The only thing i had ever seen of Ujino Muneteru was the poster of a rather fascinating sonic sculptural instrument he calls the Love Arm. It was 2 years ago at ars electronica. I keep hoping i'll see more of his work one day but in the meantime, lucky me! Vicente Gutierrez managed to meet the artist and together with photographer Martin Holtkamp visited him in his studio. Here's the result of their meeting:

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Muneteru in his studio, by Martin Holtkamp

Tokyo based sound sculpture artist and performer Ujino Muneteru's Rotators is a giant tweaked-out jewelry box of modern and out-dated technology. While many old objects are ubiquitous in Muneteru's work, its not the same old story of trash art. Muneteru works to discover new histories in material objects once discarded only to delicately care for them in hopes of restoring any sentimental value once lost. Tangled in Pop Art, Noise and some Dada, his conversions, performances and arrangements of junk and vintage are an insight into the role of materialism and what is of value in our lives- what is deemed junk or vintage or valid pop-iconography is largely up to the viewer. WMMNA caught up with Muneteru in his Tokyo studio to discuss the 'Japan-ness' of his work, all things junk and vintage and how dance culture fits into everything he does.

"my work is like plastic ikebana."

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The Rotators. Photo: Masanori Ikeda, Courtesy of Muneteru.

You just returned from the Beautiful New World exhibition in China...how was it?

Well, I was in Beijing for two weeks setting up an installation of the rotators for an exhibition at the Long March space as part of Beautiful New World, it was to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the relationship of The Japan Foundation with China. So I had set up the rotators to be there playing automatically. Before the exhibit, I did some shopping in China for some old materials for this exhibit to make it a little unique for China, like I did before in Vancouver. So, just like 10 days before the exhibit, in Beijing I bought an old drill, blender, vacuum cleaner and lots of lamps. I'd say that about 50% of the items were bought in China. In Vancouver, I bought 95% of the items for the rotators exhibit.

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The Rotators 'Robertson and Phillips' at The Western Front, Vancouver,Canada. Courtesy of Munteru.

A lot of your work relies on old things, so was it easier to buy things in China or Vancouver?

I think it was easier in Vancouver. There's just a longer sense of history of material things there. The part of people's lives that is concerned with material things is longer in western culture, I feel. In China, there weren't many second hand things- it was so hard to find old things or anything with sentimental value. Everything was so new and as soon as anything gets old, its thrown away or people sell whatever is metal to a steel company for melting these days. So a lot things are made of plastic. I mean, I've been to many modern cities in the east and west and that being my first time in China, everything was different and it was a challenge to collect older materials for my work.

Maybe in the future, in about 10 years or so, there will be more older things laying around to be used by someone else.

So how about in Japan?

Well, compared to western countries and China, both being foreign to Japan, well, I think we have a longer history of westernization. Westernization in Japan has been in effect longer so I think we've developed more of an appreciation of material things. Its a gradual process that takes years. With the way the cultural revolution went in China, I feel China's economy boom is like catching up- they are quickly developing western sensibilities for western things. You can see that in how fast Shanghai developed into a major international city.

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Platform for the Rotators. Photo: Masanori Ikeda, Courtesty of Muneteru

Ah, so how did Chinese people react to the rotators installation?

Well, people approached and looked at it as a mechanical piece. Like some strange kind of robot.

How does that compare to the way a Westerner would?

In Vancouver, visitors to the exhibit thought it was like someone's grandmother's home. I think their reaction was a bit more sentimental. Younger Chinese visitors seemed to be a lot more concentrated and their eyes were a fixed. I mean, they read more contemporary art related media like magazines and blogs and stuff- they tried to understand it or understood it and were at least sensitive to it but I thought that older people, especially those in the art world or 'industry', didn't seem to care so much. The same is true for Japanese older generations, too. But anyways, one night, I had wanted to do a performance at the gallery but I couldn't so we set up the rotators at a club- it was great, a great space too. You know, it was like a cool club in any big city but it felt like- well, in other cities, I feel that some spaces are divided by scenes, like a rock club is for rock and a house club is for house, etc, but this place was like a beautiful fusion of it all. What added to it all was that it was really small like a Japanese live house.

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'The Savage's Plastic Ikebana Session' 2007. Photo: Masanori Ikeda, Courtesy of Muneteru

You've adapted a new title for this particular installation of the rotators in Beijing, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Ah, the name, well, 'the savages' has a couple meanings, the first is referring to media art. A lot of the artists that were part of the Beautiful New World exhibit use computers or newer technology in their works and well, I don't. The technology I use is pre-1985 so it's a reference to being somewhat archaic, uncivilized and to a point- savage.

The other way of looking at the name is that it is a reference to an ancient tale of China and Japan, like 2000 years ago, it's kind of a long and messy story, but it really did influence the naming of this particular exhibit.


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The Rotatorhead which controls it all. Photo Masanori Ikeda, Courtesy of Muneteru

Great, back to rotators for a minute...a majority of the materials in your work are western, and if I didn't know you were Japanese upon viewing your work, how would I know this was done by a Japanese artist? What is Japanese about your work?

Well, It's really easy to get lots of objects for my work in Japan because there's so much old technology laying around in old recycle electronic shops. Every time i find and buy old junk things, I want to clean them up and polish them, make them nice again- presentable. The fact that there are many western things in the rotators, clicks with the idea of it being like a grandmother's room- you can get the sense that these things are or were precious because they had a home, they were once loved.

I think I put some love into combining and assembling them in such a way that in the end it's a sound sculpture. But I think my work is very neat, clean, organized and the layout is very proper. It's like a japanese bento, ya know? [laughs] Very organized, its own structure and aesthetic is present there. When I have assistants helping me, I tell them, "make it like a Japanese bento." Sometimes I say my work is like plastic ikebana because of its precise arrangement.

You said it so easy to get things in Japan because of a high turnover and I'm thinking- is there a relationship in your work to the record levels of mass consumerism in Japan?

Japanese people want to have the latest thing so they buy what's new and ditch the old at recycle shops. In this area, there are so many recycling shops that are formal companies, they have many trucks and assemble and gather peoples old goods for sale in shops, there is so much recycling going on here and that works out for me. I like to take that junk and re use it.

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Another shot of The Rotators. Courtesy of Muneteru

So do you see a difference in what is junk and what is vintage?

Some junk or cheap things may be vintage in a few years as they appreciate over time, but thats an interesting point, I will say that everything in the rotators is junk!

I read on your website, "the neatness and cleanliness are a very core of Japanese authentic beauty...a wild chaos can only exist as the subject of exoticism."

