For the last couple of years we’ve had the privilege to start FITC off a day early with a preview event hosted by the Adobe User Group Nederlands. Open to all with the cream of the crop of the speakers presenting: Jason White, Mario Klingemann, Kyle McDonald and Sougwen Chung. Each and every one an amazing creator in their own field.
The night kicked off with Jason White, Executive Creative Director at Leviathan. Have you seen this year’s titles sequence for FITC Amsterdam? Those were made by Leviathan. Jason starts by showing his sketches, because he just loves to draw. The stuff he draws is a cross between art and technology with a sci-fi feel to it. He draws in the office, on planes and even during symphonies. He takes us on a journey through his latest works and projects, first stop; Amon Tobin’s - ISAM. They created a massive wall of geometrical shapes to be used for projection mapping. Since Tobin’s music is very ambient, the animation also needed to have the same feel to it. Both White and Tobin are huge sci-fi geeks and you can see that in the animation they made. Gloomy atmosphere – Bladerunner meets 1980’s TRON, smoke-in-cubes-starfield-bonanza. White talked about the first exploration they did with the technology and the mistakes made. Tuning and tweaking it to perfection – it all built up towards an amazing live show. Ambient chaos with fluid and mechanical animations well executed – timed to the beat. Graphical Porn with a capital P.
The next project he presented were the opening titles for this year’s FITC Amsterdam. This project was all about the love for design and art. They used the workshop of a befriended artist with all the brushes, paints, paper and other supplies still there – uncleaned. Which made for some great shots. But they wanted go deeper in the material. So they did. Literally. They created their own microscope filming rig and went on a journey to explore wax, charcoal and plaster at 40 times zoom. They found hidden mountains, forests and even spikey landscapes. Combined with a strong voice-over that speaks the voice of creativity this resulted in an spine-tingling and beautiful experience.
After a short break accompanied with some beats from the resident DJ and a complimentary open bar for all, the next speaker took the stage. Known to many as long time “the f-word” developer under the pseudonym of Quasimondo, a creative can-do-it-all, Mario Klingemann. Always fast, enthusiastic, happy and a bit chaotic, but that’s the way we like it. Seeing his projects are always a visual feast for the eyes and a tickling feather for the brain.
Lately he has made a step into the maker community using laser cutters and 3D printers because he wanted to teach himself how to produce tangible things. Things he could hold in his hands. This led him to create “self-breakable art”. Using a slot machine, electric knife and a guillotine. If the user hits the jackpot the machine destroys itself. No explanation needed.
His latest endeavour in programming was the tagging and categorizing of library images. Turns out that the British Library scanned and uploaded 1 million book pages to Flickr in the public domain. All images originate from the Gutenberg’s press up until now. Using the ‘R’ language he wrote an algorithm that found shapes that are not text, and he categorized and tagged them back to Flickr so that other people can find them. His finds were amazing – collections with only ornaments, only men with beards, only crying women, only music pieces, or collections with collections. Once every 200,000 images he finds some jewels like amazing marble patterns or weird objects. His eyes lit up when talking about this. “And the cool thing is sometimes you find images that have only one view and that is you. At that moment he was quite the digital Columbus.
After this he went into some of his other work; we see a tool – of course created in Flash – that he calls ‘Wordanist’. It creates random words from a dictionary that look and sound like English but do not exist. It then does a Google search with that word and if it has zero results he posts that new word to a tumblr blog. Practical uses; creating words for new products, startups or new band names. Useless fun.
The last two speakers were Kyle McDonald and Sougwen Chung. Kyle began his presentation with an experiment he did the minute before – piece of text, this created totally new characters. Something similar to the work that Mario creates. He shows us work that he has done with a Kinect and computer vision, allowing him to tweet with his brows. Since he open-sourced the project, people adapted it to fit their own needs and someone created an actual human beatbox without making any sound themselves – just by movement. Someone else created percussion music only by pulling silly faces. Really funny and looks very fluid.
Another project he has done was the “blind artist” where people had to keep hold of a pencil that was hooked up to a computer. With a camera pointed at their face, as soon as the subject closed their eyes the machine would draw a portrait of them. Such an awkward experience that one female artist kept repeating “I didn’t make this.” She just could not believe it.
Another weird but very funny experiment was the @keytweeter where Kyle wrote a keylogger and basically posted everything he typed to Twitter – code, Google searches and any other text. This led to some very awkward tweets! The point of the experiment was to see if people care if lines between online and offline blur and what their reaction to it was. Quite the social experiment.
And last but certainly not least was Sougwen Chung, an artist whose work explores transitional edges. Her artistic expression includes installation, sculptures, still image, drawing on music, and live performance. She began by showing some videos of the projects she’s done – projection mapping, illustrations on music, art experimentation at 5AM in Stockholm – it’s all there. All her work is very fluid and organic and composed to the right sounds. Whether it is beats or classical violin it just fits as a soundtrack to her work. She does a lot of form studies and shows us some examples of that. What I loved about her presentation was as she showed her work she clearly enjoys it – a luxury not all artists can and will afford.
After this final presentation the DJ started spinning again and the bar reopened. As this night was coming to an end it was good to see that most people were leaving with a satisfied head full of inspiration and ready for FITC Amsterdam.
This post was written by guest blogger, Sidney de Koning from Funky Monkey.