are not sitting in front of a screen. We are trying to create a space for reimagining what is possible.”

For most of us, synesthesia—the attachment of colors to sounds and other such cross-sensory cognition—is more concept than lived experience. But “nerd artist researcher hacker” Zachary Lieberman could change that.

His work uses technology in a playful way to break down the fragile boundary between the visible and the invisible.

Augmenting the body’s ability to communicate has always been at the core of Lieberman’s work. Working with collaborator Golan Levin, he created installations—"Remark” and “Hidden Worlds”—that presented interpretations of what the voice might look like if we could see our own speech.


Helen Marriage: Art Interventions

Helen Marriage

Helen Marriage is a co-director of Artichoke, a creative company, which she founded with Nicky Webb in 2005. In seven years the company has become renowned for its large-scale city-wide events. Artichoke works with artists to invade public spaces and create extraordinary and ambitious moments that live in the memory forever.Through its ephemeral transformation of familiar landscapes, Artichoke aims to leave an indelible mark on the cities and societies where it works.

Kevin Slavin: Debunking Luck

Kevin Slavin

Pioneering gamer Kevin Slavin takes the PopTech audience on a colorful tour of the history of luck in America, games of chance, gambling and mathematical formulas.

“That’s amazing, the idea that anything that seems to be built out of chance or instinct or luck can yield to a computational assault.”

As an entrepreneur, Slavin has successfully integrated digital media, game development, technology and design.

He is a pioneer in rethinking game design and development around new technologies (like GPS) and new platforms (like Facebook).

Simonetta Carbonaro: Liquid societies

Simonetta Carbonaro

Simonetta Carbonaro, a consumer psychologist, encourages us to think differently about consumption. She reminds us that a consumer-hungry outlook for cheaper and faster is outdated, and that we now know that consuming and producing less, in fact, creates more jobs, more free time, and more happiness.

Reuben Margolin : On Kinetic Art

First inspired by the mysterious and mathematical qualities of a caterpillar’s crawl, artist Reuben Margolin creates large-scale kinetic sculptures that use pulleys and motors to create the complex movements and structures we see in nature. Margolin takes to the PopTech stage to share some of his extraordinary mechanical installations.

Reuben Margolin: On Kinetic Art from PopTech on Vimeo.

As a child, he started playing with stilts and was enamored with math. After going in a few different directions in school, he set out with a typewriter strapped to the back of a motorcycle to write poetry as he traveled across the country. This resulted in the creation of a mobile, which he drove for five months in order to have deep, meaningful conversations with people he met along the way.

Soon after, on a hike, he saw a transparent caterpillar that inspired him to try and replicate it as a machine. Although the finished product didn’t move as elegantly as a caterpillar in nature, it fueled his interest in examining movement in the natural world. Still seeking a way to perfectly capture the wave of a caterpillar’s motion, he demonstrated on the PopTech stage a much sleeker machine made of wood, thin rope and metal that did indeed undulate like caterpillar creeping. He’s now exploring applying this principal to giant circles, wooden frames and other forms.

Margolin ended his presentation by revealing a gorgeous, sparkling sculpture suspended from the Opera House Ceiling, which swung gently above the crowd as though wind was blowing through a giant, gilded glass net.

Margolin noted that there are two ways of looking at things: one is at the sparkle and the dawns and the beauty of the world, and one is at the structure and the meat and the math. His art brings both of these elements together in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and intellectually interesting. 



Erica Williams : The Millennial Era of Politics

American Stories: Erica Williams

Erica Williams is a Washington DC-based activist who works to get under-represented communities to take part in the political process. She asked the PopTech crowd to put aside any pre-conceived notions about her generation (the Millennials, born in 1978-2000). Williams was raised by two pastors and defines her childhood by two things:faith and church.

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Gideon Obarzanek : Chunky Move Creature Part Choreography

A Keen Sense: Gideon

Australian choreographer Gideon Obarzanek of Chunky Move showed a brief sequence of his choreography, which included dances that looked like giant spiders scuttling across the stage, the illusion of rose petals blowing across prone dancers and intertwined bodies bathed in pulsating, monochromatic shards and shafts of light.  

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John Fetterman : The Invested Mayor

American Stories: John Fetterman

John Fetterman is the hulking, tattooed and impassioned mayor of Braddock, PA, a tiny town ten miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Braddock was built around the steel industry: vintage pictures show a thriving downtown area boasting 30 tailors, 5 banks, 51 barbers in their community. Over the last few decades, the town has imploded and now none a single one of those businesses remain.

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Kelly Dobson: Machine Therapy

An eminent roboticist and Ph.D. at MIT's Media Lab, Kelly Dobson is exploring "machine therapy" - a personal, societal and psychoanalytical study of machine design and its effects on peoples' everyday lives. Watch as she exhibits Screambody, Blendie and Omo, three fascinating robots that respond to - and influence - their users in provocative ways. See Pop!Cast video
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