Last month I travelled to Minneapolis to attend the first INST-INT, a gathering focused on sharing insights + experiences from the field of interactive installation. Weeks have passed and I’m still reeling from the great conversation, huge inspiration, & brilliant minds I connected with.
The conference organizers are beginning to roll out some quality speaker videos so I won’t recap all the talks. Every speaker was fantastic in their own way, so I’ve decided to focus on a few distinct themes from the conference that impacted me most.
I’ll be sharing these reflective posts as a three part series over the next few days.
Part 1: Break/Embrace Medium Limitations
Part 2: Blending Reality
Part 3: Magic vs. Seams
I’m incredibly excited to be in Minneapolis this weekend attending INST-INT, “a gathering focused on sharing insights + experiences from the field of interactive installation.”
Not sure how I could better describe a conference I’d want to go to.
The conference is limited to 250 attendees, with single-track presentations given by Kimchi and Chips, Disney Research, Random International, Universal Everything… it’s essentially a room full of amazingly talented individuals who inspired me to do what I’m doing today.
In a time of great evolution for the studio, it was inspiring to work so closely with Michael Jager and very talented design director Allison Ross to compliment such well thought-out content with simple, engaging visuals.
Jager’s themes throughout the event were about the future of the design world and the necessary transition from a closed gestalt (one large multi-discipline studio) to an open gestalt of creative collaboration across a network of talented groups of individuals.
If you’ve read my xoxo reflection post, you’ll know that this theme of independent togetherness has been a recurring theme I’ve felt, which is in part why I was so motivated to work on this project.
That, and to create a memorable, impactful, Design Week Portland experience.
Photos by Issac Marchionna.
Imagine walking into a room and creating a virtual forest in the air. Earlier this month, Vermont-based artist Craig Winslow debuted Growth at SEABA’s South End Art Hop. The original 3D-projection mapping experience put control into the fingertips of onlookers, and garnered great feedback from participants. By using Leap Motion Controllers, Winslow gave people the power to move their hands in the air and manipulate digital vines, branches, and beams of light cropping up against a stark blue sky.
Growth is a project created to illustrate the daily personal impact we have upon our environment. Winslow says he used Leap Motion’s technology to bridge organic human input into the digital world.
“Embracing the natural way we would expect people to interact with the device, we made slow soothing movements augment lighting, while aggressive swipes brought in black recursive animations,” Winslow says. “Leap Motion amplified the story we were trying to tell, as the viewer’s human interaction contributed to impact dynamically on the installation.”
Light and color are the core mechanics at play in the piece. Winslow and his collaborators programmed color variance to be reactive to palm positioning – transforming the Leap Motion Controller into a powerful tool for color depth exploration. Dipping into blues and reds, “it was fascinating to disrupt the world until you reach a dystopian darkness, until your hand becomes the only light within a strong silhouette.”
Winslow also programmed the installation with discoverable gestures to encourage his audience to use their imaginations.
“The most powerful moment for me was seeing a mother and her two boys interact with complete awe. Once they knew they were in control of the experience, they waved their hands, wiggled their fingers – but in a very respectful way. It reminded me of a quote by Robert Irwin I was told near the beginning of the project, which influenced our intent more than I knew:
“‘You can’t plan nature; you court her.’”
The design concept behind Growth is one that Winslow and his collaborators would like to iterate and expand upon in the near future. They believe the Leap Motion interface carries huge potential for enabling human interaction to dance the line between the physical and the digital realms – to illuminate a world and modify its perceived reality.
You can learn more about Craig at craigwinslow.com.
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Thanks Leap Motion for this great feature post!
I must also extend huge gratitude to Growth’s talented collaborators mentioned:
Alana Aviel (Concept Artist/Designer)
Coberlin Brownell (Creative Technologist)
Justin Kuzma (Interaction Developer)
The number of attendees for XOXO was limited, curated by a simple application process to ensure everyone attending were makers-of-things themselves. This created an intimate, positive vibe, which allowed for better conversation and connections made, because you knew everyone there was passionate about making something, and as it turns out, have felt similar challenges.
It was fantastic, and painfully eye-opening.
Being an independent creator was the common thread that tied everyone together, and with it came stories of shared struggles.
While my brain struggled to figure out what I was feeling, I read this fantastic XOXO recap by Frank Chimero titled ‘The Inferno of Independence.’ At one point, he quotes Hugh MacLeod: “The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness.”
Frank calls bullshit, because while there are lone wolves, there are also wolf packs. This idea helped me contextualize the loneliness of independence and realize the strength behind not trying to do it all alone. (Plus, I love the awesome individuals I consider part of my wolf pack.)
“Eat the donuts" was another phrase that rippled through XOXO from a talk by Maciej Ceglowski of Pinboard. Accept help from others and offer help when you can. I so desperately and impatiently want to be comfortably independent, but it takes hard work and time. There is no shame in accepting help. Beyond that, it’s far more empowering to be part of a supporting pack in independent togetherness.
"If you’re living your dream, you need all the help you can get. Dreams are hard, and much too much work for just one person alone."
XOXO opened my eyes wide. Now I push forward, looking at what my next steps are in this independent, freelance life, and what I truly want to accomplish.
Contribute to a living environment & realize the power of your gestures.
This 3D projection mapping experience places the viewer within a world they interact with & modify. The journey suggests a cause & effect to represent the impact we can make on the world around us.
Contribute to a living environment & realize the power of your gestures. You are the interaction.
The Growth experience places the viewer within a world they interact with and modify. The journey suggests a cause and effect to represent the impact we can make on the world around us.
The above image documents a particularly impactful moment for me.
Seeing a child in complete awe of their own interactions, was enough to make all of the hard work, struggle, and stress over the past few months from taking this new career leap completely worth it.
Growth will be up the rest of this weekend in Burlington, VT for Art Hop!
Come by and experience it for yourself! Or, check out the video!
The structure went up quicker and better than we imagined!
Measure thrice cut once proved to be very useful.
To optimize construction, I devised a guide to assemble each ‘island’ to the next. These ‘islands’ are groups of 4-6 triangles, so we only 10 large sections to put up, instead of an overwhelming 42 similar-looking pieces.
This is a technique was inspired by experience with unwrapping UVs for texturing models in video games.
It’s all coming together quickly! Tomorrow’s the night!
Here’s our location for Art Hop! We’ve made great progress over the past few days. With exactly one week remaining, there’s loads left to do, and I’m determined to document the process. Expect a steady stream of updates this week between this blog and the facebook page.
After finally discovering light painting today, I decided to mess around and imply the sculpture form within the space. Sure, I can just photoshop the 3D model into the space, but that’s much less fun.
Justin killed it today with numbers, math, and code within Processing. Tomorrow we should have the foreground sculpture’s base functionality going strong, allowing us to hopefully add extra blue sky features.
It kinda feels like when you crunch to finish a college project, just before getting a surprise extra week to work on it. Very rare. Very awesome.
This little 1/5 scale model model sits behind its full scale pieces, all cut and ready for assembly. There are 42 total pieces in the sculpture. Intentional number? You know me.
Head over to the official page for the Growth project if you’re interested in reading a more thorough project overview!
We’re also looking for sponsors of all shapes and sizes! Please let me know if someone you know is interested and able in helping to fund the project!