Hey guys, welcome back to the Luminous Arts! I spend the next hour and a half talking to a good friend of mine, David Glicksman. He’s the Director of Creative Technology at Gensler’s DxD department in LA. They’re doing some really next-level installations in some of the world's most impressive architectural projects. David’s an incredibly creative guy and he’s been part of the scene from the beginning. He started with VFX and motion graphics and moved into the digital placemaking industry a few years ago when he took the helm at DxD. Our conversation is great and we get into the weeds about what it means to be truly creative and an artist in this industry. I loved this conversation and I bet you will too!
In this episode, I sit down with my friend Nathan Lachenmyer to talk about his work as a creative technologist. He started his career at MIT, in my hometown of Boston, which is actually how I met Nathan in the first place. Nathan is a super talented creator and he’s worked on some iconic installations at the Dana Farber Institute and the Tate Modern. His work with kinetic sculptures early on informed some of his more recent work incorporating machine learning with robotic free-floating artificial life forms at the Tate. Pretty wild stuff!
It’s very cool to talk with Nathan about how his career has progressed since finishing school. Our conversation was so natural and easy, we both know so many of the same people. It’s an interesting dive into some unique parts of the New Media Arts Scene and I think that you’re going to love listening to us jam!
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Christopher Bauder, the founder of White Void, was one of the people that I had in mind when I started the Luminous Arts podcast. I was in Berlin for the Touch Designer Summit when I first saw his work. It was a performance called Skalar and it was being shown in an old abandoned transit station. It was just crazy to me that thousands of people would gather to watch a performance centered around lighting and visuals. The music was just a supporting element, not the focus of the show. Whitevoid, which is the name of Chris’s design company, creates some of the most amazing lighting performances I’ve ever seen. They combine kinetic lighting, lasers, and music in a totally unique way. It’s like he’s using light as a fluid to fill a 3-dimensional space.
Our conversation wanders, like conversations here tend to do. We start by talking about our youths and how growing up in the techno scene in Berlin shaped his artistic path. Both of us spent our early years exploring the techno scenes in the places where we grew up, which led us to experimenting with the visual arts. Even though we grew up at different times and on different continents, there’s a lot of shared experience between us that was really interesting to explore. I’d been waiting years to have this conversation and I’m excited for the next time Chris and I can meet in person.
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Bill and I started to circle each other off of the Shiny list about a year and a half ago. He’s an OG head in the new media arts scene and he’s worked with some of the most iconic groups and projects in our community. Bot and Dolly, Future Forward, Nonotak, Obscura, GMunk, VT Pro, Leviathan, he’s been around the block and literally knows everyone doing anything cool with tech art. Just recently we started working together in a professional context and I thought it was about time we did an episode together. You should check this one out if for no other reason than to listen to us gossip like old grandpas and reminisce stories from the heat of battle. I consider Bill a good friend at this point, someone who really understands the game and I can talk to about the challenges that I face putting together crews and running my company. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did, it’s a good one!
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Nick is the creative mind behind one of the most impressive works of kinetic new media arts I’ve seen. The piece is called morph and it’s truly a genius mix of form, motion, light, and sound. I saw the work come through my social media feeds and immediately wanted to get in touch.
Our conversation was mostly about the creative process, I wanted to understand how Morph went from concept to reality. Hired by a curator from Austria to produce the piece for a gallery show in a renovated castle, the final setting for this piece could not be a better contrast to their high-tech installation.
His co-creators, MindBuffer, developed the software used to drive the light, motion, and sound and are geniuses in their own right. I definitely look forward to meeting them as well. They all came together in Berlin and worked out of a maker space called MotionLab to finish the build.
Definitely check out their portfolio page before you listen to this episode so you get a sense of the project we’re talking about. Hope you enjoy the episode, I know I did!
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Tiffany Trenda is a new media fashion artist based out of LA. We met each other through my friend Anouk, another new media artist active in the fashion-tech scene. I was curious how the conversation would go. We spoke on the phone about a week ago and our conversation was really flowing. That totally continued through this episode.
She’s spent her artistic career creating a physical narrative through performances using handmade costumes and tech-infused clothing. She never shows her face and encourages the audience to interact with screens that are attached to her body.
Her work is really unique and super compelling. We talk about performance art in the time of Covid, bridging the uncanny valley, how NFT’s apply to physical new media art, and of course, the singularity.
