Reality Studies
Urgent Futures with Jesse Damiani
Idris Brewster: Why AR Matters

Idris Brewster: Why AR Matters

🎙️ In the latest episode of the URGENT FUTURES, Jesse sits down with Idris Brewster to discuss the reality- and history-crafting properties of augmented reality.

Welcome to the Urgent Futures podcast, the show that finds signal in the noise. Each week, I sit down with leading thinkers whose research, concepts, and questions clarify the chaos, from culture to the cosmos.

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My guest today is Idris Brewster.

Idris Brewster is a Brooklyn-born artist and creative technologist who disrupts traditional narratives through spatial experiences. Idris’s work explores the liminal space between the historical archive, public space, and technology. Idris is the Executive Director of Kinfolk Foundation, an augmented reality archive that puts the power of monument making and historical preservation into the hands of Black and Brown communities. Idris has received several awards and recognitions for his work, including Forbes 30 under 30, Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, New Museum, Eyebeam, and the Museum of Modern Art.

The Apple Vision Pro has everyone talking about spatial computing again, but as I’ve said in the past and continue to believe after a decade in the industry: XR adoption is a question of culture. Cultural norms will ultimately determine if and how spatial computing becomes a reality.

I’m not even saying we should necessarily be advocating for spatial computing to be adopted at mass scale—my opinions on that continue to evolve. But what I know for certain is that the only way I believe we’ll see positive outcomes is by using the tools for different ends than data harvesting and advertising; using the tools in unexpected ways, in ways that are unique to them.

To that end, Idris is doing urgent work through Kinfolk. One of AR’s unique affordances is its ability to activate specific real-world sites. In Kinfolk’s case, those activations are about revealing erased histories, deepening context to space. And those new understandings don’t leave you when you put the phone down. This is something that came up in an earlier episode of Urgent Futures with Asad J. Malik, and it’s something I’ve learned firsthand through working with Nancy Baker Cahill on AR public art projects like Battlegrounds (2019).

One of my goals for this show is to square my background as somebody covering and working in technology with my sense that we are in a critical time for developing new systems that will sustain life on earth. Modes of information, communication, and creative expression are part of that picture, and Idris’s work and thinking demonstrates why.

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CREDITS: This podcast is edited and produced by Adam Labrie and me, Jesse Damiani. Adam Labrie also directed, shot, and edited the video version of the podcast, which is available on YouTube. The podcast is presented by Reality Studies. If you appreciate the work I’m doing, please subscribe and share it with someone you think would enjoy it.

Find more episodes of Urgent Futures at: Past conversations include Taylor Lorenz, Asad J. Malik, Lia Halloran & Kip Thorne, Cherie Hu, Eric Czuleger, and more.

Reality Studies
Urgent Futures with Jesse Damiani
Welcome to the Urgent Futures Podcast, the show that brings you TOMORROW'S IDEAS TODAY. Each episode, I sit down with leading thinkers for big idea dialogues that clarify the chaos, from culture to the cosmos. Stick around to hear the research, concepts, and questions that animate their approaches to reality.