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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creator's Project

Blogging about my experience at the Creator's Project's New York City event in DUMBO this evening.  I was strolling through DUMBO on my way to yoga when I spotted a flyer for the event and there, in big letters, was Four Tet, one of my favorite electronic musicians, on the list of musical acts.  I immediately started trying to RSVP on the website with my phone, as I continued walking down the street, before I even knew much about the Creator's Project.  Apparently, it's a collective that supports artists who are using technology to create in innovative ways.  The event in DUMBO this weekend was to display a lot of the most recent installations and projects.  Some incredibly cool stuff.

Because I had to work until 6pm today and because Four Tet was playing right at 6pm, I rushed over to High Street right after work and managed to catch the end of Four Tet's set first (after checking in and getting a wrist band, of course).  As I walked up, I heard a familiar song off the album that came out last year and began to get excited.  DUMBO was throbbing with activity.

After Four Tet's set was over (the 15 minutes I managed to catch), I scanned for a map and made a plan of what I wanted to see.  Having read about most of the installations before hand, I knew what I wanted to see first.  "Origins" by United Visual Artists with music by Scanner.  First, I stopped in to Powerhouse Books to see what was going on and caught a glimpse of this.  "Urbanus Female" by U-Ram Choe. It was a giant metallic looking flower hanging from the ceiling with a glimmering light in the middle that would react to your movements.  I didn't get close enough to try though.  Just watched a few people stare at it for a while. 

After that it was on to the Tobacco Warehouse for "Origins."  This was a giant 30 foot metal cube erected inside the Tobacco Warehouse on Water Street, with LED lights lining the frame that would flash on and off in elaborate and intricate patterns aligning with the score being pumped out of speakers in the four corners of the cube.  At the entrance of the warehouse, they were doing the old one in one out routine and again at the actual structure...because you could walk inside it and observe it from within. Keep in mind that it's already dark out and the only light is coming from the structure itself.

I stood around and watched it for a bit, then slid into another portion of the roofless warehouse to see the musician that was performing on stage there.  Looking at the program I picked up later, now I see that it was the end of Atlas Sound's set.   

I watched one song and then hurried along to see more of the installations.  Still without program at this point, I opted to jump on the next line I saw, having no idea exactly what it was.  I even was asked by passerby and had to admit my ignorance.  After about 40 minutes of waiting in line (15 of that actually inside the building before entering the installation, hearing an almost unintelligible wash of sound oozing out of the speakers),  I finally found myself in a small room with four openings in the ceiling, light pouring out of them, the music much louder.  I was inside Jonathan Glazer and J. Spaceman's "A Physical Manifestation of Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space."  There was an ambient electronic piece, much more clearly parsed now floating out of the speakers in the floor but depending on where you stood (or laid down):

you would hear different parts of the mix louder than others.  The four openings in the ceiling were pouring shafts of light onto the ground and we were told to try lying down in each shaft of light to get a different experience with the music.

After I had my fill of that, I wandered back out onto the street and turned a corner headed toward 81 Front Street, a gallery that, only a few weeks ago had been displaying some of my favorite exhibits at the DUMBO Arts Festival.  Inside this time was another of the installations that I had read about earlier in the week.  Meditation by Minha Yang.  It was comprised of three speakers emitting meditative sounds in the middle of a screen with an animated projection that would interact with your movements.  This might have been the most fun I had the whole time.

People were dancing around in front of the projection screen and watching the lights play.  Standing and watching was almost as fun as actually playing with the light yourself.  You could get really creative with your movements and almost always get satisfying results.  One other attendee asked me to repeat something I had done so he could take a better shot of it with his camera.  A handful of other really cool installations were in this same space and among them this.  "Strata #4" by Quayola.  Scroll down and watch the video. 

I left this space with a mind to grab a snack at the grocery store on Washington Street and then go check out "Life on Mars Revisited."  The music video for the song "Life on Mars" by David Bowie apparently had all this extra footage that got lost and then rediscovered (check out the video here on the reimagining of the footage if you're interested).  Film director Barney Clay took the footage and edited it into a stunning video piece and it was on display on the 9th floor of the building where my yoga studio is.  The building at 10 Jay Street is sort of off the beaten path from all the other exhibits, and to get to "Life on Mars Revisited" we had to wind our way to the back of the building on the second floor to find the freight elevator, so it felt a bit secretive, like we were sneaking off to see something exclusive...which we kind of were.  I almost might not have gone all the way down there if I didn't know much about it, wasn't that interested or didn't know the area.  But I'm glad I did.

When the freight elevator left us off at the 9th floor, we were led into a small room with floor to ceiling projection screens on all the walls.  Just like "A Physical Manifestation of Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space," we were told the best way to experience it was laying down, so we all kind of piled onto the floor and waited for the footage to start.  I fully did not know what to expect.  The video was projected on all four walls but each wall was different.  The video footage itself was very spare, mostly a single shot of David Bowie, all made up with blue mascara, singing the song.  Part of the way through the video though, you start to see Clay's divergence from the original, the video seemingly cracked like glass and flashing while the audio becomes granulated and distorted.  There was a warning on the door to the screening room for epileptics that simply said if you have epilepsy, do not enter.

At the end of the video, I left and began to head back to the center of it all to catch one last gallery full of installations.  I was trying to get back to 55 Washington Street but it happened to be cordoned off from earlier because it was the main avenue that led to the music stage set up under the Manhattan Bridge archway.  I displayed my wrist band to the bouncers but they turned me away, rather rudely, probably because they were tired.  I tried to explain that I was not headed to the stage but to the one last venue I had not checked out but I realized that they were probably underpaid and didn't really give a shit and that it was probably better to just go around the block the other way to get in.  So I did.  First I ran across "Soil" at 30 Washington Street, a series of aluminum plates that move as you walk across them.

After taking this in for a while, I wound my way back behind 55 Washington Street and slipped into the place.  In this gallery was, first a DJ and a group of dancing hipsters but then four other works that I had only read about that night.  The coolest was "Diskinect," a puppet connected to a Kinect controller that sensed your movement and caused the puppet to somewhat mimic what you were doing.  I played with it for a while then moved on to "Super Pong," which, as far as I could tell was a cross between Pong and foosball which you could actually play.  This I opted not to play but just to watch.  The last thing I experienced was "Six-Forty by Four-Eighty."  This was yet another interactive piece that was comprised of several magnetic blocks with colored lights on a screen.  You could rearrange the blocks any way you wanted on the screen and also tap them to change their color.  

At this point, I was pretty tired because I brought my laptop home with me from work and had been carrying it all night, even during the Four Tet concert.  So, I wound my way back to High Street and headed home.  Greatest part about the evening?  It was all free!

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