FITC 09: Outside the Lines
26 May - 28 May 2009
From the afternoon of May 26 to the midnight of 28, Toronto's crowded twitter sphere endured yet another storm of wild ideas on interaction, motion, animation and creativity, this time all coupled with the tag #FITC.
Flash in the Can, originally tailored to Flash enthusiasts and in its 8th year, now covers much more than Flash and has since branched out to Amsterdam, New York, Chicago and Seoul.
This year Toronto was host to over 70 local and international speakers and 1000 attendees. With the 2009 theme Outside the Lines, the speakers were on a mission to expose everyone to new ways of working and thinking, breaking new ground not only with the available tools but often by combining them or creating new ones from scratch.
Designing for mobile devices, multi-touch surfaces and augmented reality were among the bigger trends
This year the FITC crew did a great job of capturing the presentations on the FITC Blog, don't miss their coverage.
Your humble reporter did his best to attend as many talks as possible, here are a few bite sized highlights of the creative stream of presentations. Check out the event's website for many more links and speaker profiles.
The Digital Graffitti Installation kept everyone busy between shmoozing and walking in and out of talks.
Day one started with conceptual heavy weights. Camille Uterback, Zachary Liberman and Golan Levin are among the artists who have been making waves in the interactive art community in the past decade.
Seeing their presentations one after another delivered home the message of designing for human sensibilities rather than technical possibilities. In all the works the ideas remain intact and are reinforced with the technology.
responding to bodies: My Work is watching you, Camille Utterback
Camille has been exploring possibilities of human-computer interaction with a bandwidth broader than the keyboard and the click. As she puts it "from the point of view of a computer you are just a finger and an eye", inputting information with your fingertips and observing the results on the screen.
This is simply too limited in comparison to human interaction, where our whole bodies, expressions, positions in three dimensional space and even our pauses, silences and stillness are constituents of every day to day interaction.
In a way walking into Camille's installations is like walking into a room with a person sitting there, you are communicating even when you avoid eye contact or pass by silently.
In many of her pieces, like Untitled5 and Abundance, interaction happens just by virtue of one's presence.
And almost in all of her works, starting with her iconic Text Rain project from 1999, spectators can use their whole body, dance, twirl and jump around to input data.
Art, Gesture, computation, Framework
Zachary Liberman [http://www.thesystemis.com/] , Golan Levin of TMEMA
Zach Liberman came back to FITC with his collaborator Golan Levin and a hat full of new tricks. Under the name Tmema the Zach and Golan have been collaborating since 2002. Each of them are known for their poetic works, playing with concepts of the visible and invisible, touch and movement.
They bring a great deal of humility and purpose to the technologies they use and put the soft in software. In many of the projects code is shaped around human understanding and natural interaction.
In Manual Input Sessions and Messa di Voce, software becomes an extension of human abilities or a leap of imagination, fusing the visual and the aural by creating sound for shadows cast on the screen or by giving shape to the voice of actors.
Golan's recent work, Merce's Isosphere, is another great example of software as an extension of human body where he takes motion capture data of Merce Cunningham's fingers and knuckles and creates a virtual dance piece.
Similar to Utterback's work the sense of play is essential in these projects. In pieces like the nterstitial Fragment Processor and Hidden Worlds there are no rules and no mistakes, viewers freely play around with the pieces and discover.
In Hidden Words the viewers sitting around a table see a Three dimensional representation of their voice through the glasses, a flat image is also projected on the table. [image courtesy of tmema.org]
Near the end of the presentation Zach wowed the audience with a video uploaded to youtube on the same day of his collaboration with Marco Tempest to create an augmented reality card trick.
Joshua Davis's installations at Function13.
First day ended with Joshua Davis adding another humorous and entertaining episode to his record of presentations at FITC. He showed some of the process behind his recent pieces and even with most of the audience familiar with his general concepts and workflow his presentation didn't seize to get the giggles and a big applause.
The night followed with an opening reception for his solo show at Function13, the half design shop half gallery in Toronto's Kensington Market.