Yeah, thats true, I like it, I need it.

Ok. what's the message in rotators?

Well, its DIY. With an emphasis on physical means- just using your hands and body to make your own things- sculptures or instruments- using technology in your own way and not letting it dictate function. You know, its like a computer, the keyboard is made for your fingers, and we shouldn't limit our thinking to that way. I try to find the opposite way and do it. With the rotators, I feel I am reversing that relationship, that I am in control of technology, not vice versa.

But everywhere I look technology is getting more function specific and smaller? that's good, no?

Well, especially, in Japan! Japan excels at making things smaller and for now, thats the direction most technology is going, smaller and smaller, micro and nano. But I think it's too small for people and we're leaving something out. I remember in 1978, at a video game arcade, I saw an arcade game booth drop set into a table, like a sit down cabinet and that changed video games forever, since then, things have been getting smaller and smaller, but there are ergonomic limits, you know? I don't like using small buttons, I like older stuff, things that truly follow the human form for function. I mean, in the cyber world, there is no weight, nothing physical, no heaviness, and I like using real, bulky things, I don't want to lose that.

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Ozone - So Provided by Mizuma Art Gallery. Courtesy of Munteru

So is rotators a toy or musical instrument? Is it interactive?

No, it is not interactive, but I want to make it more interactive in the future and work in that direction, I am planning and working on a human-scale, ergonomic, drum machine. Interactive is next!

Ok, I have to ask you, you mentioned dance culture as an influence in your work, please explain!

Well, I like drum machines. I love the beats. And I'm interested in making sounds, especially sounds with a groove. I want to make music and do live performances and its all about the beat in dance so I like to use low frequency sounds, like using a blender- it gives off a nice low sound. And about dance music, well, I like thicker, more embellished beats like Prince- he had an influence on me in terms of the music.

I wanted to make, I wanted a groove.

Great! So what's next for you and rotators?

Well, I've got a live performance coming up soon, with Chim Pom, this young art collective. Two of the members used to be my assistants a few years ago when I was making Ozone-so, Ryuta Ushiro and Yasuyaka Hayashi. Other members are students of Aida Makoto. That's Chim Pom and they have a different way of making music but its really physical and focuses on objects too, in a realistic way. So we're going to have a live performance together. I'm thinking of a Berlin exhibit next year.

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Flyer for Sunday's performance. Courtesy of Muneteru

And any news on the Love Arm series or ozone-so for fans out there?

Well, I am not working on it now because i've been so busy with the rotators but in the future I will for sure continue it and work on Love Arm number 5, haven't started yet, but I will. And ozone-so is currently being exhibited in Germany now, and it will be exhibited in Berlin next year, in March, I'll go there to do a live performance too.

The live performance with Chim Pom will be Sunday the 28th!
at Open studio *3.0 in Tokyo. And on December 22nd, I'll be performing in Harajuku at the LaForet museum with several other performers.

Thanks so much Ujino for sharing and discussing ideas in your work- we had a great time at your studio! Thanks!

Sponsored by:





_milkandtales.jpgThe British collective Milk and Tales is made of three young women who design interactive environments for cultural venues. I don't know how they do it but each of their new projects manages to enchant everyone: kids and their grand parents, Londoners and tourists, people for whom interactive environments is a new expression and old grumpy blasés like me who keep on complaining that interaction is getting tired and tiring.

Who is Milk and Tales? How did you get to work on interactive environments?

We are Arlete Castelo, Melissa Mongiat and Kelsey Snook.
We met on the MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments (CPNE) course at Central Saint Martins, in London, and started working on projects together, in parallel to the course activities.

– We also have a set of rotating collaborators for different projects. We have been working with Dan Harris, Charles Ward, Matthew Olden and Rakhi Rajani on some projects, we are currently working with Chris O'Shea on a new project.

We started to work on interactive installations together as an offshoot from the course where we were fine-tuning our skills in creating narrative environments. A narrative environment is an experience or a place designed to communicate a story, is hopefully engaging and a place for dialogue. Interactive environments are inevitably linked to narrative environments. We’ve got a mix of skills and are very happy designing both.

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Hidden Love Song

Your installations seem to manage to get the broad public immediately engaged and entertained. At the same time, your works are very elegantly designed. Is one of you responsible for the "look" of an installation and someone else works more intensely on the sound technicalities or on the experience side of it? How do you work?

Arlete and Melissa have a background in communication / graphic design and Kelsey has one in in product and installation design. In concept phases, our skills blend to work on the experience of the user/visitor/passer-by – that is our focus and what attracted us to the MA CPNE. For design detailing and production though, we may be working separately on different parts depending on our expertise and we usually seek extra help for technological development, but this is always done in a collaborative spirit, so that in the end, we all have a say and all make sure we are working towards a cohesive whole.

How much do you manage to control the way people interact with your work? Which kind of unexpected behaviour have you witnessed with your installations? Any bad or good surprise? What have you learnt from the way people interact with your works?

We like unexpected behaviours, we see our role as providing a medium for people to be creative. However, for the interaction to work, we feel there needs to be a careful study of the context. We carefully plan the first spark, and then let it go from there.

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Hidden Love Song

When we study the context, we're looking at factors such as the environment, the user, and the existing types of behavior in the environment. This enables us to set the foundation for a successful interactive piece, however, we enjoy when people find new ways to use our work and take ownership over what we do. For example, in Gamelan Playtime, we took time to study how people moved in the space and understood that everyone was in a hurry with no time to stop. We made it a priority for people to only have to stroke the wall while passing by for the interaction to work. However, when the installation was up, we realised people were stopping to pull and twist the buffers and were spending a lot of time discovering the different instruments and creating their own piece. They were seeking much more engagement than what we had anticipated. For the following installation of the same 'Keeping in Touch' series, Hidden Love Song, we provided a much more flexible and empowering medium, the scratch-off layer. People could scratch the wall to reveal hidden words or sounds, but they could also scratch in their own messages or simply draw. The piece was particularly nice because it wasn't precious, the whole wall was fair game for manipulation.

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Gamelan Playtime

Gamelan Playtime was created for the Royal Festival Hall in London. What was the brief for that project? How easy or difficult is it to get such a prestigious and probably a bit conservative institution to accept your unusual ideas.

First we have to mention that we have been working with the Learning and Participation team at the Royal Festival Hall, who is one of our very innovative and most forward thinking clients. Their way of doing and thinking has been an inspiration for our work, and was really a true collaboration. We met Shân Maclennan, head of L&P through the MA CPNE network and she asked us to come up with an interesting experience using the RFH hoardings while the building was closed for refurbishment. The initial thought was that we could start with communicating Gamelan workshops held with primary school children in Lambeth. They wanted to bring back the life that usually inhabited the area when the building was open. Typical marketing posters campaign didn't seem to do that.

