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Jon Paden - Artist, Researcher

Jon Paden is an artist and researcher based in San Diego. He explores the merging of self and technology through his intricate sculptures. His work aims to enhance the connection between our electronic and biological selves using traditional art mixed with Augmented and Virtual Reality Sculptures.

Jon is recognized for his skills as an artist, engineer, and researcher. He has collaborated with various artists and institutions, including 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. Jon has worked with notable figures like Rick Bartow, Gay Outlaw, Whitfield Lovell, Nancy Blair, and others in different roles, such as assistant, project manager, structural engineer, installation coordinator, and valued collaborator.


Jon's artworks evoke deep psychological responses, combining drawing, woodcarving, sculpting, and electronic media with programming and algorithms. His creations have a unique autonomy, enriching the viewer's experience.

In 2012, Jon collaborated with artist Rick Bartow on the permanent installation "We Were Always Here" at the Smithsonian Institute: National Museum of Art in Washington DC.

Driven by a passion for artistic expression, Jon has traveled to various countries, including Greece, Scotland, Japan, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Thailand, the United States, and Taiwan. His journey to Japan influenced his work "InMemori," an Augmented Reality encounter commemorating his departed loved ones.


One of Jon's highlights, "Dadum," explores memories of his late father, integrating sculptures with recollections. The exhibition combines digital reconstructions, AI processes, and nostalgia, showcasing Jon's creative ingenuity.

"Dadum" signifies a pioneering leap, using innovative methods to construct and reimagine physical forms and memories in virtual dimensions. Rooted in his father's legacy, Douglas Paden (55-06), the project emphasizes the convergence of memories and artifacts, connecting virtual embodiment with the exploration of social identity in the digital realm. Jon's research at UCSD focuses on the evolving concept of selfhood, integrating Visual 3D, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality Interfaces to push boundaries in the dialogue between humanity and technology.


For the past few years, Jon has led the Augmented Reality Network Observatory (ARNO) research team, collaborating with tUC San Diego’s Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Qualcomm Institute. ARNO involves server-side rendering tools and deploying Unreal-based game experiences to scale the Metaverse AR/VR hardware needs globally. This effort aims to create 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 a global scale.

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