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07 Aug 2019

Interview: In Conversation with Alida Sun


Alida Sun is an interdisciplinary artist and post-industrial designer based in Berlin and New York. We got to chat with her about her mathematic and mythological inspirations, coming up with color palettes, and  her work in projection mapping.

From mathematics to mythology, how did your inspirations come about? Have they changed over time?   


They came from sustained rootlessness mixed with relentless curiosity and concern. I reckon they’ve morphed into something stranger and more intense as the end of the Anthropocene draws closer and closer — nothing like an increasingly urgent need to imagine ways out of the imaginable to fire up one’s creative visions, at least as far as I’m concerned!

You have created over a hundred pieces of coded art. How has your style evolved, and what programs or techniques do you think have best helped to elevate your style? 

When it comes to coding I’m a complete autodidact. I often suspect I’m going about it all wrong, and truth be told I’m totally at peace with that. It’s the unexpected errors and happy accidents that keep the process exciting and rewarding for me.
Regarding style, I feel like I’m all over the place, though a friend & fellow creative coder once said they loved how “big” my generative visuals felt in conveying a sense of space you could get lost in. That stuck with me.
I’m driven more by process than aesthetic, and my process is driven by worlding, which has never been specific to any particular program. My algorithmic art and immersive installations owe just as much to skills & sensibilities honed from working in more traditional media —drawing, painting, animation, textiles, sculpture— as they do to prowess with new media and emerging technologies.
That being said, when I started out I didn’t have much in the way of resources, so I relied on the tools most readily available. Special shoutout to OpenFrameworks and Processing for being 100% free and open source!

Light vs Dark seems to be a big theme in your color palette, why is that? 

Sheer necessity. Stark contrasts yield highest visibility, which is crucial when creating real time interactive installations that involve many different moving materials, processes, and people.
Being in Berlin for more than a season probably has something to do with it as well, heh. Add to this aforementioned Ex Anthropocene intensity, on top of ongoing obsession with outer space…

You’ve done some amazing work in projection mapping. What was it like getting started in that?

Much appreciated! Projection mapping was for me a profound revelation about the natural world as much as technological wizardry. It gave me deep insights into how light itself is invisible and how what we think we see is something else entirely. Given this, light projection & mapping became ideal mediums for me to conjure the intangible, quasi-mythological algorithmic constructs that shape our digital worlds and collective cultural experience.

Is there a particular artist who inspires you, or whose work you’re excited about?

Julie Mehretu, Koji Morimoto, and Toyin Ojih Odutola are formative influences.
As far as new media & newer influences go, to name just a few-
Geography of Robots @geographyofrobots
Josh Burke @magic.mountain
Datasynced @datasynced
JP Yepez @jpyepez