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Gamelan Playtime

We came up with a broader program that we called 'Keeping In Touch' which would aim to communicate ongoing activities to the general public via an interactive system on the RFH hoardings for the entire duration of the refurbishment period. This system was made up of a tactile surface, sensors and a sound system which would enable a series of hoarding to go up every 2-3 months. This would keep a momentum with the audience until the re-opening of the hall, and maximise the use of the interactive system. Even though Shân could not commit to the program at the start, we ended up having 3 cycles on the hoardings, up until they took the hoardings down. Then followed PLAY.orchestra on the Riverside Terrace. Now the RFH is open, and we are still working with them on various interactive systems.

Where does the idea of PLAY.orchestra come from?

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The brief came from the Royal Festival Hall (RFH) in collaboration with the Philharmonia Orchestra (PO). The PO wanted to communicate their Sound Exchange website, which enables the general public to download sounds from the orchestra and upload their own.

This installation was to take place on the Riverside Terrace which was not very busy, though a lot of people would pass by. Some people were using the seating in the area to take breaks. We needed to make it a destination point, for all audiences.

The Philharmonia initially thought of having their website on the hoardings for people to take part in the sound exchange. We thought it was all a bit too abstract for people to come by and want to 'exchange sounds' through a website interface on a hoarding. So we thought through what a sound exchange meant to begin with: it was about taking part in the Orchestra, learning about the sounds and sending your own for a composition to take place. We noticed on the website there was a page of the orchestra scheme with all the instruments laid out in their particular spot and the sound they each make. So there, we decided to recreate the orchestra scheme on a stage with only seats. Each seat was labeled with its instrument. When people would sit, they would activate the sound of the instrument. All together, they would hear an entire piece, either classical or specially commissioned pieces. Once comfortably sitting and engaged, people could further take part in the orchestra by sending their own sounds via their mobile phones. A composition was made with all the sounds received and took place on the PLAY.orchestra installation in the last two weeks of its showing.

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It turned out to be a huge success that the Royal Festival Hall directors could witness from their office windows not very far away. We also have had quite a lot of demand for it from around the world. We are now in discussion with the RFH and the Philharmonia to make a touring version.

In general, how much do you have to battle to get your vision of a work accepted? Do you get carte blanche?

It is very rare to get carte blanche, we feel the biggest trick is to be resourceful! Our process is pretty rational and directly responds to a client's need, so it's does not feel like a battle to have our ideas accepted. The biggest challenge is always to fully understand the context, the client's desires and apprehensions, and then of course to make the idea work within budget...

Which kind of advice would you give to young designers who would like to work on similar projects? What are the pitfalls? What worked well for you?

We feel we've been pretty lucky with our opportunities, but our advice to new designers in the field— to see the opportunity to do something great in every brief, to think ahead and make the opportunity exciting even when the brief might not be. Gamelan Playtime's initial brief was just a hoarding design that could have seemed somewhat boring, and made with a very small budget. But where there's a will... Our first design had a great response and so the idea was allowed to grow. We also were careful to plan a basic interactive system that could be changed in a series of different installations, and luckily we were able to produce a series!

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Is there any spot in London where you´d love to install a work?

Many spots... of course the Tate would be nice. An installation for the Olympics as part of a celebration, that would be great. The New York City Subway has a great art installation and tile art programme, which has really changed the experience of using their transport system. We would love a chance to do something similar for Transport for London. Tube journeys are just torturous, the NYC subway isn't a whole lot better, but when you are navigating the subway maze or arrive at stations where there is some kind of installation, you feel at least that your journey hasn't been all that bad. It's an opportune 'dead' time and space where people have the time to engage, if you can pique their interest.

Thanks Arlete, Melissa,and Kelsey!

All images courtesy of Milk and Tales.

Vicente Gutierrez, a writer and editor currently based in Tokyo, has kindly proposed to be a correspondent for wmmna in Japan. He recently sent me an introduction and the translation of his interview with Exonemo, adding that i could edit anything to my liking. Well, there's nothing in what you're going to read below that i could improve, so here's his text:

Exonemo, the Japanese duo made up of Sembo Kensuke and Yae Akaiwa, have developed several experimental works ranging from sound and video processing, software programming, hardware circuit bending, installations as well as live performance. With enough crossing over, exonemo continue to blur the lines of discipline and if you ask them whether they are designers, programmers, visual or media artists, you'll find they don't really care.

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Exonemo performing (photo credit Martin Holtkamp)

After meeting in university, they started working together under the contrived moniker 'exonemo' and specify the Unix hacker culture of the 90s as a bedrock influence as well as the continuing evolution of the internet- "as web technology keeps developing, it allows us to do more and more."

The concept driven circuit tweakers have reanalyzed the contexts of computer programming and investigated a new potential of the internet, making it their primary platform. As a result, exonemo has created new consequences of hardware and soft technology and their work serves as a lasting commentary on our evolving relationship with technology- whether that be a sense of alienation or [dis]connection.
Exonemo's inviting DIY style and rising popularity have led these two rebel programmers to be often considered the new face of Japan's media art scene.

WMMNA had a chance to catch up with Exonemo right before their performance of Exonemonster, a mix of forgotten electronic instruments revitalized with a mind of their own, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on October 4th.

Here's a video preview.

I heard you were just in China, what was Exonemo doing there?

We just exhibited Fragmental Storm at an art gallery called Long March which was in the Art District in Beijing (798大山?艺术区) from September 25th until October 22nd.

Now you're off to France, what will you be doing there?

We are going to have another exhibition and have a live performance of Exonemonster, a device we created, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on October 4th. For live information, you can check in-famous.

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Exonemonster (image courtesy of exonemo)

Can you tell us about Exonemonster?

Exonemonster is a musical instrument which has several other musical instruments fixed on a board with nails. All of the instruments have had their circuits bent. Its not just a musical instrument but also an object with naked circuits, nail and switches. With Exonemonster, we can play a variety of unpredictable sounds by wiring these circuits to each other and as a result, overdrive them in a somewhat complicated way on stage.

So, where did the idea come from and why did you make it?

I think it was probably after going to a lecture on Max/MSP (software) or Supercollider software. Max/MSP, can produce sounds by wiring digital objects. So after hearing about that, we decided we wanted to make a kind of free-play system that would be based on analog wiring; and we were twisted enough to decide to use analog while others were focusing on using laptops. So after that, we started working on an instrument with bent circuits. We used it as a Max developed object and fixed it on a board with nails and connected the instruments with clips to change the sounds.

