Introducing Arcitecta’s newest recruit: Anna Smith, Chief Creative Officer


Chief Creative Officer (CCO) has got to be one of the coolest jobs. How did you get here?

Absolutely one of the coolest jobs! It's pretty rare to find a position like this in a company, let alone an IT company. Kudos to Arcitecta for valuing creative input, content, and experimentation.

Jason Lohrey, Arcitecta's Founder and CTO, speaks of his time at Bundanon, an artist's residency in New South Wales, Australia. Jason often reflects that Bundanon provided him the time to spend in the studio, in dialogue with other artists and wandering the property, which has influenced the development of Arcitecta.

Interestingly, I was invited to undertake the Bundanon artists residency and requested that Jason come along. Bundanon welcomed Jason. I think the organisers were curious about what he would produce, having not had anyone from a deep IT background in residence before.

We worked in the studio together, relishing the opportunity to work in a shared creative space. I was working on a choreographic work, Spun by a Thread, which later went on to win the Green Room Award for Outstanding Choreography for 2001. One fundamental thing I learned from my time at Bundanon and from my time as Research Associate on two ARC funded projects into Choreographic Cognition is that time and space to think and reflect are essential for innovation.

You have a well-established career in the creative space. Can you tell us about other ventures outside of Bundanon?

I am a practicing educator, choreographer, and community artist. Dancing from an early age led me to a Bachelor of Education double degree in Dance and Drama and later onto a Masters in Choreography. I danced professionally both in Australia and in Canada and gradually moved from dancer to choreographer. I knew I was more interested in making new art than dancing and facilitating someone else's vision. In 1998, I founded my own dance company and presented multiple works in Australia. I deeply appreciate form, structure, and function and often look to mathematical patterns or structured chaos for inspiration - this is pertinently evident in my artistic practice.

I have been commissioned to choreograph works in most states and territories in Australia and have devised intergenerational and interdisciplinary community projects with over 120 performers. My works have been performed in France, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, the USA, Malaysia, and I traveled to China to co-curate an interdisciplinary residency with students from China and the Victorian College of the Arts (The University of Melbourne). More recently, I was accepted into a candidature for Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, where I will focus on Interdisciplinary Practice.

The CCO is a newly created role. Why do you think it was created at Arcitecta?

Coders are creative. Their practice is artistic. From scratch, they are creating from first principles and solving problems through innovative methods. Coders are at the forefront of NEW. And Arcitecta's innovators are constantly dealing with the creation of the new. What other discipline outside of the formally recognised Arts is so closely aligned to these artistic principles?

Arcitecta recognises the need for innovation. To innovate, you need to be thinking, considering, looking at and immersed in creative ventures. Whether this is in the environment of daily office endeavours or exposure to new art – Arcitecta values what the Creative and Performative Arts can bring to the table. The Arcitecta team is encouraged to look beyond their immediate work environment to find ways of incorporating their interests or passion into their work.

What inspires you in 2021, and how can we expect to see that translate into your work at Arcitecta?

  • Refik Anadol's Quantum Memories - This is a fantastic collision of the digital world and art, combing quantum computing and artificial intelligence to create an awe-inspiring and hypnotic artwork.
  • My environment - I am often inspired by my environment, taking time to notice the small details rather than getting lost down the digital screen's rabbit hole. By observing nature and environmental patterns, we can draw upon systems of knowledge that the environment has refined and perfected over millions of years. Looking to nature to problem solve is well researched and documented. We need to take time to look sideways, consider natural systems at play, and if nothing comes from the experimentation, that's ok. We need to experiment to innovate.
  • Women and girls coding - I am looking forward to developing the relationship with Grad Girls and how we can think creatively to engage younger women to explore their potential in code.