Curating Innovation

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Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
Some of the most interesting curators today, in my opinion, are conference organizers.

Dave Schroeder, the founder of the Flashbelt conference in Minneapolis, is one of them.

It's a difficult job.

You have to know what's new all the time.

You have to be able to sense who has something interesting to say and whether they are good enough storytellers to make it an engaging talk.

You have to be charming enough to convince an eclectic group of speakers to come to random cities on random days of the year and talk about the things they love.

You have to convince people in the community that the conference is worthwhile enough to pay for (and travel for) in times of a recession.

And you have to put on great parties.

I was lucky enough to be a part of Flashbelt this year. Flashbelt is a conference about and for media artists, interactive designers and web programmers, and Dave curated an amazing experience. Unfortunately, I didn't get to attend the whole event, but wanted to share with you just a few little highlights. They're not world-changing but they made me think or laugh or play.

I Am A Chain Reaction from Presstube on Vimeo.

James Paterson, in collaboration with Amit Pitaru and Dana Gingras, recently completed a project that merges performing arts, animation and projection in the most fantastical of ways. Make sure to see the end of the film – it's absolutely stunning.

During his presentation, Seb Lee-Delisle created a collaborative game that transformed the lecture hall into a virtual playground. He projected a playing field on the screen and distributed light sticks to everyone. The room was divided in two and each of the two groups used the collective movement of their light sticks to play virtual football.

Everyone who believes that the crowds are dumb has something to learn from Seb's interactive platform.

A fun little installation in the lobby of the hotel caught everyone's attention. Little projected animated creatures appeared to fall from the ceiling, hit the edges of the mirror frame and slide against its sides. A lovely application of seamless integration of the virtual and the physical.

Ali Momeni and his group of students from the Department of Art and Collaborative Arts Program (COLA) at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis animated the evening party. They hijacked the cityscape to create architecturally-scaled interactive projections. Using an iPhone app we could control the animation on an x, y and z axis: one to scrub through the timeline of animation, another axis allowed us to control the movement of the animation across the buildings and a third parameter enabled us to control the scale of the projection.

The most poetic of their installations included a puppeteer and an engineer turned performance artist. A giant jar was projected on the wall and a man appeared with a broomstick through the crowd. With a live DJ in the background, an amazing puppet master brought human-scaled mosquitoes to life using a simple light box and shadows, as we observed the broomstick man and the mosquitoes engage in a most stunning battle dance.


Tali Krakowsky, Director of Experience Design, heads a think tank at WET. Working closely with design, research and production, she focuses on developing new ideas, technologies and business opportunities for the short- and long-term future of the firm.
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