Check it out, I know you’ll love this one!
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Welcome back to the Luminous Arts! This time I’m talking to my friend Luke Taylor from all the way over in Australia. He’s the lead engineer for Advatek, the company that makes the Pixlite line of LED controllers. We’ve been using his hardware for years, giving them shit when we need new features and working with them to keep the needs of the light artist front and center in their development process. This episode is a nerdy one, so be forewarned, we get into the weeds!
We talk about how his company formed and the path he’s taken as a developer working in the pixel control world. Sorting through the myriad of pixel technologies can be a dizzying process, but his company does a great job demystifying it for amateurs and professionals alike.
We talk about the fundamental ways that artists use LED controllers to tie their installations together, what kinds of features are important and matter to people, and the line between controller and pattern engine.
It’s a fascinating if not a totally geeky conversation, and I’m stoked we finally got to connect and have a good chat.
Welcome back my artist people! In this episode I’m talking with Shlomo Zippel, a developer turned light artist based out of the Bay Area. We’ve kind of been in each other’s orbits for years but we’d never actually met in person. Recently I started dating a friend of his, and that prompted me to get in touch. He was one of the original contributors to the software and hardware driving the Tree of Tenere and he’s been in the scene for the past 10 years. I figured we’d have a lot to talk about!
Recently Shlomo’s been working on launching an experiential art space here in San Francisco. Kind of in the vein of Meow Wolf and Team Labs but with a decidedly light-art/Avatar-esque feel to it. He’s putting a unique spin on the concept of immersive art installations and collaborating with some amazing local light artists.
Simultaneously he’s developing an LED controller that he wants to take to market soon after his art space launches. It’s really software that he’s developing to run on a variety of microcontroller platforms. It incorporates a really capable pattern engine and it works in a fundamentally distributed manner. Like you would deploy lots of them into an installation and they work like some kind of LED hive mind. The swarm of controllers collectively spread the processing power out across the entire fleet of devices meaning there’s no need for a massive and expensive server sitting at the center of the installation. It’s a super cool concept and I loved geeking out with him on how this type of system could change the way artists think about their installations. It’s a great conversation, yet another amazing artist/engineer doing crazy things with technology. I think you’re going to dig it!
Photo credit: Eleanor Preger
Toshi and I have been friends for almost 20 years. I met him on a beach in Cape Cod during a psytrance party. He was an established VJ in the Boston scene and I was just trying to figure out how that whole world worked. He brought me into the fold and taught me about the software and the methods that people were using to mix visuals live to electronic music.
We’ve stayed in touch throughout the years, both moving to the Bay Area, both pursuing our own careers, watching each other grow and mature on our own respective paths. When he agreed to do an episode of the Luminous Arts I was stoked and even though we couldn’t sit down in person it was so good to catch up.
Toshi is an amazingly deep thinker and a very intelligent guy. Our conversation was fun because it let both of us go deep on some really important topics relating to the ethics of the use of technology. He works for the Institute for the Future, a non-profit focused on just that. He runs a department there that allows him to explore, among other things, the various ways that VR can be used to generate positive change in the world.
I think you’re going to dig this conversation. It winds its way through the world of immersive new media art, through the role of social media in society, and into our responsibility to help shape the world using technology. Let’s dive in!
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This is a really special episode for me. Joshua is one of the pioneers in the performance visual arts scene. He was one of the first to project live visuals on stage and since I was 18 years old I’ve known about his work as one of the pioneers of visual music. When I was vjing professionally back in 2005 I got a chance to meet Josh and work with him at Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. I wanted to go deep with him then and get into his story but there just wasn’t time. This year I reached out and asked him to do an episode and he agreed!
We had an excellent conversation about how he came up in the scene during the 60s and the influence that San Francisco during the Summer of Love had on his artistic development. He tells me about the cultural atmosphere that allowed his work to flourish and what it was like to make a name for himself during that time. It’s a really cool recounting of the bicoastal counterculture during another period of national upheaval and it’s hilarious how similar things were.
It struck me how some of the paths he blazed to make a living creating new media art are the same paths I see myself and my peers walking. It was cool to reflect on the generational differences and similarities between us and get his perspective on the state of new media arts today.
So check it out, I think you’ll dig our conversation and maybe it will help to put your own work and career path into a new perspective!