Featured work by creative coder Kat Zhang: Full Video With Sound
After years of programming both at and after work, I had a burnout and just wanted to work with my bare hands again. That led me to pick up drawing. But very soon I couldn’t resist the urge to draw with code. A friend pointed me to Daniel Shiffman’s the Nature of Code, which opened a door for me to the world of creative coding. Combining hand-drawn images and animation to coded works seems very natural to me. I feel both the computer and the nature work like a blackbox in a way. Proof? Open a shader on shadertoy and see the ridiculously realistic simulations of oceans, fog, clouds, planets just from a few lines of code. It makes me think that we must have created something that has stolen the nature’s secrets to have fooled the human eye. Inviting the machine (which is a like micro god that is capable of performing miracles) to work with me is thus very empowering .
I find my ideas evolving constantly, from the moment formed in my head, to being jotted down, to being implemented. They never stay the same. I guess that’s why I love the process so much, because it has this element of surprise, whether from myself or the machine, always feels like I am a little child perpetually playing on this massive, beautiful playground with infinite possibilities.The things I prioritize is probably my familiarity with my tools. I would spend a lot of time to improve my craft so I wouldn’t be too slowed down when I am actually “playing” in that process, although that always happens anyway.
Yes! There are so many softwares/tools that I want to learn! A few at the top of my list: Quill, an illustration and animation tool for Oculus Rift; Blender, the open-sourced 3D modeling pipeline; Keras, a neural network API that I’m learning now and hopefully will work on some style transfer projects! Most of the time now, I work with Touchdesigner. It plays well with many types of input (shaders, Kinect, even VR!) while still allowing you to go as low-level as you want by just coding in Python.
I love Ian Cheng‘s works. I think he adds another dimension to the usual simulations (think Conway’s Game of Life, flocking/swarming behaviors, .etc) we see in creative coding, one that is critical to our experience of real life: storytelling. Agents in the simulations are concrete, even life-like. Thus it is hard not to blur the boundaries of our real-life experience with the simulations (or maybe there is none to start with?)
We chatted with multidisciplinary artist Rory Scott and talked to Rory about her experience with animation, c4d and the concept of impermanence through technology.
I’ve streamlined my process by being ok with chaos—to never stop moving and to always be in the mode of making art. But the stipulation is that everything I do must relate back to advancing my ongoing 10 year project.
Funny enough, I often use my Instagram stories as an informal way to address/observe impermanence. For example, I love taking time-lapse movies of life just going by and seeing the patterns that emerge with time being slightly sped up.
Digital mediums have both a level of impermanence and permanence to them. Once you release something, you have to be prepared for it to be out there forever. On the flip-side I feel like the shelf life for digital work can be volatile—its longevity may depend on the survival of the technologies that made it possible to exist in the first place.
Thanks so much! My favorite program is After Effects because of its versatility. I am able to animate, work in VR and pull in elements from Cinema 4D. Which gives me a lot to work with.
Tara Donovan. Her work is beyond and embodies every element that I love and appreciate about art.
Featured artwork by Temi Coker
We chatted with Dallas-based photographer and graphic designer Temi Coker about the advantages of being a multidisciplinary artist, the top tools to work with and how he gives his work a creative edge:
I run COKER STUDIO with my wife, Afritina Coker based in Dallas, Texas.. Coker Studio is a multidisciplinary creative house specializing in photography, design and art direction. I’m a teacher at heart and love showing the creative community how I work and how they can find their voice through the work they do. I also run a shop filled with posters I make for my “A POSTER A DAY” series.
I’m very observant and back in college I’d see Ads and was always curious how they were made. I remember seeing an Ad where the text was behind the subject and I was so intrigued by that as well as their play with colors and placement. I felt if I had graphic design in my arsenal it’d help me have a better chance of getting work or negotiating salary when talking with companies. I wanted to be the person that’d tell the employer “I can do photography and design. I’m a multidisciplinary creative. You should hire me.”
I’m a big fan of Photoshop and Illustrator. I don’t go a day without opening or using either software. Adobe products have played a huge part in my growth as a creative. They give us the tools and it’s up to us to learn how to use it in conventional and unconventional ways to creative unique work.
I’m inspired by Magdiel Lopez, Joshua Kissi, Ray Neutron, Slimsunday, PosterLad, Rob Bailey, Pavlov visuals, and many others.
Featured image via @neonmoonlights
Sisters Rachel and Vanessa Goldgrub share a talent for curating eye-popping neon art on Instagram. They turned their passion into a business, now selling sustainable LED lights on their website neonmoonlights.com. We got to chat with them about their curation process, how their work has expanded and advice they have for other entrepreneurs in the arts:
R: Hello, my name is Rachel and with my twin sister, Vanessa, we own and created neon moon lights. Our company brings a warm colourful aesthetic to people homes through LED lights.
