We’re getting ready for Digital Graffiti 2019 and we’ll be highlighting the artists participating in this year’s festival every week! Join us, follow along, and learn about these incredible global talents and their artwork. This week, we’ve got Q&As with our Artists in Residence, Jessica Van Zee + Jake Taylor from AOA Builds located in New York and Orlando, FL, as well as Tamiko Thiel and Peter Graf from Munich, Germany.

 
Artist: Jessica Van Zee + Jake Taylor
Location: New York City + Orlando, FL
Project title: “Left + Right”
Website: www.aoabuilds.com


What are you most looking forward to about your artist’s residency at Alys Beach?
Living at Alys Beach and creating this year’s projection will be an incredible experience. I am most looking forward to a change in scenery—the separation from my usual place of work will create headspace and new energy, which directly relates to my theme for this year’s projection.

 
Where do you expect to draw inspiration for the piece(s) you’ll be creating for the 12th Annual Digital Graffiti? How will Alys Beach play a role in that inspiration?
Left + Right will focus on representing the two halves of the human brain. Being in a new, quiet place will bring the focus to help me tune into my internal monologue. I plan to channel right-brain and left-brain oriented thoughts into the starkly realistic and inversely abstract visuals. The projection will flow through my stream of consciousness, consuming different proportions of the surface at a time. Viewers will also be able to interact with the projection.

 We live in a world where our brain is constantly being forced to absorb content. Aside from the thousands of channels, millions of episodes, libraries of songs, and more books in the world than one person could ever read in a lifetime, we are only making more media and somehow society is still thirsty for content. The increasingly shorter videos we become used to, compounded with the constant connection to social media, is leading to shorter attention spans and magnifying the need for instant gratification. Can we ever escape the outcomes of this constant intake of information? This is something I’d like to explore during my residency. Being outside in a new setting with just the tools that I need to animate, how many times will I subconsciously go to reach for a phone that isn’t there? How often will I think about the list of shows I still have to watch on Netflix? Will a song get stuck in my head? I find that my own train of thoughts are often derailed. I end up in a room not remembering why I even walked there, I dive into thoughts that distract me from other thoughts, I find myself asking a question and then forgetting to listen to the answer, I hear an iPhone ring in the room and check to see if it’s mine even though I don’t have an iPhone. Our thoughts and senses are becoming terrifyingly focused on the short term. Have you ever written down your train of thoughts for 5 minutes straight? That’s essentially what I’d like to dissect.

 
What types of technology do you typically use to create your work? If you didn’t have it, would you still be able to produce it?
At AOA, the technology we use to create immersive experiences is site-specific and determined by the story that is being told. This year for Digital Graffiti, infrared technology will be incorporated into the projection in order to have silhouettes of viewers create masks in the animation to reveal another layer of media underneath.

 
What else can you tell us about your work, for example your use of color (or lack of), rhythm, or visual texture?
Visual style will vary greatly throughout the projection. Right-brain oriented imagery will be brightly colored, energetic, and high contrast. Picture rows and rows of text, all in different fonts, flooding through an image wrapped up within a spaghetti pile of colorful, mixed-match patterns over an ever-morphing textured backdrop. That’s what I feel a projection of my right brain thoughts would be like during a moment of reflection on postmodernism and it’s never ending opportunities—as well as the hollowness that it brings to the arts. The left side will be more streamlined, orderly, and monochromatic. Imagine white lines over a black surface, with infinite patterns of the golden rule aligned on the entirety of the surface, each being methodically colored in with progressing shades of red, one at a time, glitching occasionally. That’s what I feel like could represent the left side of my brain trying to divide the dinner check into 16ths, while incorporating tax and tip.

 
What do you find most remarkable about projected art?
Projections can alter a familiar and ordinary space into something truly unique, even if it’s only temporary. Projection mapping furthers this originality by completely transforming a space into an immersive setting that presents the opportunity to completely surround a viewer. Whether it’s a lush forest, crowded environment, or building façade, any surface can incorporate projection to help immerse a viewer in a story.

 
How do you see expanding your use of projection for your art?
AOA is a leader in designing and creating themed entertainment projects from concept to completion. I plan on growing AOA’s portfolio in media creation and projection mapping as we expand our design team capabilities.

 

 

Artist: Tamiko Thiel and /p (Peter Graf)
Location: Munich, Germany
Project title: “Unexpected Growth”
Website: www.tamikothiel.com/unexpectedgrowth


What are you most looking forward to about your artist’s residency at Alys Beach?
This residency will allow us to expand our previous augmented reality practice with an immersive large scale projected dimension.

 
Where do you expect to draw inspiration for the piece(s) you’ll be creating for the 12th Annual Digital Graffiti? How will Alys Beach play a role in that inspiration?
Our work is always very site-specific, and reflects the special circumstances and spatial realities of the site. We have been researching the history, geography, and ecology of the Gulf Coast, Walton County, and Alys Beach. We look forward to finding out more about the physical structures of the site and the social dynamics of the community.

