Over the last week-end, Belgrade was home to one of the most innovative and future orientated design conference in Europe, Resonate. The Serbian capital offered a uniquely intriguing backdrop scenario with its bizarre cultural dichotomies merging surprisingly free internet connection in parks and streets, monolithic not-so-glamorous soviet architectural dystopias, fancy ice cream and coffee shops, elegant co-working spaces alongside bombed buildings never recovered from the Serbian conflict and interestingly enough a Silicon Valley that, contrarily from what you’d expect, takes its name from the ubiquitous polymer living in cheeks and bums rather than computer chips.
The conference, that attracted over 2500 visitors from across the globe, has become a “must-do” in the diary of many creative for its exceptional selection of artists, technologists, futurists, musicians and performers.
Here is an excerpt of some of the most interesting panels and lectures at Resonate 2015.
Nicolas Nova, in plain RCA fashion, welcomed the audience with its lecture titled, Design Fictions. The co-founder of Near Future Laboratory presented a series of speculative artifacts analyzing the cultural consequences of digital technology and the way it influence behaviours in society. His interest lays particularly in science fiction and more specifically in designed objects called props that embed the future in a vision of what it could be like. To Be Designed Catalog is a collection of near future’s ordinary objects exploring the nature of make-believe creations. Curious Rituals is an interesting research project investigating gestures, postures and digital habits occurring in the “digital everyday” as well as a speculating on future gestures arising from new future devices.
Artificial Rome, is a Berlin based studio working for “the information age”. The duo remarked the intrinsic risks involved with over-relying on technologies that makes it hard to maintain originality, an example of this is the Kinect open library that both opened up a great load of possibilities and dictated a particular approach that naturally translated in swarms of homogeneous results at the price of creative innovation. Solution to this, they believe, is “to reintroduce the human element to counteract this technological dictatorship.”
Projects like KIA GT ride and Pursuit Across Europe are a great example of this. During the conference they also unveiled the early results of an R&D project involving ferrofluid (I know, I know we’ve seen way too much of this but wait, this sounds great!) and 500 electromagnets- their aim is to create a system that will allow them to create three-dimensional portraits where the depth is relative to the magnetic field’s intensity produced by the electromagnets. I am incredibly curious to see where this experiment will end up- stay tuned for the results.
Ruairi Glynn, director of interactive architecture lab, at the prestigious Bartlet UCL is one of the funniest character ever. Likely, he also has a stunning portfolio of works bridging the worlds of architecture, design and robotics like no others. Performative ecologies investigate the relationship between swinging artificial intelligence machines (robots) and humans. Over the course of the exhibition the innocuous artificial creatures learn from visitors’ response what gestures created an emotional response in the audience adapting their subsequent behaviour.
His research into Delta robots lead to Motive Colloquies created for the Centre Pompidou and Fearful Symmetry for the Tate Modern. This two site specific project, created for two of the most renowned museums in the world, are uniquely studying human fascination for robots and the human tendency to see life in moving objects. Other excellent project shown include, The Famous Grouse Sculpture in collaboration with MLF, and Balls.
Next was an excellent surprise, Paul Skinner technologist at Tellart. After a brief carrier in advertising he landed at Tellart where he developed projects like Chrome Web Lab for the Science Museum London, an exhibition trying to explain to the broader public how the internet works in simple terms through a series of engaging interactive installations. UAE Museum of the Future exhibition created a design vision showcasing what the future might look like in the Emirates. The goal of the exhibition was “to create an embodied experience to confront people with living in the future” through tangible experiences people can understand.
Personally, FIELD was one of the most awaited highlights of the festival. Whether because of some kind of technician performance anxiety or because of the overheated room shortly after the start of the lecture a major technical issue with the projector caused to pause the talk for nearly 30min killing the flow of the duo speaking. As the issue was resolved and they restarted the time was almost over leaving the audience with a bit of bitter taste. For those of you who are not familiar with the extra-hyped London based studio, these are the guys behind stunning projects like Stella McCartney- Barricade, 10.000 Digital Painting, Maserati Sensing Speed as well as the branding of Resonate itself.
The misfortunate metaphysical combination of Belgrade’s marathon that diverted every possible bus or taxi, the absence of a subway, a proper information system, my abominable understanding of Cyrillic alphabet and on top of that a ghastly storm meant that it took me nearly two hours to reach the conference for day two missing most of the talk from kimchi and chips.
Luckily, I managed to arrived just on time to see the development of Light Barrier, their latest installation that creates floating graphics objects which “animate through space as they do through time”. Using a complex series of convex mirrors they managed to map the reflected light allowing them to control the resulting visuals. Over the years the studio gained international recognition through a series of fascinating interactive projects like Line Segments Space and Assembly.
Robin McNicholas, from Marshmellow Laser Feast, the creative zenith of Resonate 2015. If you don’t know MLF, investigate! The studio is recognized as one, if not the most, ingenious creative studio in the world. When a new project from MLF comes out you can be sure it will shake grounds. The studio always manage to mitigate the creative dilemma of pioneering while dealing with client’s precaution. Projects of the likes of Memex, Meet Your Creator, McLaren P1 Launch or Sony Real Time Projection Mapping are first timers hard to forget.
The closing talk by Jack Schulze was real fun with lots of food for thought. Schulze, which is now working for Google as a researcher is the guy behind the somehow popular Hello Little Printer back in 2012. He talked the audience through the process of manufacture the printer and burn 3/4 of a million pound of venture capital in 9 months. Venture Capitals that he describes has individuals with lots of money to invest in nonsense, nonsense that if you’re lucky you can be part of!
In recent years I’ve heard a lot of contrasting opinions about Resonate, but have to admit that it was a blast! An exciting creative explosion took over Belgrade with talks, workshops, hosting the best players in the international creative industry, amazing performers, awesome concerts and wild night parties. Make sure you keep your April free for the 2016 edition.