Pete Hellicar and Joel Gethin Lewis took a break from their hectic schedules to talk about their work and passion since starting Hellicar & Lewis in 2008. They focus on the intersection of art, technology and design to create experiences that bring people into the moment and leave memories, not just impressions.
Pete said that “telling the truth should be your killer app” and that you need to change contexts to find those unique intersections between art and technology. They create systems that make feedback loops which engage and adapt to people.
Pete and Joel are big believers in the open source movement and they share everything they do to allow the crowd to expand on their work as they do the same. They believe that sharing is better for everyone involved because it allows your work to help others and the work of others to help you.
They like to work on new stuff and collaborated with Wieden+Kennedy, Nexus Productions, Coca-Cola and others to create a live music event with the band Maroon 5 where they would compose and release a track in 24 hours.
They built a system that took real-time input from people around the world using social media that connected the band to their global audience. They used a lot of videos to illustrate their progress and show how things would actually work during their meetings with Coke. They have talked to BBC News about using a similar interactive projection system for live broadcasts. The system would give them the ability to have outside broadcasts with social response happening in real-time in the background.
The work they did with Coke also fed into another project they are working on with Dr. Wendy Keay-Bright of the Cardiff School of Art and Design. They are creating two systems called reactickles and somantics that are meant to help kids on the autistic spectrum. Reactickles is a therapeutic tool to help kids manage symptoms while semantics is a tool for self-expression.
Joel said that the real motivation for this project really crystalized for them when they saw companies at a “trade show selling similar systems for between £15000-20000.” Joel said that was all the motivation they needed “to go out there and destroy their business model.” They hope that this software will help with the problem of stimming which is a repetitive body movement that an autistic child will do to control under or over stimulation. The software allows kids to interact with simple shapes and colours in different ways so that they don’t have to stim in order to feel like they are in control.
It was great for them to go back to Coke later and say that what they created for the live 24 hour music event is now helping autistic children in part because the work was open source. The presentation was informative, the work for Coke was innovative and unique but more than that reactickles and somantics should be an inspiration to us all.
Below is a short video that shows a little of the Coke 24hr Music project: