Contemporary Art @ Boğaziçi - Interview Project



Ensar Oytun Morgül - - 20.05.2013

Genetic Moo build living installations in pixels and light. It consists of two artists named Nicola Schauerman and Tim Pickup. Nicola Schauerman graduated with an MA from the Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts, Middlesex University in 2006. She is the founding member of the art group Genetic Moo, who have presented work at numerous British venues including the Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, Exploding Cinema and Area10 and at international film festivals in Venice, Munich and New York. Tim Pickup has worked in multi-media art and programming for over 10 years. He has produced short films, games and toys for the internet, electronic music and radio programmes. He received an MA in Digital Arts from Camberwell College of Arts in 2009. Their work has been exhibited extensively including the De La Warr Pavilion (2010); Watermans (2010) The Wellcome Collection (2011) and Glastonbury (2011). One of the works, Starfish, received a John Lansdown Award for Interactive Digital Art at Eurographics (2007) and was nominated for an Erotic Award (2012).

Can you introduce yourself and tell a little bit about your background?

Genetic Moo is Tim Pickup and Nicola Schauerman. We both have a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Digital Art. NS’s background is in film-making 16mm and digital, and TPs background is in Maths, programming and video.

How long have you been an artist and how did you get started?

Genetic Moo started building and exhibiting interactive installations in 2008. This was prompted by NS’s desire to make the typically passive film audience active, TP’s growing interesting in coding for interaction and a shared interest in biology – specifically marine biology; simple organisms; parasitism and symbiosis; and super-organisms.

What is Genetic Moo and what kind of art are you known for?

Genetic Moo build living installations in pixels and light. Darkened spaces reveal beguiling and unsettling creatures, combining elements of the human and the animal. These creatures, which include Starfish, Animacules and Cockatoo Squid respond in a variety of life-like ways to motion, touch, sound and illumination. The works are driven using open source software and webcams. The pull between attraction and repulsion is an important element of our grotesque creations. Our work may inspire disgust but laughter is never far behind. By creating tense experiences we ask users to question the nature of our creatures and what they have to say about human evolution. Interaction enables us to heighten an illusion of life, and create rich user driven narratives.

How has your work changed over the years?

In the last two years our work has developed in a couple of ways. There is now a wider range or interactive interface technologies; OS software for us to choose from. In the early days we used webcams, infra-red lighting, Flash and the motion-tracking software EyesWeb. While we continue to use webcams and Flash, we now also use Kinect and Processing. This enables us to vary the ways in which the audience engages with our works and to be more flexible in the types of locations we can exhibit. A second development relates to our recent collaboration with the digital artist Sean Clark. Together, we have been constructing digital ecologies. We are interested in the way artworks ‘bleed’ into a space – usually this is considered a problem in group shows – with artists complaining that the sound or light of one person’s artwork is interfering with theirs. We decided to explore the positive side of this overlap and how artworks might utilize the output from other works. Our experiments led to the exhibition Symbiotic, where we each constructed three artworks. See the following web pages:

Why do you make art?

A passion for making things and creating experiences.

What is your creative process like?

We might start by individually exploring/researching a topic and if it engages us then we’ll discuss it to see if we both want to work with it in some way. Developing a project will involve making sketches; animation and coding tests. We are often working on two or three projects at the same time – so these often feed into each other. We both have skills in digital photography, video and programming. This means that, although NS takes responsibility for the visuals and TP for the coding, we can both critically discuss how a project is developing. It’s really important that an artist recognizes when something isn’t working – collaboration facilitates this. We continue to discuss and develop work even at the exhibition stage. We usually invigilate our shows and this means that we can see how people engage with our works, and there are always welcome surprises. Young people in particular like to explore the limits of interactive works and this has encouraged us to make our works as robust and as ‘open’ as possible; i.e. allowing multiple-user interaction and more than one way to engage.

What do you believe is the key element in creating a good living installations?

Rich content – both visual and conceptual - It is not necessary for the user to do anything (the works are visually and thematically rich) Examples of this in our work include human-animal hybrids and the theme ‘imagined future evolutions’ Unencumbered interaction – the audience does not have to wear specialist devices. (we sometimes like to use familiar tools, e.g. torches and winding handles. Working in this way means that it is not necessary to have instructions or specialist knowledge to participate. Focusing on the experience not the technology – encouraging audiences to ask ‘What am I encountering?’ not ‘How is this done?’

What is the most challenging part about creating interactive video installations?

The set-up – exhibition spaces can often present lots of challenges

What is the best part about working on computer?

Programming artworks The ease of sharing a project (facilitates collaboration) Working across platforms