Thanks to SAW Video I took a little trip to Quebec City as part of an exchange between SAW Video and La Bande Video. It was a very brief stay, but I did get the chance to take in some of the tenth edition of Mois Multi. MM is a multi-disciplinary electronic art festival with an interesting cross-section of technology-based performance and installation work. Unfortunately, there where no performances for me to take in during my short visit so I quickly visited the installation/interactive part of the festival.
There where five in total. Level head from Julian Oliver (Montréal, Canada); Looploop by Patrick Bergeron (Montréal, Canada); ReacTable by Sergi Jordà (Barcelone, Espagne); Mécanisme de réanimation_no. 5 by Manon Labrecque (Montréal, Canada) and Marqueurs d’incertitude et Instants angulaires by Jean-Pierre Gauthier.
Of the five I was most taken with the pieces from Jean-Pierre Gauthier and Patrick Bergeron. Jean-Pierre Gauthier’s work consisted of two pairs of kinetic sculptures while Patrick Bergeron’s was video loop … as one might guess from the title. They are the most simple and straight forward of the five works presented. Although I’m certain that both works have laborious and complex production processes behind them, the end results are elegant works that I’m delighted to have seen.
Simple however, would not be a word I would use for Manon Labrecque’s Mécanisme de réanimation_no. 5. It wears its complexity on the outside with an interesting and impressive wooden sculpture which drives an array of mirrors reflecting a projected image from the ceiling onto a semi-transparent screen. As the array is disassembled and reassembled by the machine the reflected image is exploded is slow motion to become a kind of starry night over a pastoral landscape. The intricacy of the sculpture is quite incredible, and the concept holding the projection and the sculpture together is full of the right kind of drama. However, for me the aesthetic balance was a bit overpowered by the sculpture itself and the projected image was somewhat dwarfed. I would love to see how it would look in a larger space that could reflect the intricacy of the machine in the projection itself.
I was excited to see the ReacTable in the real life. Having seen it I am left with all kinds of different opinions. The quality of the design is quite incredible. The shape recognition and the visual feedback projected on the play surface is truly amazing. Check out their demo videos on YouTube to see the depth of the design. It’s worth a look for sure.
There is lots to be said about the ReacTable, both good and bad. In interacting with the object/instrument I was underwhelmed by what I might be able to do with it, and kind of annoyed by other users who come along and interfere with my experience. (Like someone plucking your guitar strings while you try to learn chords.) It is however, an new kind of instrument and I would never expect it to make me more musically inclined than I already am (that should probably read: I wouldn’t expect it to make up for my lack of musical ability…).
I thought I might be able to find a nice couple of articles about the ReacTable that might show some different perspectives, but mostly searchs reveal a flurry of gadget and music blogs with giant geek crushes on the unique interface. Here is one interesting perspective, and the Wired article for some good general info about its role in Bjork’s tour.
ReacTable, Sergi Jordà
I did enjoy Julian Oliver’s Level head as well. It’s incredibly cute. I hope they don’t find that insulting, but I can’t imagine anyone who designs a tiny little maze of virtual buildings for a tiny little man to walk around in would find it a slight against the work.