This week’s creator residency was an exploration of different forms of digital craftsmanship, and the worlds that can be created through such practices.
Open Studio began with the creators each giving elevator pitches of their residency projects and reflecting on their first weeks. Nico conceptualized Agartha as a multimedia art piece that creates a virtual prototype for an eco village with the goal of translating it into a physical eco village. A video game component allowing the player to experiment with the tools, strategy, and management needed to build a virtual eco village will allow her to share her proof of concept with the wider community. D3MO intended to focus on defining his artist alias– who is D3MO, and what is D3MO as an artistic persona and project? Kabuki intended to build a generative NFT incorporating sound– a nod to his history of producing sound installations– with the intent of delivering a working prototype by week four.
“Inspiration from the Strangest Places,” was a journey into Kabuki’s creative process for creating a generative NFT. He began by walking us carefully walking us through the Cables GL interface, a no-code platform for creating NFTs that is keyboard-centric and intuitive to use. From operators to orbit controls and flow visualization, technical and artistic explanations intermingled throughout. The session focused on how logic can be used to inspire a creative process, even though some may view those two things as mutually exclusive. By using operators to keep adding and changing modules in the program– just messing around with different possibilities– a whole world of possibilities is opened.
In “What I Create,” Nico explored permaculture as a spiritual science– a holistic way to understand land, environment, and needs. She brought in Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics and Bill Mollison’s Permaculture in discussing the intellectual basis of her work. She explained how it filled in the gaps in modern science, which has become highly compartmentalized and unhealthy, by recognizing the need to take multiple perspectives into consideration, since empiricism is an imperfect view of understanding. Permaculture is a practice that helps unify and ground these various perspectives, and thus is one of the major elements of Agartha. It brings us into ethical issues such as care of the earth, care of the people, and how to consume with limits. The last idea of overcoming materialism is especially important. Growing up in the midst of a middle class boom in China, Nico was surrounded by the idea of materialism– but when she participated in Mars College and lived in the middle of the desert with little, she realized that owning more doesn’t make you happier. Agartha aims to illustrate how permaculture can elevate communities through thoughtful integration of planting and nature. Specifically, it helps us experiment with how we can build permaculture– simulating energy use, using sustainable building materials, and other building blocks of a sustainable eco village.
In his first yh4 event of the week– a name which is an ode to nature’s beauty– D3MO explained his desire to portray the world in an exotic fashion through 3D art, diving into his creation process in Blender. Electricity is a prominent theme– one of the ways we are all connected, and one of main elements in the creatures D3MO creates. Explaining his creative process, he often begins without a plan– “it’s all about being connected with your intuition.” He embraces trial and error in creating his pieces, and even uses errors in his favor. “A lot of times I create something, and I don’t like it and erase it completely. It’s about enjoying the process of creating.” His residency project, yh4, is about creating different biomes from different places, but mostly underwater. Ghostfish, one of the pieces he is working on, takes inspiration from the abyssal zone– a space where there is no food, but they get sustenance from mushrooms and other things just floating in the water. He also talked about embracing creative destruction, sometimes recycling his own creatures to give himself a deeper connection to them.
“Dead Ends and Emerging Pathways” from Kabuki extended on his first event of the week with a methodological session focused on patches in Cables GL. Using the FF Logo as an example, he shaped it into a spinning cube with orbit control. He also demonstrated how to apply capture to a specific object as a light source. Much of the event focused on a common thread that has emerged in the creator residency of working through play. He focuses on featuring and showing us different patches and how to use them to create the dynamic movement that is the basis of his NFT collection; explains interactivity and creating non-repetitive functions using random noise; and using array transfer from one system to another in his NFT. What does introducing chaos gradually into a piece render into? Diving into the technical details of creation explores this meditation.
Nico’s “Technical Deep Dive into Interactive Digital Art” continued the technical explorations into creators’ processes. She took us into the symbol of Agartha– the pinecone, which resonates with the idea of the all seeing eye. She worked closely in Blender, particularly with her favorite tool, the array modifier. Diving into the design of the eco-village architecture, she explained how at the top of each pillar is a lotus flower. This sparked an important discussion on planning resources– though she loved the multifaceted elements of the plant, it had many vertices, which at times made it too heavy to include in the game. She then showed the thought processes of integrating hydroponic plants in all elements of the community, something prevalent in the solarpunk movement, as well as her thinking for distributing the game. Remaining true to open source principles and ensuring the game was on as many accessible platforms as possible is important to her. Bridging many worlds, from traditional games to web3 platforms, will be a major challenge as she continues to develop her project.
Ending the week with his second yh4 session, D3MO discussed the familiarity of his creative process and gave us a behind the scenes look of designing sound for the project using piano, a plug in for synths, and– ever-present– a whoosh effect to create a sense of movement. To D3MO, less is sometimes more: he commented that fewer tracks often made for more effective music. In discussing how he made the music for his butterfly silphs, he mentioned how when he started on a piece to score, the visuals themselves often give him the starting place for a full song. This idea of metamorphosis is important to his process– new ideas give birth to new ideas. He just hits record and while the piece he uses may not fit, it either melds into something larger and gets put in elsewhere, or trashed altogether. As he was recording vocals, he talked about how his creative process is his rebirth, from doing something a ghost would do to truly stepping into himself.