We were trying to get closer to the idea of Outsider Art by approaching it in a subjective way, not an objective way and so, because the sound of exonemonster is uncontrollable, so too, we made its appearance 'uncontrollable.' Then it became a monster that we can't even control anymore. When we play or perform with exonemonster, it always surprises us. Now, we've come to develop a little bit of affection for it, as if it were a real friend.

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Exonemonster (image courtesy of exonemo)

How important is interactivity in your work ? I'm not only thinking of exonemonster but also rgb-f__cker or remixhibition=>reactivity. Are you trying to make some kind of tools for people?

0alamouse4.jpgI think interactivity is something like a ceremony that connects our work and the audience. When we approach a project, if interactivity is necessary, we implement it, and if it isn't necessary, we don't consider it in the project. For example, ZZZZZZZZapp has no interactivity once it starts. DanmatsuMouse is basically an exhibition you can see, but I think its better if the audience can feel the reality.

Some of your interactive software works are downloadable (Discoder). Whose work is it? Exonemo's or the user's?

The part that the user created with our work is the user's work and the program they use to edit the work is ours. But I think a whole new experience is made by mixing both sides, so I can't exactly tell who's work it is.

Most of your work explores the relationship between people and technology, why did you decide to explore and work in this direction?

I don't really think about it in terms of that direction very much, but I do think everyone gets really excited when technology and people meet. It's interesting- people seem normal at first but then turn into animals and totally change their behavior, it changes our behavior. Its like, if it weren't for mobile phones being so popular, if a man talked to himself walking down the street, it would seem like he's crazy but because he's cellphone's are a common technology its OK. I think such a point is interesting.

Well, do you think people today are disconnected from technology?

No, not at all, there's so much technology available and released on the web that you can get so much for free now.

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Road Movie

So, which is more important for you, reaching users individually with personal, interactive software or as a group with public installation or performance?

Well, for us, these two aspects make for completely different experiences so we try to do different things when we produce for the internet or for an installation. But at the same time, the line's been blurred and we have works that people can experience both ways, like the Road Movie. Both channels are important for us.

Yes. and about using the internet in your work (Fragmental Storm, Discoder-Discoder), what is the internet for you? Information? A canvas? A place?

I think its a place like a 'park.' Where people can come and go freely.

Where do you think the internet is going?

Well, its in the hands of the people so it's going wherever there are people's desires, it's unlimited!

And from here, where is exonemo going?

Well, we just finished DanmatsuMouse which we created this year and we have had many exhibitions and performances recently so want to try a different work flow and wait until the next idea comes to us. Next, we want to do something on the internet. We're thinking of something like a website to remix and play with our works ourselves. Its not really a work, per se, but something more like an environment.

Thanks for making time for us Exonemo, we look forward to seeing and playing with whatever you come up with next!

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Please meet Boutique Vizique! Boutique Vizique is Hendrik Leper and Stijn Schiffeleers, plus a bunch of other artists or experts they invite to collaborate with them once in a while.

Stijn and Hendrik come from Ghent. If you're into new media art, creativity and design you might have heard of that small-ish Belgian city. They trained as photographer, started working mostly with video, collaborated with sound artists and are now developing interactive installations. The kind we like: playful, witty and beautifully executed.

Portrait of Boutique Vizique by Koen Broos.

You both studied photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium. How did you end up working on interaction design, reactive installations, performances using real time live generated images and sounds?

Boutique Vizique was originally intended to be a short-term venture. A few years after we had left the Academy, we decided to collaborate on a small video project which was supposed to last for two weeks. But two weeks became three, and this summer we are celebrating our seventh year as a collective. It has been a gradual growth and looking back reveals an organic development of our practice. Originally doing mainly video work for musicians, DJ's, opera singers, actors and dancers, we slowly made the transition to a more three-dimensional approach. We both look back at those early experiments with a blush on our face, but nevertheless we were able to let things sprout out of these early, naive try-outs.

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A Dustbunny

So from the beginning, it has been like hopping from one stone to another, leaving a zigzag trail of encounters, realizations and reactions. One project lead into another and we tried to remain open to all of it. Boutique Vizique is rooted in curiosity and its exploring nature also reflects our previous wanderings. It is clear that we both like to wander and, as a result, quite often find ourselves "off-track". Last October at Matchmaking, an annual festival for electronic arts and new technology in Trondheim, we structured our lecture around the thought of 'being lost'. Supported by a quote from Rebecca Solnit's essay 'A Field Guide to Getting Lost' we discussed the role of the unknown and open doors in the line of our work. We like to believe that, as artists and human beings, every time we feel lost, it gives us an opportunity to stumble upon something new. Slowly, step by step, we have mastered different tools which are not necessarily related, but always find an integration under the Boutique Vizique umbrella.

You often develop your piece with the collaboration of other people. How does the creation start? You get an idea and look for someone who has the skills that you need? Or you meet someone you'd like to work with and decide on a project together?

Throughout the years we have collaborated in various ways on a wide range of distinct projects. Some of these collaborations were pure technical and some emerged because other artists shared similar interests. Boutique Vizique germinated from a project with two DJ's and this collaborative aspect became a natural ingredient in our practice in those first years. A handful of music bands with complete different styles asked us to provide video projections for their concerts and we also worked closely with AIM Records, a small Ghent based independent label that gave us a lot of freedom in our creations.

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Os Gauchos do pelatao

To a certain level we were fine with just delivering a visually interesting backdrop, but simultaneously felt the urge to look for a more direct cross-pollination. 'Super Setup', 'Starbot Ensemble', 'Early Electronics' and 'Os Gauchos do pelatão' are four projects that grew out of the desire to come to a true collaboration where sound and video got completely interwoven. Around that time we also started working closely with other forms of performing arts and theater. We had to learn about the dynamic relation between story, performer and video; and various new ways of interaction were applied to finally come to a complete integration of all components.

A turnaround occurred at the moment we took time to convey our personal ideas independently and looked for a format that would fit our personal needs. After 3 years working in collaboration with performers we began to develop interactive installations autonomously, without any specific assignment and far away from any stage or other limitations. Following collaborations mainly arose mostly out of technical needs or the lack of certain skills. We involved other artists and engineers to create specific sections like a sound file, a printed circuit board or a piece of code.

