Our interview section always brings us to persons with great creativity, a specific vision of the world and unsuspected technology.
Today we are very proud to announce the work of Caen Botto and Marta Rupérez, founders of Nourathar Art & Technology Studio. Nourathar is an Ibizan studio that has 2 main activities: the creation of unique pieces of digital art for museums and collectors and also the experiences that explore the potential of emerging technologies. For today’s interview we will focus on this second part.
1- Can you explain what are considered emerging technologies today?
We work with a wide range of technologies, which can be basically organized into three large groups: The first would be data capture technologies; that is, everything that allows us to enter information into a system, may it be sensors, microphones, controllers or communication protocols. The second group would be data representation technologies, which include everything that allows us to generate signals out of the system, be they graphics, sounds, control signals for lighting, motors, etc. In the center there would be a third group made up of technologies that allow us to interpret, make decisions and process the input information to determine the output of the system. To mention an example in relation to the latter, at the moment we are experimenting with machine learning technologies – a branch of artificial intelligence – at first in music applications, and then to apply them to the gestural interpretation of movement.
In our last exhibition, Lumnorama; synesthetic devices and sensitive spaces (Sept-Nov, 2019, Sa Nostra Sala, Ibiza) we had the opportunity to integrate several of these technologies into a series of installations that combine interaction and augmented reality. Each of them reacts to a different sensory stimulus – presence, movement, sound – with projections generated in real time, mapped on different surfaces and, in some cases, with audio.
Synestetrum (2017), Augmented Reality light organ, built from a modified vintage keyboard (1960s).
2- Your 2 profiles, music therapist and art historian complement your creative process, can you comment on how you have forged your way to technological exploration and consequently programming?
M. (Marta Rupérez): I consider that in art history we study testimonies that reflect the spirit of different eras. Therefore, at a time like the present, in which technology has entered all areas of our existence (social, labor, economic, etc.), it is logical that it is also at the base of contemporary artistic creation.
I became interested in contemporary art and the possibilities of technology towards the end of my degree (UAM ’99). I had the opportunity to explore, shape and focus this interest on the creative potential of technology during the masters degree (Visual Arts Administration, ’03.Fullbright), as NYU offered several courses offered by digital creation professionals of the moment. I dedicated my master’s thesis to research the conservation of net.Art. On the other hand, New York is a very important center for international contemporary creation, so the city itself was essential in my formation.
From that time until now I have continued to be trained in work contexts or on my own, from necessities – certain projects require learning new techniques or tools – and from interest in a field that is constantly being renewed.
C. (Caen Botto): Our activity requires a good command of both the visual and sound fields, their relation to movement and space, and the systems with which we carry out these tasks, which makes it a very field Comprehensive multi-disciplinary knowledge.
After completing Music Therapy at USAL (Arg.), I also studied Ethnomusicology (Manuel de Falla Conservatory, Arg.) And Composition with Electroacoustic Media at UNQ (Arg.).
Since in my time there were no university degrees in which you can find study programs that unify this body of knowledge, I have continued to study and train myself independently in various topics: perception theory, generative processes, interaction programming, HCI, etc.
3- You have chosen Ibiza as a place of residence, what are the factors that have positioned Ibiza as a point of reference in creating trends?
Historically, Ibiza has attracted artists and intellectuals ranging from Rafael Albertí to Orson Welles, through to Walter Benjamin. Today the island is home to a large international community that lives on the island year round. There is a constant movement of musicians, producers or creatives, which makes it a great showcase abroad.
In relation to our work on the island, on the one hand we are connected with the artist community, through initiatives such as Núcleo or Ibiza Art Union, associations that seek to create networks and common spaces. On the other hand, we are part of the “guild” of the visualists, who have a very active network in Ibiza. This network is largely possible thanks to the work of coordination, training and dissemination of audiovisual creation carried out by Jesús de las Heras and the rest of the podcast team, Visuals for the Masses.
Our activities – workshops, exhibitions, presentations – seek to encourage cooperation between technological research and creative methodology. Through these same activities we have contacted other creatives interested in exploring this interdisciplinary field; with which, gradually, a third group is consolidating at the intersection of art with technology.
Finally, there are a series of factors that have to do with the island, which have determined our recent production of audiovisual works. Most of our previous works were large interactive installations, more appropriate for cultural centers than for galleries or private collectors. In Ibiza we had the opportunity to get in touch with the world of commercial galleries. This, together with the problem of lack of space – which we share with various artists on the island – is at the base of the development of smaller scale pieces, suitable for the international private collector visiting the island.
4- How can an artistic installation be interactive? What does it mean for the observer?
The interaction blurs the separation between the work, the audience and the artist. Here the “spectator” becomes a user, his actions complete the work. It is impossible to appreciate an interactive piece without the presence of the user who completes it.
In our work we use sensors, microphones, motion capture systems (Leap Motion, Kinect) or our own developments to create audiovisual installations that invite the public to explore the connections between the spectra of light, color and sound. The movement of the body and the physical experience of the visitor with these works determine their appearance and behavior. In this context, the audience ceases to be a (passive) observer to become an active and necessary participant in completing the artwork. In this way, the message of art is no longer uni-directional. In our work we do not seek to present a closed and finished work, but rather a space, full of possibilities, in which the individual experience itself, with its innumerable results and possible readings, defines the work.
This is what we mean when we talk about “creating experiences”. Any experience is always more complete if it is perceived by several senses at the same time and if it requires some effort on the part of the audience. Technology offers us the possibility of generating synesthetic experiences that transform the gallery into a sensitive space, an audiovisual instrument with an invisible interface that allows an intuitive experience of the work.
Complete article available in spanish and catalan.