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Stefani Byrd's practice includes video, new media, and interactive technologies. Byrd is most noted for her temporary public art installations that create "empathy training" experiences for the audience.
These works are a hybrid of video and performance art that both disorient and re-orient the viewer. The work is both playful and sophisticated, drawing the viewer into active and often interactive engagement. Her practice aims to shed light on the complicated nature of communication within a contemporary culture where social stereotypes often define our interactions.
Her current project "(i want to be private)", made in collaboration with David Shere, is an interactive experience that integrates video and physical computing elements to create a real-time dynamic interaction between a human and a “digital surrogate”, or a digital representation of a person. As the viewer approaches the surrogate, they begin to illicit negative responses such as annoyance, anger, and eventually a fight or flight response if the surrogate’s final proximity boundary, representing intimate space, is violated. The piece is designed to exploit our credulity, and blur the lines for the viewer as to whether the digital surrogate is a feeling entity possessing it’s own state of mind. It is a synthetic experience crafted to put the viewer in an awkward and psychologically charged situation.
She has received grants and support from groups such as: Creative Capital of New York, Flux Projects, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and Idea Capital. Her work has been featured in such places as Public Art Review Magazine, the Huffington Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, the Hunter Museum of American Art and Art Papers Magazine.
Byrd's work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the Columbus Museum of American Art, and the Diane Marek Collection and Trust.
Stefani Byrd received her BFA in Photography from Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, in 2008. She is currently a second year MFA candidate at the University of California San Diego with an emphasis in New Media and Art + Technology.