Charity Everett is a Creative Technologist and storyteller who is interested in exploring the connection between humanity and technology. Her project Go Back Fetch It has revolutionized storytelling in augmented reality by pairing traditional storytelling techniques, bleeding edge technology, history, data visualization, and interactivity to create a fully fleshed out and stylized narrative art art edutainment episodic piece. This project has been featured at MIT, Harvard, The Institute of Contemporary Art, and was invited to apply to the Sundance Film Festival in the New Frontier category. She is also in collaboration with the Harvard Semitic Museum through the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning to bring to life ancient Mesopotamian Reliefs using AR. She has given presentations at AR in Action at the MIT Media Lab, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, the New Museum in New York, The Digital Future Consortium at Harvard’s event Art Tech Psyche IV, and at the Afropunk sponsored event Reist(D)ance. She was selected as a 2016 Oculus Launchpad Fellow, an IDEA New Rochelle Resident, and is working with VR|AR|MR to bring immersive media to those in the developing world. She is currently in the process of crowdfunding to bring high end augmented reality art pieces to the market.
What does your current job role entail?
My name is Charity Everett, and I am launching an Augmented Reality storytelling driven identity brand that covers clothing and apparel. This brand is the embodiment of Afrofuturism as more than an aesthetic. Through utilizing image based augmented reality that is rooted first in artistry and storytelling, we can capture the imagination of a generation while engaging and educating them through the power of art and storytelling. My job role entails everything from conceptualizing and visually expressing my vision, filmmaking techniques, data visualization, and interfacing with my development team.
I see that you used to study visual arts, has this helped you in developing for VR?
Absolutely, though I would say it was the passion for visual arts that was more impactful than formalized education in it. Especially because we are talking about a brand new medium, it's essential to keep the passion for why you decided to get into art/ storytelling/ etc. to begin with. After all, there has been this trend that is kind of sad to witness where people who have storied careers in Hollywood attempt to tell a story using VR and it just isn't effective. In this case, I think too much education and expertise in more traditional forms can be a hindrance to true free thought.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges? Has your gender ever stopped you?
The funny thing is, for all my success, I still don't have a college degree. As far as it being an easy industry to get into, I would say that comes down to your vision, your work ethic, and your hustle. I am creating a market where one hasn't existed before. With that comes a lot of challenges. However, I would say the one challenge you don't have to worry about is facing a massive company who has this art down to a science. Right now it's anyone's game, and if you are willing to dig deep within yourself to unleash a story that is just itching to be told in a unique way, the opportunities to tell it will find you.
As far as my gender stopping me, I am sure there are some opportunities I might not realize I have missed out on. Also, I have had a few unpleasant interactions at hackathons that I believe were gender biased. However, by deciding to be an independent creator who has positioned myself in the art world, I can't say that I have met a lot of resistance due to my gender.
What story are you telling?
The story is the episodic origins of the human race told from the beginning and marking the journey with major technological milestones beginning with the most crucial one: the discovery of how to make fire. Through being alongside her on the many ups and downs, successes and failures, trials and tribulations we can learn a lot about what it is to be human and rediscover our inner strength and optimism.
That sounds like quite a story! How are you telling it?
I am drawing from the origins of storytelling in every platform. You follow the protagonist Eve on this heroine’s journey as she makes all of these major discoveries along the way. She is the one who is discovering fire, evolving the hunt, taming agriculture, and rising and ruling over civilizations. Since such a large part of our mission is to empower the next generation to explore the idea of creative expression through technology, it made sense for people to be able to embody this reality through apparel that people can live their lives inside of.
It seems like you are merging quite a few different fields together here! Was that always your goal going into it?
I did realize early on that I was interested in presenting data and information in a clear and concise manner that also followed the arc of a story. When deciding the best way to do this, quite a few fields just converged that all happened to intersect at interests of mine. Identity, education, empowerment, and actually being able to make a social change that could ripple on for future generations and help change the trajectory of new technologies. Accessibility is a big deal for me, and I want this process to seem accessible, fun, and cool!
And how has the response been?
Overwhelmingly positive and supportive. I have had a whirlwind first half of the year that included giving talks at MIT, Harvard, Game Developers Conference, and a talk and show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. I also have had the opportunity to speak and engage with community members about the impacts of seeing
What made you want to tell this story using wearable technology?
In order to reach the demographic I set out to interact with, I realized that fashion that expresses a sense of pride is extremely valuable. Through being able to express not just a sense of pride in your origins, but for it to be used as a vehicle to learn more about your past and connect with where you are going, it is my hope that what begins as just a brand, adds to the growing movement of empowerment, pride, and knowledge- with an added bonus of interest in creative technology. At the end of the day, I want people to walk away knowing more about themselves than they ever considered.
Can you name any women in wearable tech who inspire you?
Kamal Sinclair of Sundance New Frontiers is such an incredible and inspiring pioneer in this field! The work that she has done for AR, VR, and other presentations of creative tech has been such a crucial part of the evolution of this technology.
Amelia Winger-Bearskin is an incredible human being and creative technologist. She is currently running the Artist in Residency I am attending at IDEA New Rochelle and the amount that she is able to accomplish leaves me in awe. She used to run an Artificial Intelligence Lab, and is now working on making VR and AR accessible to the public and competing for $5 million from Bloomberg philanthropies with this program.
Jenn Duong and Julie Young of course have done so many amazing things for Women in XR that I would be remiss in leaving them out.
Kayla Briet is such an inspiration for me as well.
How can people find out more about the project?
They can visit www.gobackfetchit.com to check out the fashions, visualizations and story. Don’t forget to sign up for updates so you can join the journey too. Also follow us on Instagram and Twitter @gobackfetchit. Also check us out on Facebook, and feel free to reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.