A well-known member of the digital arts community, Andreas Muller has found a way making money doing what he loves to do it. As he puts it, “I don't make stuff to make money. I make money to make more stuff.” He even jokes about his tumultuous relationship with his accountant.
In his presentation, Muller describes the ideas behind the various projects he has worked on. When he started, his work included For All Seasons, a series of reflections that correspond to each season and begin to animate some of the imagery from the short written pieces and Hana, a representation of what a computer must imagine when properties of a flower are described by humans.
Muller goes on to describe other projects that he's worked on up until the present, included the work he's done for large companies like Hyundai and Nokia to create interactive work to promote their products. These projects include live visuals for English rock band Kasabian and Hyundai's i40 light reveal, where a system of lights was used to reveal the car only a little bit at a time, creating a sense of intrigue and mystery.
Andreas compares his personal work to his commercial work. Where his personal work is meant to be an immersing experience, commercial work is like a quick joke – it's meant to amuse and entertain in a short burst. For Andreas, the most important thing is to create something you're happy with, despite whether or not you're interested in the product that the work is supposed to sell.
Muller's latest project, a system of automated fans designed to keep a ball afloat, may not be near completion, however he describes it as an experience which he has learned a lot from. From prototyping to experimenting with different materials and creating simulations with openFrameworks, the process of creating is also one of learning, which to Andreas is gratifying in itself.
For much of the presentation he imparts advice he's gathered from the experiences of his career, but he is quick to point out that he doesn't always take his own advice. Muller emphasizes how important honesty is, whether it's honesty with clients or with yourself, everyone has more to gain when honesty is paramount. Other pieces of advice he imparted were to try to work in groups of a maximum of 3 or 4 people because problems will arise from working in too large of a group. And, perhaps most importantly, do interesting work to nab interesting clients.
Finally, he reflects on the problems he sees with digital creation, which is too keen a focus on technology. It's an interesting statement to make at FITC but one that's worthy of reflection. Technology should be a tool of the work being created and not the focus. For Muller, being told which technology to use at the beginning of the project impedes on the project's potential of expressing an idea, something the industry should be wary of. For a creative to make great work, the technology needs to stem from the idea or the message that's being expressed. Technology should be at the service of the art and not the other way around.
Andreas' parting words were in the form of a Samuel Beckett quote that any creative person can appreciate, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."