Judges Spotlight November 7, 2022

Halsey Burgund – Co-Director of In Event of Moon Disaster

Artist and creative technologist Halsey Burgund uses location-based sounds and voices to create immersive experiences that push audiences to think critically about the world around them. He's also the founder and developer of the open-source AR audio platform Roundware.

Halsey has been celebrated for his work in integrating sounds from the real world into the digital, also making him one of our newest judges to join our judging body of over 2,000 industry experts. We spoke with him recently and dove deep into his multidisciplinary pieces, his view on responsible tech, and his take on how tech can create a positive impact:


For those who don’t know, tell us a little about your background.

I am an artist and creative technologist. I am fascinated by technology; how it can be used creatively and aesthetically and how it can influence society in deep and often unexpected or unintended ways. Though I use many different types of media in my work, I focus on sound. Much of my work is creating experiences that overlay the real world with a continuous layer of location-aware audio that you can add your own recordings to. I am also the founder and creator of Roundware, the open-source contributory audio-AR platform with which I build my work.

What particular expertise are you bringing to the Academy?

Much of my work involves soliciting spoken audio recordings from the public which I combine into immersive, collective works. This co-creative process of creating an environment for contributions, and figuring out ways to dynamically and respectfully combine these contributions into something more universal than my own perspective alone is an “expertise” that is quite useful in relation to the interactive nature of the web. But mainly, I enjoy crossing discipline boundaries and problem solving with a “non-native” perspective.

What emerging trend or technology are you most excited about in your industry?

I think that artists have a unique ability to experiment with and interrogate new technologies and tools in a very different way than their creators are able to. So for me, I am excited about a disparate group of new technologies – from natural language generation to synthetic media to IoT – which can provide endless opportunities for experimentation.

Do you think technology as a whole should have a “responsibility” to be responsible?

It is, of course, people being responsible in their development and use of technology, not the technology itself being responsible! Technology is just a tool, but it certainly can encourage or discourage certain behavior and societal shifts. I think everyone who is influential in our world has a responsibility to be “responsible”, whether that is via technology or not.

What do you believe is the most pressing issue that technology can help solve right now?

This is not at all clever or unique, but…climate change! Will machine learning algorithms help us learn how to better fine-tune wind turbine software to extract the maximum amount of energy from the wind? Will an AI with an optimization function designed to stabilize and reduce global temperatures provide novel insights that we can implement or get inspiration from? None of these are my field, but it feels to me like technology, in “responsible” hands, can play a critical role in helping humanity traverse our climate challenges.

What does it take for technology to create real-world impact for social good?

I think technology needs to be self-aware. But not in the AI sense! All technologies have pro-social and anti-social use cases and it is critical in the development of new influential technologies that those steering their direction be as aware and transparent as possible of the ways the tech can be used positively as well as negatively. Ignoring the undesirable use cases doesn’t make them go away! Also, partner with artists and others outside the tech world to figure this stuff out together.

One of the benefits of entering the Webby Awards is getting to have your work seen by industry experts like Halsey. To give your work the exposure it deserves, make sure to enter the 27th Annual Webby Awards! 
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