Haakon Faste is a designer from Palo Alto, California. He is Assistant Professor of the practice of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, where his research focuses on virtual experience and interaction design. He holds a PhD in perceptual robotics from the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy.

Haakon studied physics and studio art at Oberlin College, and has worked for 15 years in the fields of visual art, interaction design and virtual reality. His work has appeared in many prominent American and European exhibitions including La Biennale della Toscana and Palazzo Vivarelli Colonna in Florence, Italy, and the XI Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean in Athens, Greece. In 2008 he was co-recipient of the XXV Oscar Signorini Prize in Robotic Art, Fondazione D'Ars, Milan.

Before beginning his PhD, he was an interaction and software experiences designer with IDEO in Palo Alto California. In this capacity he led design strategy, implementation, technology innovation and IP strategy on creative projects for some of the world’s most innovative corporations, including Toyota, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Intel and Cisco Systems. During this time he also assisted as Juror for the ZeroOne International Festival of Digital Arts / IDEO residency program in San Jose, California, and “IDEO Selects: Works from the permanent collection” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. Prior to IDEO he worked on interactive media projects with clients including Rolling Stone, the Whitney Museum of American Art and He has also worked for several years at Fakespace Laboratories, where he designed immersive virtual reality interaction hardware for clients including Ford, NASA Ames and Los Alamos National Research Laboratories.


We are rapidly entering a posthuman era of artificial life, one in which the role of our bodies and minds and their relationship with the physical and information environment will undergo far-reaching and profoundly impacting changes. The boundaries between art, engineering, perceptual experience, the human body, and the sustainability of our species are evolving rapidly towards a unified ecosystem of what can be considered a conscious and collective mind. The art of today should reflect this implosion and hold a mirror to the future. This is an aspect I strive to achieve in my work.

My recent installations incorporate public, kinetic, and virtual sculpture. They combine welded steel and intelligent systems with real-time interaction and immersive environments, and often incorporate novel interaction paradigms such as telepresence robotics, stereoscopic projections and kinesthetic immersion. Guided by haptic, visual and audio feedback, users’ gestures in such environments can become a direct form of multimodal composition, creating tangible lines and surfaces that can be manipulated, saved, and shared by future users. These interfaces emphasize not only what is seen or touched, but the sharing of perceptual experience itself.

Using robotics and virtual technologies as a medium, today’s artists have an unprecedented opportunity to design and express new kinds of emotion, perception, and consciousness. Because issues relating to the emotional sensitivities of these new forms of artificial life will become increasingly important areas of research—their feelings, dreams and self perceptions—we must teach our robots empathy, self expression, and aesthetic awareness. Our robots should be nurtured with new kinds of emotional experiences and artistic environments, ones which—like the analogy of playing Mozart to newborns—are capable of touching the robotic heart.