Since then, people have been coming and going and it makes sense we will continue to work this way in the near future. After seven years we often run on autopilot mode when dealing with each other during certain stages of the development process. Having completed so many projects we understand, through a minimum of communication, where the other one wants to go and it all feels very natural that way.

You worked several times on installations for kids. What are the challenges and advantages of developing projects that are aimed to be enjoyed by children?

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Babble

Our older video and performance oriented work had been embedded with a decent amount of playfulness long before we made our first reactive sculpture. It seems that having this playful facet deeply rooted in our work made it almost inevitable not to develop projects specifically for children at some point. We never had an outspoken intention to do so, but also did not doubt a second at the moment we were asked to make a real time video choir for a children's music festival. Later on, we evaluated the pros and contras and from a brief look at the body of work following Babble, you can tell we enjoyed it. Seeing all those young faces light up every time we present our work is highly rewarding and it is this kind of appreciation that keeps us going I guess.

Challenges related to child and adult specific projects are often very similar. In fact we consciously endeavor to create installations that are intended to be enjoyed by both young and old. It is obvious that part of our plan is to awake the child in each one of us. And since play, poetry and simplicity are a constant in our work those challenges seem to overlap quite often. Any major difference probably revolves around the threshold of your interfaces. With children as a target group you cannot afford to make extreme subtle changes in your output. Everything needs to be more straightforward and responses from sensors must immediately cause an impact on the environment. Simultaneously the interface needs to induce an intuitive interaction and encourage participation without any instructions. Kids luckily do not need much of an explanation and often copy others to come to an understanding of what is going on.

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When working with children, you also might consider building everything a little stronger. The first version of our Dustbunnies, for example, got smashed under the weight of some kid, exactly two days after the opening. Five months of work only needed a 10 year old foot to flatten and short circuit every component inside of it. Funny thing is that Dustbunnies was never intended for a young audience, because otherwise we would not have created a shape that does resemble a soccer ball to such extend. We learned a lot from that experience and it is actually wonderful to have these limitations push your creativity to another level. How do you make a large swinging object that won't chop off some kids head? Try it, it's a great exercise!

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Dustbunny "fried"

Finding a satisfying balance between the experience for the child and our personal creative impulses is probably the most intriguing challenge every time we come up with a new installation. How do you create a situation that expresses your vision and simultaneously intrigues the children? You can hang big spheres in a space and project warped faces around them, but what reference does a child have to the elements you use? In order to keep the experience for everyone as open as possible, we intentionally never create a narrative. The circumstances we set up always require a certain level of communication, verbally or not, and multiple senses get stimulated at once. Every installation needs to be explored creatively and can be approached both as an individual or within a group. By steering these conditions we aspire to find a right balance for every child or at least something enjoyable for each one to be found.

The main advantage of developing installations for children is that in general they have less social boundaries. They are allowed to play and seem to connect easier with someone they don't know. It is also beautiful to see them sink into in the environment we set up and make them forget about the world around them. The greatest advantage of course is that we ourselves are still allowed to be kids. We can play as much as we want this way!

'Kontakt' and 'Stopkontakt' invite the audience to use their body as a conductor between electrical circuits. How did you get the idea to work on that piece? How did the public react to it? Did you observe any unexpected behavior?

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Image by Lies Declerck

Kontakt was conceived during workshop, called Media Knitting, at DEAF 2003, the Dutch Electronic Art Festival in Rotterdam. This is where we met Karmen Franinovic, who at that point was getting her Master's degree at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy. The workshop was set up so people with different tool sets could possibly connect and collaborate. Karmen was working on a custom-made pressure sensor using conductive foam and we had just received our first Teleo module. We combined both components and a bit later we were all holding hands to test how conductive our bodies actually were. Kontakt was born and we constructed a prototype version in the stairwell within the three-story building of V2. Bright orange metal plates, with hands painted on them, encouraged visitors to use their bodies and form a human chain between them. Several of these active touch points where spread throughout the space and connecting caused a set of sound and video sequences to be played. The interface required people to collectively explore the space, as it was impossible for a single visitor to make connection between the various points. Holding hands, kissing and using differently conductive objects to modulate the output all became part of the interaction. The human skin and body, mobile and unpredictable, became the sensor and the actuator of this active space.

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A few months later we were commissioned to create an installation for the Happy New Ears Festival in Kortrijk, Belgium. The location was a formerly blocked off part of the directors house in an old textile factory. The space was submerged in a gloomy atmosphere as it had been collecting dust for more then a decade. The setting itself was too impressive to ignore and we had the Kontakt concept ready to unfold. Inspired by the space, we developed Stopkontakt, meaning wall outlet in Dutch, in a very site specific format.

Four rooms and the grand central stairway got wired up, filled with touch points, speaker and data cable. As an output we picked various analogue objects, like a kitschy pendulum clock, some plastic bird flutes, a water dripping valve, an old record player and more junk.

Although the system is very simple, it remains surprising to most visitors that you can start a coffee grinder with a handshake. Questions from parents about possibly getting shocked or failing pacemakers pop up regularly. While the grown-ups look and try to figure out how it all work, the kids do not seem to bother and just go wild holding hands, feet and knees with friends, family and complete strangers.

What are you trying to achieve with Tortuga? Do you plan to develop the project further?

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Tortuga is another good example of how Boutique Vizique functions as a learning place. The technical part of it originates from a class on PCB design and microchip programming I took last year. Its circuit board is drafted to contain an ultrasonic transceiver and a Zigbee module in order to measure the distance between two objects without any other external hardware involved. From this pure technical starting point it has grown out to a personal research project and Tortuga is actually an extended prototype for a larger installation that has been put on hold for various reasons. Its concept is formed around creating several large mobile structures and the ability to move these objects throughout a space, dependent on their acceleration and their physical location. It is one of those projects that could have stayed half finished in a closet for the rest of our life, but when curator Virgil Pollit asked us to be part of a group show called 'Fertile Grounds', we decided to continue and build some iceberg structures around the already functioning mechanical basis.

000acicbeorg.jpgWhen I fantasize about the full-scale version I see some undefined objects being moved around by a group of people in a free-flowing way. The motion is smooth and will only be interrupted if a sudden push occurs or in case the objects come within a minimal distance to each other or a wall. All visitors have to collaborate to generate a fluent movement and I am into the idea of using a loud sound or earplugs to prevent the audience from communicating verbally. I guess with Tortuga I am looking for new forms of interaction and ways to provoke pleasures similar to the one I get from moving rocks in a river. The 'useless' act of relocating random objects within a limited space, knowing they will move again once you have left, fascinates me. Still, while moving river rocks might result in a sculpture or a structure, Tortuga consciously tries to avoid any logic result or outcome. Although never choreographed, it will probably end up looking more like a dance than a sculpture at certain moments. The installation becomes an engine for a performance.