V: We started as curators on our Instagram page, @neonmoonlights, posting images of all things lights from neon signs, light installations, and personal photography. We have grown from creating an Instagram community and to starting and running a business as we saw a demand for affordable light art in the home.
V: It’s more of a creative process rather than looking for certain aspects of an image. We plan our feed about a week or two in advance. We collect images that pertain to the colour that we are currently showing on our feed and images that have the next colour we want to showcase, we also look for images that combined those two colours. From there, we organize the images to create an organic transition through the colour spectrum.
R: The biggest time commitment is trying to find original sources, as images on the internet get shared endlessly, that information will sometimes get lost but we use Google’s Image Reverse Search tool.
V: The process has gotten easier and my eye for understanding how the colours will blend together with the current feed. Additionally, we have built a following and our community is extremely helpful in sending and tagging us in photos.
R: They have gotten quite good at guessing what colour will be next! So this helps a lot!
R: Starting our own business has been extremely tough but so rewarding! We have learned so much in the past year by trial and error. We see every hiccup as a learning opportunity and the process has gotten smoother. The best advice we have to give is just to do it. There’s never a great time, the business plan doesn’t feel complete but you just have to take the plunge and start! Also, don’t expect to see your initial investment come back right away. Companies need time to grow, and it will with hard work and dedication.
V: Dan Flavin and James Turrell are our all-time favourite. They are the godfathers of light installations. Every time we see an image of theirs we just become so transfixed, their work really takes you into a different realm.
Featured image by Omer Qayyum
Omer Qayyum is a video editor and motion designer. We chatted with Omer about working in different creative feels and evolving his artistic style. Read more:
I wanted to put myself in a place where I wasn’t restricted to video, animation, design or even illustration. For the past couple of years, Ive been given roles to edit videos and create animations at the same so it really gave me more freedom. However, that was also the challenge because of many reasons. For instance, there may be a scene where the person that we are interviewing for a documentary is talking about statistics. I had to start asking myself certain questions. Does this scene need video b roll? Should we show the person that we are interviewing on screen? Would the statistics be easier to comprehend for the viewer through an animated graph? Taking the first 2 routes would be easier since the footage has already been shot. If you need to take the last approach, you’ll probably be adding some extra time to your production schedule. The challenge was doing it all on my own, but as of now, the payoff has had so many rewards.
Thank you so much for the kind words! My most recent animations went through lots of trial and error. I started experimenting with different programs, colors, styles, etc. My goal was to have a minimalistic feel. As you said, something with a simple and sophisticated aesthetic. I started to study the animated loops that have really taken over the internet. Simple and smooth motions that almost feel therapeutic. I also started studying different abstract designs in logos, paintings, and illustrations. After some time, taking what I had learned and turning it into something that would fit my style became the hardest part. The change began when I shifted to a black and white look. This was the missing piece of the puzzle. I played with different black and white textures on simple shapes. Those turned into movements that began to loop continuously and that’s when I began to gain a nice flow in my style. Recently, I have been taking a different approach and turning away from loops. My animations have had more drastic and dynamic cuts lately. I’ll also add the word trippy. I still love the loop style that has taken over social media, it’s just something I’ve grown out of. In the next couple of months, my plan is to introduce more designs and hand drawn animations. It’ll be a tough shift to get back into illustrating again but this is a step I’m mostly excited to take.
After Effects is a program that I highly recommend. It’s capabilities are endless and it’s one that I rely on for many different things.
ASH THORP! He’s a brilliant artist that I encourage everyone to look up.
Featured Image: Chromo Sapiens by Shoplifter / Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir for the Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019. Image by Elisabet Davidsdottir.
Shoplifter/Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, is a New York-based Icelandic contemporary artist. She is known for creating immersive sculptures out of natural and synthetic hair, touching on themes of superficiality in modern culture.
Shira Shvadron is a multi-disciplanry artist, who has recently worked on her project, “Movement in Capture” that expresses the environmental damage of waste in the ocean, using movement as a key tool to create empathy. Learn more about Shira and her project below:
My name is Shira Shvadron. I have just completed my BA in Visual Communication at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. During my degree, I specialized in Interaction design, Game Design, Video, Animation, Image making, and Sound.
“Movement in Capture” is a project about the impact of pollution of the oceans on their living creatures. It presents the experience of marine creatures in the polluted oceans as I imagine it, alongside a personal statement. This project deals with the question of how do they move in an environment that is no longer natural, in which they are helpless and restricted in their movement.
