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Jon Paden - Artist, Researcher

Jon Paden, a San Diego-based Artist Researcher, intricately explores the fusion of self and information technology through captivating sculptural works. His research delves into the evolving landscape of our self-concept, aiming to architecturally amplify the relationship between our electronic and biological selves through Traditional media mixed with Augmented and Virtual Reality Sculptures.

Distinguished for his prowess as an artist, engineer, and researcher, Jon has made notable collaborations and contributions to a myriad of artists and institutions. His portfolio includes engagements with esteemed names such as The Cincinnati Art Museum, the University of Washington, Pilchuck Glass School, Contemporary Art Center, The Art Academy of Cincinnati, and The Smithsonian Institute: National Museum of the American Indian. Notably, Paden’s collaborative endeavors encompass luminaries like Rick Bartow, Gay Outlaw, Whitfield Lovell, Nancy Blair, and many others, where he has assumed roles ranging from assistant, project manager, and structural engineer to installation coordinator and valued collaborator.

Jon's artworks emerge as intricate tapestries that elicit profound psychological responses. His artistic process often intertwines drawing, woodcarving, and sculpting with innovative approaches in electronic media. The infusion of programming and algorithms imparts a distinctive autonomy to his creations, adding an extra layer of depth to the viewer's experience.


In a milestone collaboration with Artist Rick Bartow in 2012, Jon contributed to the realization of "We Were Always Here," a site-specific permanent installation adorning the Smithsonian Institute: National Museum of Art in Washington DC.

Guided by an unquenchable thirst for artistic expression, inspired by journey Jon has traversed Greece, Scotland, Japan, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Thailand, the United States, and Taiwan to inspire his artistic understandings. A sojourn to Japan was instrumental in shaping his work titled "InMemori," an Augmented Reality encounter that immortalizes the digital imprints of his departed loved ones in the form of a poignant memorial.


A highlight, "Dadum," delves even deeper into these conceptual realms, offering innovative channels to construct and interact with the cherished memories of his late father, who passed away in 2006. Through evocative sculptures interwoven with recollections of his father, Jon delves into the shifting landscape of memory in the era of digital embodiment. The exhibition, a remarkable fusion of digital reconstructions, AI processes, and nostalgia, serves as a testament to Jon's creative ingenuity.

This body of work represents a pioneering leap, employing novel methodologies to construct and reimagine physical forms and memories within virtual dimensions. Anchored in his father’s legacy, Douglas Paden (55-06), "Dadum" champions the convergence of memories and artifacts, forging a profound connection between virtual embodiment and the profound exploration of our social identity within the digital domain. Jon's extensive research at UCSD crystalizes around the evolving contours of selfhood, as the boundaries of our physical selves expand into the realm of digital existence. The exploration is facilitated through the integration of Visual 3D, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality Interfaces, forging new frontiers in the ever-evolving dialogue between humanity and technology.

For the last few years Paden has led the Augmented Reality Network Observatory (ARNO) research team, built upon the Pacific Research Platform (PRP) network, as an effort between tUC San Diego’s Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Qualcomm Institute. ARNO are server-side rendering tools and deployment of Unreal-based game experience to scale the Metaverse AR/VR hardware needs into a distributed global system, enabling a campus-wide XR test bed as part of developing a global Augmented Reality Network Observatory (ARNO) networking visualization system. ARNO represents the third generation of big data visualization, realized through persistent, procedurally rendered simulations produced from live data at global scale.

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