Showing the first version of Tortuga in a gallery environment has taught me a few lessons. Although the exhibition resulted in some fruitful conversations and animated interactions, it certainly was too early to present this work to a larger audience. As an artist you can not expect visitors to jump right into your fantasy world. They need a grip, something that guides them through your brain. Leaving them clueless just resulted in an uncomfortable situation and my hopes for now, Tortuga is buried in our closet again. Maybe its dream will be picked up again some day.

Can you explain us what Beat Blocks is about? And what makes it particularly exciting for you?

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Beat Blocks is the result of a series of encounters with Jeff Hoefs. After I moved to San Francisco, Jeff became one of the new people in my life with whom I like to share my thoughts and dreams about physical computing. One day we decided to challenge ourselves with the design of a tangible interface that could function as a sequencer and would cost less than 300 dollars. After some initial tinkering the idea of using wooden blocks on a grid popped up and the next meeting we spend brainstorming about all possible ways to read out the different values using a relatively cheap technology. Our thoughts grew out to a project and at this point we have a functioning prototype and are in the midst of developing a second and extended version. So the way this project originated, without any request or budget from the outside world, is already pretty exciting to me.

Most fascinating about the interface is its simplicity. A wooden grid and a series of blocks form an uncomplicated interface that is completely self-explanatory. As a user you can create and manipulate a small sound loop by physically re-arranging the wooden blocks within the grid. Doing so will turn the matrix into a rhythm sequencer that operates at a 1/16 note resolution. Each block has a pattern of colored stripes representing 1/4 measures, directly indicating what kind of sequence the underlying system will play. The sequence runs in a continuous loop and a LED indicates the speed of the loop that can be changed by means of a simple slider. The direct relation between these minimal visual aspects and the instantaneously generated sound makes 'Beat Blocks' very accessible to anyone, even with little or no musical background. Since the whole system generates a MIDI output, it can be hooked up to a lot of other hardware devices.

Another exciting feature is that its unsophisticated first design can be further developed in numerous directions. The layout of the PCB allows us to connect multiple grids simultaneously and the magnetic connectors could be build into any other shape. Its flexibility enables Beat Blocks to be used for very different purposes and various situations. It could be part of an interactive museum display and so far we have plans for constructing 'Beat Blocks' both as a performance tool and as an installation. The possibilities that our basic structure offers have also seem to inspire other people. A while ago, for example, we read on a blog a comment by a visually impaired person who was wondering if the striped pattern actually could be perceived by touch. A wonderful thought and the question actually motivated us to include this facet in our next version. It also got us both excited about creating a 'Beat Blocks' blog to share our ideas and be open to suggestions for potential variations.

You are both from Belgium right? How does the country or your region support your work? Do some of your pieces get financed? Do you receive many opportunities to teach and show your work?

Continue reading the interview with Boutique Vizique.

This month the second edition of urban interface, a research project exploring the interspaces between public and private, will be kicking off in Oslo.

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The exhibition will pervade the districts of Grünerløkka, Tøyen and Grønland from September 14th to October 7th. The conference, titled The Porous City: Art claiming the urban void, will be held on 14th and 15th of September at Fabrikken.

The first episode of the project took place in Spring in Berlin (report part 1 and 2). Urban Interface was initiated and directed by Susanne Jaschko and produced by Atelier Nord, a project base with the objective of supporting unstable art forms, such as electronic and new media art.

0aaltle.jpgWhich provides me with a great excuse to publish an interview with Atle Barcley, the director of Atelier Nord. Atle is also moderator of E-kunst mailing list and member of the board of Oslo Open. He was educated as an artist at Trondheim Academy of Fine Arts. He is former chairman of the board Production Network for Electronic Arts in Norway, net art editor at Kunstnett Norge, initiator of 110 mailing list and co-admin of Syndicate mailing list.

What is the story of Atelier Nord? When did it start and how has it evolved over time? How big is the structure?

Atelier Nord was established in 1965 as a workshop for metal print. In the '80s computers were introduced into the printmaking process. At the same time artists at Atelier Nord started to use the computers for animation work. It soon became evident that the printmakers, at least at Atelier Nord, were not into computer print. In the '90s the workshop developed into a center for electronic arts and eventually the printmaking equipment was abandoned.

From the '90s all resources were tied up in technical infrastructure and people. There were over 10 people employed at the most. In the '90s artists did not have their own computers and the know how. Our aim was to help artist to use computers in their artistic process. In the beginning of our century the situation had changed dramatically and there were no longer need for a center for electronic arts that provided computers and technical know how.

In 2002 we redefined ourselves as a projectbase for unstable arts. The projectbase is a skeleton organization that can be the platform for a wide range of projects of different nature and size. It's paramount of course that such and organization has some base funding for projects. When this change was initiated the staff was reduced to two people, a director and an office manager, most of the equipment was defined obsolete and we moved to a smaller and more efficient space. This way we managed to release most of our budget and time to projects.

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The strategy plan I wrote for Atelier Nord when I took over as director was called De-insitutionalising and aiming. I was using some energy to attack the center for electronic arts, which I think has proven to develop into just another rigid art institution more than once. I argued for a strategy that internalized the unstable nature of the arts in general and new technology in special.

"One can observe that centers for electronic arts are so tied up to special techniques and specialized conceptions of technology that they are becoming obsolete when new technology are introduced. To try to stay on top they ask for more money to invest in even more equipment when the problem is that the whole structure is in fact obsolete. We need networks and nodes, not centers."
Growing is for cowards. To let things go is courageous.

How does Atelier Nord manage to finance its projects?

We receive about € 270 000 from the state annually. After the change to projectbase we have resources within our own budget to do projects, but for larger productions like Generator.x, Interface and
Society
or Urban Interface we are depending on external funding in addition to this. The fact that we already have half of the budget covered when we start to apply for additional funding makes it easier to get more money - it seems like the funds are more likely to support projects that already have some money.

Most of our external project funding is also public - form Arts Council Norway, Public Arts Norway, etc. There are very few private funds in Norway, only one significant - the Freedom of Expression Foundation.

DSCN0744.jpgLet's say that i'm an artist working with unstable art forms, such as electronic and new media art. Which kind of support can i expect to find at Atelier Nord?

