performancesKELELA, JULIANA HUXTABLE, DINNER live visualsPUSSYKREW, KEVIN RAMSERinteractiveCRASH KISS by ROLLIN LEONARD & TAD LEONARDandAUGMENTATS by CMU MEDIATED REALITIES STUDENTS
VIA was invited by The Carnegie Museum of Art to curate a large-scale event celebrating the launch of their Hillman Photography Initiative, a five-year project exploring photography and digital culture. NOWSEETHIS 2015 was an overwhelming success, bringing together emerging local, national and international talent. This event also dovetailed with the closing of "Distant Feel" by Antoine Catala, co-presented with the New Museum Triennial. We considered this an opportunity to commission new work by emerging artists who are taking daring approaches to digital photography and 3D image capture to explore nu portraiture, queering the body, and mediated forms of intimacy. There were also serendipitous connections that could not be ignored - how could we not give a nod back to the Triennial by inviting Juliana Huxtable "the star of the New Museum Triennial" to DJ? Our music lineup was also a selectively curated network of artists, not just for the sonic palette we were trying to build, but also for the hybrid music/art circles in which they travel, and uncompromising sense of self that is defining a new generation of alt stars.
While NOWSEETHIS was a unique audio-visual event, it was also the culmination of an artist residency, lecture, custom commissions, and university coursework. Here are the research / educational components I developed in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, and insight into the works I commissioned.
Pussykrew developed their work in the context of a 5 day residency at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. The prompt: create a sensual cgi environment for Kelela's performance based on 3D scans of the Carnegie Museum of Art. Pussykrew generated a surreal representation of the museum: combining scans of existing classical, ancient and medieval sculptures from Hall of Architecture and Hall of Sculpture with liquid simulations and rich reflective textures, in order to create a neo-net-baroque landscapes. The resulting videos explored areas in-between classical beauty, tech aesthetics, and imitation of natural environment as the main components of our contemporary culture. While in residence, Pussykrew also gave a public lecture at Carnegie Mellon University on their practice and demo on how to use the Fuel3D scanner.
Kevin Ramser's visuals for Juliana Huxtable and Dinner, integrating and deconstructing web-sourced portraits of the artists, were created using the game engine Unity, and navigated live during their performances. Kevin also collaborated on stage-design and was the technical lead for all visual production. His work was created as part of the Mediate Realities course in CMU's MFA in Video & Media Design program, and received a micro-grant from the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry.
Guests were invited to get close with one another (literally and digitally) in the premiere of CrashKiss - a group photo-booth that digitally collided visitors’ profiles together in a surreal kiss - by Rollin and Tad Leonard. After taking a high resolution photo, using the Python programming language and its numpy array library, the algorithm moved faces together until they touch while preserving the image's foreground and collapsing its negative space. The faces are processed in one dimension; each row of pixels is crashed in isolation of the others. The result is an unsympathetic, granular disassembly of the human subjects. Free prints were available to take home, and every custom kiss joined the online CrashKiss archives.
Inspired by Juliana Huxtable and 90s body art aesthetics, Augmentats was an augmented reality, temporary tattoo photo booth experience. Using temporary tattoos as image targets, guests could virtually adorn their bodies with animated 3D objects. The generated 3D content was unique to each tattoo, and moved on the screen in conjunction with the physical tattoo. Content was created in Unity 3D, Vuforia by Qualcomm an augmented reality plugin for Unity, and Maya by Autodesk for editing and animating 3d models. This app was created as group coursework for Mediated Realities at CMU. Project Direction: Kevin Ramser; Programming: Claire Hentschker, Larry Shea, John Cleater, Kevin Ramser, Danni Zhang; Content Creation: Claire Hentschker, Kevin Ramser, Danni Zhang, Kevin Brophy; Additional Assistance From: Kevan Loney, Dan Sakamoto, Lauren Goshinski.