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Hi, Lumeners! Today we introduce you great people from Spain, the PlayMID team. If you’d like to read their bio, please click here and here, but I wouldn’t do that and believe just in words that our guests are unreally kind, warm-hearted and talented! And let’s read what Lumen finds out about them 🙂
Lumen: I need to know some facts about how does the PlayMID works. Who’s your leader or there’s democracy everywhere? How many cactuses are there in your office? Do you work all the time together or just gathering together for the commercial orders? We read that PlayMID not only a modern art studio, but research center. So please, tell us what kind of researches you conduct in the heart of PlayMID? Are they opened for the community?
Santi Vilanova: In fact PlayMID is a collaboration between two studios, Santi and Eloi from Playmodes and Alex from MID. We used to collaborate on such kind of light art projects where our mixed profiles are needed: Sound engineering (Santi), Software engineering (Eloi) and Hardware engineering (Alex). Then for the creative part of projects, we all collaborate horizontally… no bosses around… 😀
Regarding cactuses, we all live in the countryside so instead of cactuses we have nice gardens with tomatoes, beans, lettuces, onions and so on. You are invited to visit us, we’ll cook fresh vegetables for you!
Lumen: (with tears of gratitude…just joking :)) Thank you, guys! Please, continue….
Santi Vilanova: As we have neat background in engineering and we’re really passionate about technological innovation, we created our own software and hardware systems, so every PlayMID’s project has a really deep research process for developing every lighting system. We are active in Open Source and development platforms forums (Max/msp, Arduino, OpenFrameworks, Reaktor), so many results of our developments are shared for other developers to evolve in with them… This Phenakistoscope toy which you can do at home, for example, is an example of this:
Lumen: Although we’d like to know how you dare to possess so many activity spheres? Means how can you work with the hypothetical project with ALL your passions included? Will something be hurted? And one more in this case. How many hours each of your team spent on self-improvement and what do you do for it?
Santi Vilanova: Nevertheless we have all of those differentiated profiles (software, hardware, sound), the three of us are really curious about everything creative. Since we were teenagers, we’ve been involved as musicians on bands, doing VJ stuff, painting graffiti, animation, 3D modelling… so all those activities are the parts of our background and arise unavoidably on every project that we make.
We really like challenges and always look for projects that allow us to learn something new. Of course, that means that sometimes we make mistakes as we don’t have the experience or deep knowledge in specific developments, but that’s part of the trial and error game of learning, and allow us to make everything better the next time… would be boring otherwise!
Our self-improvement is not planned “professionally”, as it emerges as a vital need: learning to play new instruments, making research on possibilities of new technologies, messing around with innovative software or collaborating with skilled people from other areas.
Lumen: Compare your first and last projects, Santi. You can choose any formal approach of PlayMID studio as both of projects were presented for realization.
Radial: Our first installation as PlayMID was Radial, where we mixed together two developments made by our two studios: The Particle, by MID, a kinetic light sculpture; and BlueBeams, by Playmodes, a set of laser moving heads. We created a combination of both “instruments” which played together in an immersive experience for the audience.
Suspended: Our last installation, instead of being a mixture of individual elements developed separately by the two studios, is a project created in collaboration from since the very beginning. All elements on this installation have been carefully handcrafted by the PlayMID team, from the wireless LED fixtures to the pixel-mapping software and the sound design.
Lumen: Who are your most powerful competitors? Do you mutually respect each other? How the competition influence the quality of your work? Does PlayMID take care on the sympathetic atmosphere in the modern artist community?
Santi Vilanova: There are not so many people in Spain working in this field, we all know each other and have good relationships. Such people as LightingDesignCollective, Espadaysantacruz, or Cube are working with similar ingredients like PlayMID, all of them very nice and talented people.
In the international scenario, we admire artists like Zachary Liebermann, Memo Akten, Elliot Woods, James George… people coming from the OpenSource development universe, where collaboration is more valuable than the competition!
We’d really like to attend congress like resonate, where all visual art community meets to share and learn from each other.
Lumen: Tell us your favourite book from the childhood and from the modern time you’d propose to read for any visual artist. Make a whole list with comments.
Santi Vilanova: Momo, Michael Ende: A must-read for the children of my generation. Really inspiring and imaginative way of alerting about the dangers of rising as an adult with a loss of the childish surprise capacity.
Mortadelo y Filemon: A spanish classical comic book series. Hilarious situations by 2 “intelligent” agents.
1984, George Orwell: An impressive foresight of modern media manipulation, made back in the 40’s…
Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco: I love Umberto Eco’s deep history and philosophical knowledge and found this novel really enlightening, as it warns about dangers of pseudo-science and religious fanatism.
Foundation and Empire, Isaac Asimov: As everything Asimov’s, a really inspiring book for everyone working in the technological creativity field.
Black Hole, Charles Burns: My favorite graphic novel author so far. I love the clearness of the drawing and the deepness of the scripts. A must for every visualist.
The Circle, Dave Eggers: A modern 1984. This time, instead of focusing the “bad guys” as the government, it points to the software multinational giants as privacy destroyers and political influencers.
Lumen: Please, announce our future projects and perspectives of PlayMID development. How the visual art sphere will change in the next 10-20 years in your opinion?
Santi Vilanova: We are working over the installation for an airplane right now. We hope it will be presented shortly at Barcelona’s local celebration. We are also working over some research on control of commercial laser scanners considering our own tools, so we hope that we’ll have a big update for our laser-based installations.
I believe that visual arts are more and more conquering three-dimensional space. We’ve been doing this journey from flat screens to volumetric mapping, and it looks like all this is going much further: digital LED stripes controlled as pixels in the space, light beams used as “lines” to draw in 3D, optical materials like methacrylate, POV-devices…. it looks like visual creation is expanding away from flat surfaces and colonizing the 3D space… we expect more of that in the forthcoming days…
Lumen: Thank you, Santi! Wish all the best to Alex and Eloi! We really believe in you, guys! Because your unique approach to your work is a key to artistic and intelligent success of all your startups!