Your suggestion is as good is mine. What do you need? The idea about the projectbase is that we provide what is needed for each individual project. We do all types of consulting on project development; infrastructure like space for test installations and project groups, office space including phone expenses; technical equipment; we do accounting and provide other types of administration services for projects and some projects we co-found. It can be anything. One artist used industrial components in his installation. He had a complicated situation when he was trying to order those components because the producers had systems suitable for other bigger companies - not for individual artists. The solution we found was simply that he bought his stuff through Atelier Nord. Then the ordering was running smooth.

Have you noticed over the years an improvement of the conditions of and the reflection related to unstable art forms? Is there still much work to do before these art forms get the recognition they deserve? What do you think is their relationship with more traditional art forms in Norway?

Unstable art forms, as we define it, is arts that have a specially challenging production, that has a partially developed distribution system at best and that are not fully contextualized - the role of these art forms in the present and in a historical context are still debated.

So the nature of unstable art forms is that they are not fully recognized. Our job is to try to stimulate the production of new art forms, help distribution and bring this praxis into a broader historical and contemporary context.

New media art used to be an unstable art form, but is developing into a stable system. There are always some special challenges when producing works with new technical equipment. There is a distribution system within the media art scene, but the distribution of media art on the contemporary art scene could be better. Media art is well contextualized within the scene, but the full complexity of media art is not recognized withing the contemporary art scene.

Atelier Nord's strategy for new media art is to bridge the gap of understanding between the new media art scene and the contemporary art scene. Atelier Nord is not a media art institution however, we will stop working with new media art as soon as this art form is stabilized withing a broader context.

In the '90s the major part of our resources were used on video art. In the beginning of our century we changed our priorities dramatically, we are no finishing our engagement in video art by working politically to establish a national online video archive. (The potential of distribution of video is bigger than what a traditional museum and gallery structure can provide.)

These changes in priorities sometimes makes Atelier Nord unpopular with artists that works with stuff that we abandon, but this is the only way to go if we want to develop. The last ten years three other institutions outside of Oslo and the PNEK network was established. PNEK was initiated by Atelier Nord and the three other organizations all received our support. Contrary to most other organizations Atelier Nord is not into unlimited growth. We would rather like to see more players on the scene.

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Part of Urban Interface Oslo: Michelle Teran's new work Friluftskino

A few years ago, Atelier Nord organized Reality Check, a series of events presenting art projects gone completely wrong. Why was it important to discuss projects that failed? What were the highlights of the events?

Per Platou that directed the Reality Check was fed up by art discourse being pretentious. He also observed that a lot of those projects that received support from the Arts Councils "Art and new technology" funding was nowhere to be seen on the scene. The question was "What happened?" He realized some of them failed - badly. Of course it's the failed projects that we can really learn form, but it's always the successes that are brought forward.

At the Reality Checks the responsible persons (usually the artists) were invited up on stage to lighten their heart, admit failure and help us to learn from their mistakes. There was only one rule: they could not blame anyone else. It was really funny and sometimes heart breaking. The group form one project that failed so badly it is almost unbelievable that they gathered on the Reality Check stage - the tension between them was lethal.

The project was a huge success, the bar it was held in was packed every night. The prime serious TV show on art wanted to air it and when Per Platou politely explained to them that sending it on TV was not compatible with the basic concept they were really insisting. And that is when we stopped doing it. We had the time and the money to continue, we had an audience, we had a huge number of people now wanting to be a failure. It became a success, which was not compatible with the basic concept of Reality Check.

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You invited people to the Maxwell city workshops, an artistic investigation into the electromagnetic urban environment. How did the workshops go? What happened there exactly?

Well, we discussed strategies and techniques for using electromagnetism in art. We had Armin Medosch as a guest lecturer adding a context for this in addition to Erich Berger and Martin Howse who directed the workshop.

The most fun part I think was the actual investigation in urban space. We had a range of electromagnetic sniffers, some commercial products some of Martin Howse design. These sniffers transformed electromagnetism into sound. We were basically listening to the city. We also bought a megaphone, connected that to a sniffer and had a live show going. This workshop happened simultaneously with a city wide music festival in Oslo - I don't feel our contribution was fully recognized.

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How active is the electronic and new media art in Norway? Can you tell us about organizations and artists who make it happen?

The new media art scene in Norway are well organized. We have 4 other sister organizations that collaborates through Production network for electronic arts (PNEK). BEK in Bergen, at the west coast of Norway, was established by a composer and a new media artist and are well known for the Piksel festival. TEKS in Trondheim, mid-Norway, are working with art and new technology from a fine arts perspective and are doing the annual Trondheim Matchmaking festival. IoLab in Stavanger, at the southwest coast started a biannual on unstable arts in public space last year. (And no, not all institutions in Norway are into the term "unstable arts". I did some serious development work on that biannual.) Notam in Oslo is in a an contemporary and electronic music tradition.

Of course there's a lot of artists who use new media in their production, very few however are into critique of technology. This is one of the reasons that Atelier Nord do what we do these days and I think it is also the background for the Pixel festival at BEK. Stahl Stenslie, that is now withdrawn for his own art practice while being Dean at the Art Academy in Oslo, is probably the new media artist most people abroad would recognize. HC Gilje, that was part of 242.pilots is participating in our Urban Interface show this year. I would also recommend you to take a closer look at Motherboard and Thomas Kvam.

Any upcoming project at Atelier Nord that you could already share with us?

This autumn we are producing a project initiated by Susanne Jaschko.
Urban Interface looks at the changes in the private and the public. It started in Berlin in April and will be an exhibition in public space and a conference in Oslo opening on September 13th. Michelle Teran, HC Gilje, Vibeke Jensen, Jørgen Larsson and Bjørnar Habbestad, Laura Beloff and Sancho Silva and John Hawke are exhibiting. Lev Manovich, Florian Rötzer, Drew Hemment and Martin Rieser are among the speakers. Visitors will get the opportunity to see Oslo in a special perspective.

Thanks Atle!

Images courtesy of Atle Barcley.

ajessicafin.jpgAugust is ending and everyone is coming back from the beach. Including the interviews!

Jessica Findley lives in Brooklyn where she works as a "freelance designer, illustrator and animator." That brief description hardly encompasses all Jessica's many activities and talents: she makes animated movies, crafts reversable dolls, she draws, she is also a web designer but what brought my attention to her work are the performances and interactive installations she developed and shows around the world., crafts reversable dolls, she draws, she is also a web designer but what brought my attention to her work are the performances and interactive installations she developed and shows around the world.

Oh! And just for the info, Jessica received her BA at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA with her studies focusing on Film, Video and Animation. She then completed her MA in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU.

On your website there is a section called "Work" and another is "art". what's your art for if it is not work? is it just a question of what pays the rent? Are you happy with that equilibrium or would you rather focus only on the art?

