Isla Hansen is an artist making systems and objects for play, performance, sculpture, interactive installation, animation, and video. Her work reenacts forms of popular media, play, and systems of production, recreating ways in which bodies connect to technologies in the world around us. Her work sets in motion new and sometimes crude means of image-making in order to break down or convolute processes of technological mediation. Isla often combines soft materials, digital fabrication techniques, real time media, and techniques from online DIY culture to draw a connection between cultures of making, play, and personal technologies. From 2011-18 Isla focused on the way in which camera and robotic systems in the gaming, medicine, food, and sports industries have developed by tracking and positioning the human body as analogue. More recently, Isla is making physical objects for play, exploring the relationship between toy and tool. Evoking the association of image to desire, idolatry, ideology, and learning, Isla's absurd systems reinterpret and complicate the relationship between the human body and technological progress.
Isla is currently directing on a long term collaborative research project called the Play Mountain Exchange through a fellowship at the Center for the Arts in Society. Through researching cultures of play as revealed through the history and contemporary life of playgrounds, play spaces, libraries, toys, toy stores, and children-centric or play-centric institutions, the Play Mountain Exchange explores the differences and similarities in play across cultural borderlines. Through a range of experimental social artworks surrounding the making of play and play objects, the Play Mountain Exchange translates and creates action across the borders that divide geographically and ideologically separated cultural communities and creates a literal exchange or trading space for play. Read more about the project here. Follow Objects of Play research lab for the project @objectsofplay
Isla lives and works in Pittsburgh, where she is an Assistant Professor at the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. She has previously worked as an Assistant Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts and at The Ohio State University in the Department of Art and at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design. Isla's solo and collaborative installations, systems, and performances have been exhibited at the Akron Art Museum, Columbus Museum of Art, MOCA Cleveland, Industry City Gallery, the Parrish Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, Miller Gallery, Guild Hall Center for Visual and Performing Arts, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Isla has been a Rauschenberg Foundation Artist in Residence and the recipient of the Daedalus Foundation fellowship, the American Austrian Foundation Seebacher Prize, and Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier Grants from the Studio for Creative Inquiry. She received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her BA from Columbia University.