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Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Patrick

FITC Screens

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Earlier this week I was at Screens, a Toronto conference by FITC billed as “one of the only events in the world designed for developers of all platforms of screen content.”. I followed my usual conference technique of seeking out the off beat and out of the ordinary. That approach led me to the audience of a Ben Fry presentation at an FITC conference in 2007. That was my first exposure to Processing coding and the surrounding community of people doing creative things with tech which sent me off on my current trajectory.

Screens provided several great sessions in the hard to define creative tech vein that excites me. Greg Hermanovic and Markus Heckmann of Derivative gave a presentation on projection mapping flavoured work built with their incredible Touch Designer tool building tool.

Touch Designer is beyond my capabilities to clearly describe. But you can see it in action in some great projects to get a sense. Dev Harlan creates sculptural objects and augments them with mesmerising layers of light and shape.

Alva Noto used Touch Designer to create great visuals as part of his live show, Unitxt, where the interface used to control the visuals and the projected visuals themselves are the same thing.

Another fun presentation was from Peter Nitsch of Teehan+Lax on the first 6 months of their +labs project to explore and frame the “physical internet” within the lab. The labs have a three person team mandated to do pure exploration (no client work). The goal is to help the agency staff and clients understand what’s possible in the exciting world of proliferating modular and powerful technologies.

+labs are doing some cool things with RFID, NFC and AR and many other technological acronyms searching for the creative applications they deserve.

These presentations and a few other signals boosted sense of optimism I’ve been nurturing for a while. It’s about something happening in an unnamed and ill-defined endeavour to use technology in human-focused, physical and creative ways to do things we don’t yet understand. Or from a more cynical angle, quoting the agency Trapeze, “”digital”, for the foreseeable future, will be stuck between the nobility of innovation and the banality of advertising”. I’m hoping for a reasonable ratio of nobility to banality.

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