At first, I recorded dancers using Motion Capture technology by Noitom. The dancers tried to identify with marine creatures through movement. Then, I implemented the recorded movement onto the 3D models I created, with the guiding question of “what can human movement evoke on top of unhuman forms?”
This project is based on two seminar works and further research I wrote under the theme of movement. The first seminar explored how dance and movement can inspire music and how dance can enhance the experience of music. The second seminar was reviewing how mankind tried to document and capture movement throughout history. Starting from cave paintings, Renaissance, 19th-20th-century dance notations and Muybridge photographs until this present day. I also reviewed the Motion Capture suit, which was used for this project.
At nights I’m DJing under the name Shiwa Biwa. Where I feel my background in dance and music plays a big part.
My interest in dance, design, art and also music began at a very early age and hasn’t stopped since. I believe these practices made my visual work to always aspire to be dynamic and in movement. In my mind I tend to think about my works as immersive, so that’s why throughout the years I drifted into making 3D environments.
I see the “Movement in Capture” project as an integration of the creative outlets that I’ve been developing throughout my life. For me, making this project was sort of seeing these old illustrations I made in high school coming to life together with my younger self, dancing.
Practicing these disciplines from a young age was a starting point for me in every project I made. These very creative and expressive disciplines feel to me as if they’re not even separated.
The prioritization of one over the other happens in order to fit the needs of the concept to the project itself. I find great inspiration in these disciplines, that eventually can lead to unexpected connections and new insights.
In this project “Movement in Capture” there’s an invitation to put movement in the front of the experience. An idea inspired by a recent study of the Neuroscience Institute of Trinity College in Dublin that found said that it is actually the movement of a human figure character that triggers feelings. Hence the movement itself is the element that creates a sense of empathy and connection more than the realistic graphic representation of humans.
The movement itself is so powerful that we don’t consider the technology as the main show, we understand the role of the motion capture technology as a tool for our bodies. It is a means for transferring a massage while using our physiques.
What was interesting in the process as well, was the playfulness the dancers found while using the suit. The dancers that I was recording at times would look at their avatar figure in the software dancing, functioning as a mirror. In that search of movement, it was really funny and intriguing to see that this avatar that copies their movement was encouraging them to explore the range of the Noitom suit even more, and to jump or crawl and see if and in what way the avatar is copying them.
Following the suit experience and also really enlightening discussions I had with the choreographs Ohad Fishof and Avshalom Pollak in the process of the project, I gathered that technology can be successful only when we understand how we, as active participants use it, and not let it abuse us. Technologies should be designed for us to make us move, and fit our natural needs.
Yes, I will start by answering the second question and will finish by answering the first question. Technology is a general word and it depends on which aspect of technology you’re referring to.
If we’re looking into how technology has been intertwined into our lives through our mobile phones, yes it has made us addicts, our posture changed, the way we carry ourselves in the world has changed. We are crouched, crossing streets without even looking up and sideways. But on the other hand, we can talk about the virality of movement and dance through social media and especially through video platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
We can take for example the gesture “DAB”, according to Wikipedia, “Dab”/”Dabbing” is a gesture of triumph or playfulness. It is a gesture that started in the hip-hop scene in Atlanta (Some credit it to the anime in Japan) and became internationally viral. Coming out of the hip-hop music videos to the sports world and after that to the rest of the world of everyday people sharing their videos. Thanks to the cameras on our mobile phones and social media platforms it has become one of the viral moves of this decade.
Another interesting use of dance was in the gaming industry, a move I would consider very smart by the creators of the game “Fortnite”. Besides the fact that it became a phenomenon in the game industry as a game, the company utilized the power of movement and dance into another aspect of engaging with the game. Its characters dance contemporary movements which became like a dance challenge across the world to a wide range of ages from kids to adults. It became a dance challenge of learning the moves and dancing them side by side to the graphic characters.
The use of dance and movement is not new, but only the music industry was the one to fully use it and “Capitalize it”. You can even ask whether the kings of pop, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, would have become this big without their movements? This question allows us to understand how impactful is dance and movement.
Regarding the question of how our movements will change over time. I think of it as an opportunity to explore how movement can develop into a medium of communication, like Graphic Design or Journalism. Only now we are able to ask this question because of the possibilities viral videos and technologies like Motion Capture can offer.
Movement is a very powerful tool. We can see it crosses continents and can still hold its original meaning, its origins and what’s even more special about it, is that everybody can do it.
