“Touch Our Future” Homepage
Silicon Valley-based artist Drue Kataoka has made a name for herself melding technological innovation with breath-takingly beautiful aesthetics. She’s presented at TED, was a Cultural Leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos for the billionaires, world leaders, and CEOs who run the world, and is an accomplished flutist. Now, her new project, a global art installation entitled “Touch Our Future” aims to aid in fighting the scourge of infant mortality.
“I took inspiration from the cave paintings at Lascaux and Sulawesi.” Kataoka explains over the phone from Los Angeles. The almost 40,000-year-old hand impressions left on ancient cave walls, signs of our forebearers’ emerging intelligence and creativity, led her to trace the handprints of mothers and infants today, especially in areas where the infant mortality rate was high. She wanted to give infants a voice, and that evolved into a global project.
A true product of Silicon Valley, Kataoka accomplishes these handprint scans with a mobile app: anyone with a mobile device can take a picture of their hand, which is then silhouetted perfectly in an instant with an image of a sun taken from somewhere in the world. Once submitted, your hand joins the likes of Heidi Klum, Chelsea Clinton, and the Dalai Lama in a fluid spiral towards the horizon on the project’s homepage. Thousands of handprints already populate the site.
“I wanted to leverage art to build a bridge to people and build a lasting message to them that would be the first step in engaging people around the issue,” she says.
“Touch our Future” is one piece of a large oeuvre that seeks to break down barriers between disciplines and illustrate how art and technology can converge beautifully and with great meaning. Kataoka is inspired by a lineage of creators that includes not just other artists, but also scientific minds, for instance, Richard Feynman, the celebrated physicist who became entranced with artistic creation and began drawing, and is perhaps best remembered for his beautiful representations of particle interactions and decays, commonly called Feynman Diagrams.
“His work was only something he could create because of his deep knowledge,” says Kataoka. “I think if we are very welcoming of each other across the different cultural gaps and disciplines, there are many positive things that can arise.”
Moving forward, Kataoka hopes to emulate Pablo Picasso, who politicized his work in the aim of promoting peace (Guernica, anyone?). His meetings with President Truman and President de Gaulle echo the diplomacy Kataoka activates to propagate her work, but she is aware that the divide between politics and art has become larger. “You would be very hard-pressed to see an artist meeting with Barack Obama,” she says. “I think that’s sad.”
This summer her piece “Twelve Minutes of Thinking” (a piano with a brain wave musical score) will be displayed in Carl Schurz park, in New York, as part of the city-wide installation “Sing for Hope Pianos”. Again weaving the nexus between arts, public policy and tech, Kataoka proceeds in a mission to inject creativity into society.