On day two Joshua Hirsch, The "Rock Star" from Big Spaceship, did have a rocking presentation indeed. When someone from an agency can speak for 45 minutes while showing very few client works and lots of obsessive fun filled nonsensical projects you know they are living and breathing creative culture.
As the Minister of Technology for the award winning Big SpaceShip, Joshua explained how the company has restructured itself around creativity and productivity. Having teams sit together for projects, being open to new ideas from anyone and keeping it fresh and playful is not a tall order but very few agencies pull it off.
Here are a few tips: Call your agency a creative agency. Get strategists, designers, producers and developers involved on projects as soon as possible. – Did you notice one has the title Creative? anyone can be creative – Think of your work space as where you live most of your life and make it like home. Utilize your downtime and chip away at those ideas you have talked about for months and months. Once you got these covered, be talented and do great work. Simple, right?
Hope vs. Despair measures number of smiley faces vs. sad ones and tells you how happy the world really is!
Pretty Loaded is a page with preloaders loading preloaders loading preloaders... you get the idea.
The Audience trying to control the Pong raquet by waving at the camera.
The Cool Shit Hour was one of the most action packed presentations with five of the most talente developers out there, each showing their latest trick in 10 minutes. Balázs Serényi previewed SourceBinder.com, and managed to create a pong game in Papervision 3D with physics engine and a live feed from twitter.
Then he got the audience on the left and right side of the room to wave their hands in the air for the webcam, trying control a cube and catch the twitter blocks falling from sky!
The madness continued when Dr.Woohoo unveiled his magic in OpenFrameworks. First he showed an example of moving objects in Illustrator in realtime, impressive.
Then he started creating keyframes in Maya and manipulating modeling properties of a sphere in real time based on data feed from volume levels out of iTunes, amazing. You can see the resilting videoclip here. Koen De Weggheleire, Ralph Hauwert and Mario Klingemann each presented another 10 minute of awesome.
Jared Ficklin of Frog Design presents Seeing Sound.
The closing keynote of the festival was a dramatic mixture of lab experiments, fundamentals of sound, metal music and flames all ultimately in service of visualizing sound in Flash.
Jared Ficklin brought with him lots of energy and a smoke machie. Starting with the physics of sound he demonestrated how sound travels in space, and explained the wave qualities of sound with his ruben's tube and this video of the flame music visualizer. The presentation then came back to the digital realm with examples of flash based sound visualizers and tips and tricks for fine tuning a visualization.
My Favorites were a tribute visualization of the night sky based on Stephen Hawking's reading of The Universe in a Nutshell, with one star for each sentence. And a visualization of all Nirvana songs with the impractical yet intriguing idea of buying music based on how it looks, or picking the songs that have a similar shape to what you already listen to.
Listening to a speaker with so much interest invested in his work was inspiring and a great send off from FITC Toronto. With wishes of another wildly creative year for the community and more exciting show and tells in 2010.
| Behrouz Hariri is a young Iranian graphic designer constantly traveling between Iran and Canada. Culturally and aesthetically fusing these two different cultures - his work is fresh, new and representative for the current generation of graphic designers who remix and combine the traditional with the contemporary. Behrouz holds a B.Des. from York University and Sheridan Institute and has studied and worked with skillful masters of Persian graphic design including Reza Abedini, Saed Meshki and Majid Abbasi, both in University of Tehran and independently.
His recent projects include 50 Years of Iranian Graphic Design, lectures and exhibitions held in York university, and translating the acclaimed documentary Helvetica into Farsi, screened in Tehran in 2008.
Behrouz is the online editor of DabirehCollective.com and a contributor to Neshan Magazine,, PingMag and TAXI. He is keen on language, typography, urban infrastructure, the city of Tehran, budget traveling, intense inspirational sessions in nature and keeps saying "I'll skydive this summer!" – he will.
Talk to him here
|Editorial Iranian Contributor|
All images courtesy of FITC.
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