Resonate 2013

Last week I went to the Resonate Festival, which was my first creative/tech conference outside of the UK. Resonate, is an annual new media event, now in it’s second year, held in Belgrade, Serbia.

Dom Omladine

I first heard about Resonate after last year’s event which featured the likes of Jer Thorp, Niklas Roy, Josh Nimoy and companies like Nexus Interactive Arts, all of whom I have become much more familiar with the work of over the last few years. This year’s event was equally well attended by a broad range of artists, programmers and creative thinkers like Golan Levin, Kyle McDonald, Memo Akten, Ivan Poupyrev, Casey Reas, Joachim Sauter, the list goes on…

One of the best parts of the Resonate programme was undoubtedly the workshops which took place on the first day. Attendees with full conference passes were given the opportunity to take part in the sessions, and although places were limited, those who didn’t get a place were able to listen in, which was my experience of the workshop day. I was initially a little gutted that I didn’t get a workshop place, although I think it worked out fine – I got just as much out of standing in, had the chance to ask questions and was able to drop in to other sessions at anytime, which was ideal. I actually spent most of my time with Golan Levin and Kyle McDonald’s Computer Vision (CV) workshop in which they shared what seemed like pretty much everything they know from their experience of working with CV, which was extensive!

I found the session really useful and got a lot of great tips, techniques and recommendations on design, set up and code libraries for producing great CV experiences. I’m so grateful for that experience as I feel that I learned so much – I’m only gutted that I didn’t get to have this same experience with a few of the other sessions, I would love to have stood in on Ivan Poupyrev and Jonas Loh’s session on Capacitive and Electrical Field Sensing – I think that would have been a really interesting experience too.

Among loads of great pieces of advice that I gathered, my two main take-always from the CV workshop were:

1. Taking care to carefully design the environment of a CV experience is as critical as the programming and technology that goes into it.
– Consider lighting, backgrounds, positioning of cameras, projectors and the changes over time in the installation environment as these will all affect the overall success of failure of the experience.

2. OSC is an invaluable communication tool for working, not only with CV, but all interactive experiences.
– I’ve already started using OSC as a protocol for communication between Processing, Arduino and iOS/Android devices and it’s speed and flexibility allow programmes and devices to talk to each other with minimal hassle.

Other highlights from the actual conference included:

– Andreas Muller (@nanikawa) of Nanika and Florian Schmitt (@jesusbeuys) of HiReS!
Andreas Muller and Florian Schmitt of Nanika/HiReS! presented a really interesting overview of a number of their recent projects including the Hyundai i40 launch which made use of a remotely controlled lighting rig to selectively reveal parts of a new car being launched. They also talked about experimentation as a path to new projects and the idea of setting yourself seemingly impossible challenges as a great way of pushing yourself to learn new things. One of the concepts that they showed along these lines was research and development into a device solely devoted to keeping a feather afloat, with the use of motion tracking, a number of adjustable fans, and an ever rising development budget which I found pretty funny. I can’t wait to see that when it’s finished!

– Ivan Poupyrev (@ipoupyrev)
Ivan, a research scientist, currently running an interaction group at Disney, gave a fascinating talk on his work in the research and development of emerging technologies and presented three really significant pieces of work: Touché, Revel and Printed Optics. I highly recommend checking out all of his projects on those links as he is doing some really amazing work with interaction design which I’m sure we’ll be seeing in products in the near future. Within his work, he also attempts to focus on ways that existing objects can be augmented with new functionality or purpose, as opposed to creating new objects. I think this is a really important factor in the future of product development as it seems far more logical to develop sustainably where possible.

– Kyle McDonald @kcimc / http://kylemcdonald.net/
I’m a huge fan of Kyle McDonald’s work and processes, and have a lot of respect for his approach and attitude to giving work away for the benefit of, or further development by others. He showed some of his past projects, a few of which were really entertaining as forms of research projects into how we use the internet and our use of the devices which we connect to the internet with. He’s worked on some really interesting projects both in terms of interactivity and the outcomes that they produce, many of which use motion detection, tracking and recognition to manipulate either the digital or physical output. There are lots of really great examples of his work on the link above.

Life Away from the Keyboard
Kyle McDonald – Life Away from the Keyboard

– Joachim Sauter (@artcom) of Art+Com
Joachim Sauter’s talk about the work of his company Art+Com, was yet another eye opener. He spoke about Art+Com’s gradual transition from predominantly digital to physical works and presented some really inspired installations that Art+Com have produced over the years. These included Duality – a platform crossing an area of water on which your footsteps, on a walkway made up of LED panels, create animated ripples which eventually turn in to real ripples in the water it bridges across. He also showed Art+Com’s Kinetic Rain installation at Singapore Airport which creates beautifully animated shapes by adjusting the height of an array of hanging metal balls which appear to float up and down to produce 3D representations of shapes and objects.
One of the most fascinating concepts was the way in which Art+Com have been looking at ways to take advantage of anamorphic projection on physical objects to create hidden messages or symbols in objects. Their installation for Deutsche Bank is a great example of this.

In addition to the workshops and lectures, the festival also featured live music, and club nights in the evenings which made for really great way to end each day. All in all, Resonate was a really good conference with a lot of really fascinating content, and I’d highly recommend it!

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