When it comes to SXSW many look for the films and the music and official panels put on at the festival, but one of the best parts of SXSW can be the activations put on by companies and in this case a university. For the opening weekend of SXSW 2022, the University of Arizona brought Wonder House for attendees. Originally meant to debut in 2020, the event was two years in the making highlighted the wonder of The University from across disciplines and colleges. We got the chance to talk with Misha Harrison, executive director of experience in Marketing and Brand Management, and Chad Herzog, executive director of Arizona Arts Live.
In this interview, Harrison and Herzog talk with us about how Wonder House came to be, how they picked the venue, the talks, and ultimately how Wonder House highlighted what the University of Arizona does best across fields.
The name Wonder House represents the University of Arizona’s brand: WONDER and that’s exactly what was brought to Austin. Over the three days, the Wonder House also became home to several immersive experiences that included “Ripple Effect,” an art installation designed by Dorsey Kaufmann, a multimedia specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, that visualizes water quality data through sound, light, and water; Monsoon VI by Mike Olbinski; the sights and sounds of the Sonoran Desert; and several 360-degree virtual reality short films.
But in addition to these immersive experiences, Wonder House also hosted live music and talks aimed to serve as a bridge between attendants, science, and more. The series featured talks like “Naturally Adaptive Building Tech” from Aletheia Ida, “When Touch Is Out of Reach” presented by Kory Floyd and Mary-Frances O’Connor, “Gourmet Insects” from Goggy Davidowitz and Chef Janos Wilder, “Adventures in Citizen Science” by Katy Prudic and Theresa Crimmins, “The Power of Representation in Preventing LGBTQ+ Youth Suicide” presented by Chelsea Farrar and Russ Toomey, “Tijuana, Tucson and Mars – Borders as Network by David Taylor and Mariel Miranda, and so much more.
To hear more about Wonder House, its impact at this year’s SXSW, and the University of Arizona, hit play on the audio below.