This is always a difficult challenge. In a dream world it would be great to focus on the art all the time, but a girl needs to eat. It is also nice not to have to think of the monetary value of my art when I make it. I would love to have less work and do more art. Or at least more interesting work and do more art. I have been very happy doing illustrations and work for museums and educational programs. It would be great to take a break to just focus on the art for a while, then go work, then do art. For now both art and work seem to need to be constantly in process.

Can you explain us the project "millefiore effect"? And in particular the Front inflatable garments? How do they work?

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The Millefiore Effect was the name that Margot Jacobs, Ralph Borland and myself gave our team when we made "Front". Millefiori means 1000 flowers in italian, it is also a technique used in crafting many colors of glass or clay together to create patterns. We liked this symbolism for the collective efforts of our group. Margot came from an industrial design education, Ralph from sculpture, and I from film video and animation and had experience sewing my own clothes.

The project "Front" consists of 2 symbiotic, voice-activated, inflatable conflict suits. Front is a sort of an endless game of vocal battle between two people who wear suits equipped with fans which inflate when they yell. Each suit has two types of inflation sacks - aggressive and defensive - which inflate depending on who is making sound. The suits are to be worn by the public.

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How do people behave when they wear it? Does it trigger any particular/unexpected behaviour?

It's interesting, some people are quite shy and then others get really into it and get really silly or serious about it. It can have a explosive emotional release or instill stage fright. We have had people sing opera, burst into contagious laughter, bark like dogs, talk like knights in armor, and make up comedy routines. Some places we go people are too shy to even put them on, and usually Margot and I will just get in and go for it, after that we end up with at least a couple people who sign up to get ridiculous.

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Aeolian Ride in Melbourne, photo by Clayton Harper

What was the impetus for your project Aeolian Ride?

I wanted to do something that would transform the everyday public landscape and make people giddy or baffled.

One day I was riding my bike in Brooklyn with white nylon jacket on that was unzipped. I felt it fluttering behind me and thought that it would be great to make costumes for a big bike ride. I forgot about it until one day my friend Ryan O'connor was trying to think of ideas for an art project at burning man. I told him my idea and he thought it was great but he ended up making a giant octopus instead. A year later he called me. He said he had been thinking about my project and I needed to do it. This was not too long after 9/11 and my life seemed to lack any luster. A switch flipped in my brain and I suddenly was up to my elbows in rip-stop nylon designing inflatable costumes. 0aaeloinaridessss.jpg

You brought the project to different cities, was the experience extremely different from one place to the other? Any plan of organizing another Aeolian Ride any time soon? I'd love it if you could bring that to Europe.

I find that riding a bike in a city is such a wonderful way to get to know its landscape. The people are what make the place for me. Its interesting who comes to the ride. It often depends on the connection who brought me to the city. It's usually a combination of different cycling cultures, every day cyclists, commuters, advocates, artists, messengers... anyone with a bike is welcome! I am always looking for people willing to organize and find funding to bring the ride to their city. I call these people champions. Each ride has had great champions who made it happen.

The responses vary from city to city. New York was the first ride, it was rainy so I wasn't sure if it was going to happen and I didn't have a permit so I was nervous when the cops showed up. Funny my dad was there and he is such a charmer he gave the cops a couple of Aeolian buttons and told them about how excited he was for his daughters art project and they left.

San Francisco happened in conjunction with the Bicycle Film Festival and was sponsored by a grant from the Black Rock Arts Organization. The people there had seen it all and loved it. They shouted out Angels! Sperm!

Capetown was gorgeous. My good friend Ralph Borland was the Champion of this ride. The Discovery Chanel was doing a program on local artists and tried to show a collaboration between myself and artist Matthew Hindley. They purchased a couple suits for Matthew to work with. Unfortunately the Discovery Channel dropped the ball and gave me no images or video for that event.

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Aeolian Ride in Cape Town, photo by Sean Wilson

I worked with Bike Summer's Dave Benoff to bring the Aeolian Ride to LA. The riders out there were used to lots of fun. Before the ride I joined the Midnight Ridaz for a fun ride in Heavy Metal Costume to a bowling alley where they had Metal Karaoke and giant paper mache musical instruments.

LA was our first night ride with lights in the suits and we had a magical moment where mostly just the riders got to see the effect of the lights. During our ride through the bright city most of us didn't notice or remember we were wearing lights inside the suits. When we arrived at the dark park all the riders softly gasped and oohed at the forgotten surprise that they were glowing.

My connection in Melbourne, Chris Star, is very deep into the politics of cycling and its community. We had a bit of competition in that the naked ride was happening at a similar time. The city and its people are super charming and laid back.

Halifax was wonderful, my connection, a great photographer Francesca Tallone is embedded into the arts there. It was great fun and there was tons of enthusiasm for the ride. The Aeolian Poster was on the cover of their local weekly happenings paper all around town! The waterfront there is magical.

The next Aeolian Ride will be Saturday September 8th 2007 from Brooklyn New York to the Dietch Art Parade in SOHO. Sign up already available!

I would love to bring the ride to Europe. Who wants to be the champion?

Grow is a serenade for plants. Are you sure that the plants appreciate all that musical effort? How did you compose the music? Does it depend on the plant?

Haha. I am not sure if the plants really react to the sounds or not. It seems at least one vintner believes it.I did read that it is a common grade school experiment to play music for plants.

I found it difficult to write love songs for the plants. Half of them are for the plants and half are actually love songs for my friends. I wrote and recorded each song myself in an abandoned studio in a building I used to live in.

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Design, animation, illustration, interactive installation, etc. You seem to jump effortlessly and with talent from one medium to the other, is there anything you are bad at?

My strength is definitely my weakness. I love learning new skills and working in different mediums, but sometimes this can be fragmenting. I really envy people who know exactly what they want and have a path to get there. I chose this path, to explore, and it can be really challenging not to lose sight of what I really want. I try to follow my heart, eat my dessert first.

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And more seriously, what do you find rewarding about each of these mediums?

I am most interested in the idea first, then the materials and medium second but they definitely inform each other. Every medium provides me with a way to explore my ideas in different ways.

Are there any designer and/or artist whom you think should get more attention from the public?

Two of my favorite artists are Gelatin and Theo Jensen. I love the possible positive and the ingenious imaginative.

Any upcoming project you could share with us?

I am working on a graphic novel about the adventures of a girl who gets transported to the twin planet of earth.

Thanks Jessica!

More on her websites: Work + Art, Illustrations and Inspirational Blogging.

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