Yes, in this field of “Motion Capture” I’ve been following Andrew Thomas Huang since he’s work “Solipsist”. I find him relevant for my process as he incorporates in his works movement, texture, colors and impactful image-making. With a background in visual effects, puppetry and animation he creates mythic worlds and his visual aesthetic are quite unique and very inspiring.
Vincent Houze works like ״Transitions״ that premiered at your venue, encourages movement and participation in a way that is intuitive without the intimidating presence of technology. It is very inspiring and holds a lot of the potential of immersive and multi-sensory experiences.
In the age of new media and digital art, it can be easy to get over-stimulated and lose inspiration. Creative blocks are difficult to get through, which is why we’ve collected some insight from a talented pool of New Media artists. Here are some of their top tips for finding inspiration:
Trimex Collective (@TrimexCrew)
“I keep a secret folder with all of my references that I can go back to for inspiration[…] Conceptually I use nature and abandoned architecture in society” (Featured Article Image/Artwork courtesy of Trimex Collective)
Vitoria Cribb (@louquai), Multidisciplinary Artist:
“I read a lot about subjects that I’m interested in at the moment. Now I’m studying and searching more about artists who work with different media and how they handle the questions about their work and how they go about sharing their ideas.” (Featured artwork by Vitória Cribb)
“I get my inspiration from so many places. Traveling, movies, music, nature, psychedelics, love, sex, great conversations, food, museums, architecture and of course, the internet.” (Featured artwork by REO)
Blake Kathryn (@BlakeKathryn)
“Cinematography is a giant pull. Living in LA, I quickly adapted to the cinephile lifestyle. Mindless sketching, taking mental breaks through long walks, and recently browsing random library finds are all great conceptual fodder as well. In general, the more steps I take away from my practice, the more I’m able to dig within myself to pull out authentic ideas and feel confident in bringing it to fruition.” (Featured artwork by Blake Kathryn)
Alida Sun (@alidasun)
On mathematics and mythology as inspirations:
“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!” (Featured artwork by Alida Sun)
Chloe Gao is a Cross-Disciplinary Interaction Designer who focuses on the art of storytelling. We got to talk to her about her experience in interaction design, the most challenging projects, and what immersive art’s place in the age of Instagram.
How did you get started in interaction design?
I first heard about this specific term when I was at NYU ITP for my master’s, but now when I think about it, I feel like I have been doing interaction design since a long time ago. In my early years I did some theater directing. Part of my passion was to design the interaction between the actors and stage, for example, the lighting of the stage would react to what the actor was saying at a certain moment. I did not think too much of if as “Interaction Design”, but more as part of the storytelling, to highlight the moment. After two years at ITP, I have a better understanding of interaction design and start exploring different areas: space and architecture, and of course mixed reality on web and mobile. For me, the core of interaction design never changes, it’s all about storytelling.
Immersive art is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the age of Instagram. As someone who creates interactive designs, what do you make of this?
I actually hated it a lot in the beginning. I did not consider it as art. Now I have a more subjective opinion about instagram immersive art. As technology becomes an inseparable part of our life today, the way people behave has changed as well. Immersive art itself is a derivative of this interesting social phenomenon. It is the trend regardless of whether you hate it or not, because that is how people live their lives now. Many people criticize the quality of the instagram immersive art, because most of them are just a bunch of different rooms with differently colored walls where audience can take selfies. I also do not fancy those shows but it still has its positive side. Unlike traditional art exhibitions in museums or galleries, interactive art has lower barrier. Audience does not need to know too much background knowledge before they enter. It means to be fun and playful. Today’s immersive art shows delivered this message. They made more people interested in interactive arts. When teamlab started 18 years ago it also did not look so attractive, it takes time to make things right.
A lot of the images you shared on Instagram feature the use of the Cinemagraph. Can you explain what that is and how you have used it in your work?
I started to make cinemagraph before I went to ITP. After graduating from UC Berkeley, I moved to New York and worked in the fashion industry as a photographer for a year. Traditional photography can capture the moment perfectly well but different people have different interpretation of that still moment. That’s where I started to make cinemagraphs, to tell the stories behind that one still moment.
You’ve worked on a lot of impressive projects over the past few years. Is there any one in particular that you found to be the most challenging or significant to your career?
The big screen piece called MUSE(https://www.
Is there a particular artist who inspires you, or whose pieces you’re excited about?
Edoardo Tresoldi has been my recent favorite artist. I find out about him when I was doing research for my thesis. I have been fascinated with creating spatial computing art. His installations inspired me a lot. I also like Chemical Brothers. Their audio visualization is just amazing, especially if you go to their live performance. No other words can describe. I also started to do an experimental audio viz project with my friend. Hope we can show it soon.
Featured Image: ‘Ephemeral‘