Innovative Spirit

Nine Innovators to Watch in 2019

These big thinkers are set to make news this year with exciting developments in transportation, energy, health, food science and more

(Catt Small, Dandelion, Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, www.meowwolf.com, Sana Health, Mabel O. Wilson)
smithsonian.com

There’s a lot of hot technology out there, maturing fields in drones, 3D printing, and virtual and augmented reality, as well as futuristic tech like quantum computing and nanotechnology. But it all needs to be incorporated into industries that are solving real problems. Here are nine innovators who are working to bring practical advances to 2019’s most exciting technology.

Vince Kadlubek, co-founder, Meow Wolf

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(www.meowwolf.com)

Originally an artists’ collective with a bent toward performance, Meow Wolf is now best known for a Victorian house they built in a bowling alley. After years creating intermittent art, the 10-member group from Santa Fe settled down—with an assist from New Mexican novelist George R.R. Martin (of “Game of Thrones” fame), who bought the bowling alley—to tell a nebulous, otherworldly story in the form of a built environment. The trippy house opens onto other dimensions, and visitors get to explore it and discover the story for themselves.

“At the heart of it, I’m inspired by the evolution of storytelling, and I’m excited for what Meow Wolf is doing because it really is on the brink of what I believe to be a new form of storytelling, 21st century storytelling,” says Vince Kadlubek, a co-founder of Meow Wolf.

Meow Wolf’s success is spawning new and bigger locations, starting with a 50,000-square-foot space in Las Vegas, opening in December 2019. It’ll be related to the original story, incorporating theater and digital storytelling while acting as social commentary on consumerism, says Kadlubek.

“We’re ushering in a new form of the way people experience story, and in a way that is so deep and so immersive that it actually, potentially, is ushering in a new way for people to experience reality as a whole, not just entertainment,” he says.

Further locations, in Denver and Washington, D.C., are not the group’s only outlet. Storytelling, as Kadlubek sees it, will include other avenues Meow Wolf has employed in the past, including episodic TV, feature film, animation, comic books, podcasts and more.

About Nathan Hurst

Nathan Hurst blends a love of storytelling with a passion for science and the outdoors, covering technology, the environment, and much more. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Wired, Outside, Make: and Smithsonian.

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