 
What types of technology do you typically use to create your work? If you didn’t have it, would you still be able to produce it?
Computer graphics—which we bring our own laptops for. If we didn’t have computers, we couldn’t make the graphics, but would then make other forms of art (drawings, paintings, installations).

 
What else can you tell us about your work, for example your use of color (or lack of), rhythm, or visual texture?
We strive for a harmonious yet colorful palette of colors, with an ever-shifting composition of shapes. This works well with the background and the visitors that will be visible in the real-time collage of our virtual and real images.

 
What do you find most remarkable about projected art?
The immersive effect of brilliant imagery projected life sized or larger, and how it affects the viewers visual, perhaps aural, and certainly kinesthetic, proprioceptor senses.

 
How do you see expanding your use of projection for your art?
Augmented reality overlays computer graphic artworks on top of the live camera view of a mobile device. For quite a while, we have been wanting to view our augmented reality (AR) artworks not just on a small smartphone, but as large-sized immersive projections. Curators usually commission AR with the expectation that they will not have to supply any hardware at all, much less the high-powered, large-scale projectors that are visible in environments of ambient lighting (buildings, people). We are thrilled that the Digital Graffiti festival wants exactly this combination, and look forward to being able to play around with a couple of different sites to find the perfect match.

 

Artist: Kaiman Walker
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Project title:
Website: 10print.net


What are you most looking forward to about your artist’s residency at Alys Beach?
I enjoy challenge—I think giving yourself a set amount of time to work on something is a fun design constraint. With my current job as a theme park designer, projects are on the scale of years to finish something, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I come up in a shorter amount of time.

 
Where do you expect to draw inspiration for the piece(s) you’ll be creating for the 12th Annual Digital Graffiti? How will Alys Beach play a role in that inspiration?
I’m fascinated with how people interact with art. Everything that I do has that in mind. The festival will be a great opportunity to do get out of the digital realm and do something in a physical space again.

 
What types of technology do you typically use to create your work? If you didn’t have it, would you still be able to produce it?
My medium is electronics and code. I work with software and hardware to make new and interesting experiences for people. This could mean anything from creating something in a video game engine, to making an electronic circuit that controls a light to coding a machine learning network. I’ve gone down a path recently to using the organic material of living plants as sensors that can be read by computers. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a tool bag of skills. I’m fairly agnostic of the tools I use but they usually take the form of technology.

 
I think that trying to produce my work void of technology is possible in the sense that ANYTHING is possible, but technology takes the energy of producing the work and allows that energy to be spent on the idea itself.

 
What else can you tell us about your work, for example your use of color (or lack of), rhythm, or visual texture?
My entry to art was playing drums in a band. One day at practice, I realized that I had a crash cymbal that I wasn’t using in an intentional way. I would always hit it on one every time.

 
Boom BAP Boom BAP CRASH.

 
That bothered me, so I kind of punished myself by taking it away. I couldn’t use it correctly so I would put myself in timeout until I could learn how to use it. I then realized that I had another drum that I only used in a very specific way, so that was the next thing to go. I kept taking drum parts away from myself until I eventually had the bare bones of a drum set.

 
I learned to be intentional and critical with every hit I made. Everything had a purpose or I elected to be silent. I practiced intention by singing my drum fills instead of letting the muscle memory of my hands dictate the music, I transitioned my focus from speed, volume, and gear to dynamics, texture, and patterns. I found myself actually listening to sounds opposed to songs for the first time. I eventually learned that I didn’t really need to add anything back to the drum set because I could do enough with the bare bones.

 
When I started doing visual art, I tried to bring the same approach. I was terrified of color, I didn’t get it and it didn’t get me. I wasn’t worthy of color yet so I went without it and I tried to see how much I could do by only using black and white. I think that if an element doesn’t add to the idea, it shouldn’t be there. If you can go without something, it shouldn’t be there either. I think that this idea contributed to my clean style.

 
What do you find most remarkable about projected art?
On a low level, computers are extremely simple and predictable things. Their memory breaks down to a single file line of ones and zeros. Life and the physical world, on the other hand, is very complicated and messy. Projectors are one of many tools where computers and the physical world are able to overlap and interact with each other.

 Want to show something digital on a floor? Dope. Point it at the floor.
Want to cast generative light on dancers? Dope. Point it at the dancers.

 
Projectors allow designers to set up an idea quickly and tear it down without damaging any of the infrastructure of the physical world. It encourages people to attempt things without fears of consequence and time investment.

 
How do you see expanding your use of projection for your art?
I design things the way that all software is written. Programs have an input, some sort of logic, and an output. I think focusing on the input of the experience will be the most interesting part for me. Something becomes magical when a person can see they affect something but don’t know how—the logic is the hidden magic and the output will obviously be some sort of projection. I’m hoping that I can make something that’s magical for someone.