The innovative visual production was designed and realised by Bartek Szlachcic, a graphic designer and electronic music producer whose interests lie in "visualizing sound with experimental tools" and who produces audiovisual works and musical collaborations as Odaibe.
My Name is Nobody's video notes tell us that the visuals were based on "already prepared photographs and various generative visual forms written in specially prepared software environment. In the spectacle, 4 screens, 4 projectors and a Kinect sensor were used. These formal and artistic treatments plus the contribution of 8 dancers intensify the atmosphere and build an extra-verbal albeit very substantive narration based on an eerie and psychedelic message."
Our introduction to Bartek's work came earlier this year with "Solaris" (below), made in the process of learning TouchDesigner and "messing around mainly with particles, forces, the animation editor and TOPs". Set to Cliff Martinez' famous (and many would venture dangerous-to-appropriate) score for Steven Soderberg's equally esteemed Solaris, Bartek's interpretation of the nebulous probing, undulating ocean/planet/entity did not land short of its mark and was well-received by the community.
We've been following Bartek's work with interest and appreciation and finally caught up with him after the premiere of My Name is Nobody to talk about the performance and to get some background on his experiences as an artist/designer and on working with TouchDesigner.
Bartek: TouchDesigner was used to generate realtime visuals with a Kinect input, to manage multiple video outputs, and to create a control surface for the whole performance. It helped me to integrate various techniques to realize the eclectic idea of the performance.
For mixing video samples I used Resolume Arena transferred to TouchDesigner with Spout. Some of the textures were animated by Asia Jackowska and Ania Mika, they helped a lot with organic video samples. There was really no animation editor or midi triggering used which could simplify my work a lot. Basically I was live VJing with realtime and pre-recorded content and a little dramatic sketch in mind. I like the risk of real live performance, it's more creative than scenic conformity!
I started with small sketches of ideas on how the human-digital interaction could look like. I've drawn since I can remember and drawing for me is always a starting point when I create animation. I sketch my ideas and try to express feelings and words with lines and shading. Even when I work with software I also draw and visualize ideas on paper. Raw notes are essential in this process.
A theme of anonymity inspired me to focus on integration/disintegration processes. I assembled few simple realtime graphic containers in TouchDesigner.
All of them used both Kinect and sound input to generate dynamic visuals that built intimate but powerful light environments for dance performance. One that I liked a lot was a reaction diffusion system that used only a few TOPs to produce organic looking feedbacks. Another patch was based on one of the great "Generative Design" noise examples but with Kinect input instead of Perlin noise. The Kinect ver.1 data was sent with Touch IN/OUT through LAN to the main computer and there was a slight latency, but it turned out that the audience could focus on body movements as well as their digital representations so it was great for us!
My cooperation with skilled dancer and choreographer Dawid Lorenc from the beginning was very good. We were open to each other's artistic ideas, tested all of them and chose the right ones. We were also responsible for most of the technical jobs on site, so together we set up all screens and projectors. Actually I think it was the hardest part of this performance as we had one week to do all the technical stuff as well as the actual rehearsals.
Blackmagic DeckLink cards were used to output video signals from the workstation. We used three main 4:3 screens with 5k Vivitek projectors and as things progressed, the dancers became a fourth dynamic screen.
This was nearly the most important technical and artistic decision for the performance because we could not get any additional lamps and without any light the human element would be lost in darkness. Performers became the visuals in virtual and tangible ways.
What I found surprising is that the black gum floor traditionally used by dancers became a good friend of visuals - Kinect's infrared light didn't reflect it back to the camera. Because of the black color it also didn't catch any projector light so for me it became a great material to work with.
My Name Is Nobody was a great lesson that proved to me how time and technical limitations can improve artistic ideas :)
Bartek graduated from the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw, Poland Faculty of Graphic Design & Media Arts and has an MFA degree in Multimedia Space Creation. He currently works as an interactive media designer in Audiovisual Technology Center in Wroclaw.
In December 2011 Bartek had a residency at Culture Lab, Newcastle University where he produced the extraordinary "Portrait of the Ghost Drummer" (above) using mo-cap technology to trace a drummer's movements which were graphically represented in 3D suspension.
Asked about what's next, Bartek tells us: "Many of the projects I hope to realise in the near future are connected with the place that I work filmstudioceta.pl. These include: interactive installation, kinetic mapping projection and "live audiovisual" workshops that I hope will evolve into a small experimental media lab. In CeTA we have a blue screen with motion control system. Another plan is to use this system to design and control audiovisual performances, I believe it's a quite promising idea and I'm looking forward to meeting artists interested in future collaborations!!"
Big thanks to Bartek for taking the time to chat with us and to our readers, we leave you with the wonderfully surreal entanglement of forms that is "Tama-nui-ki-te-rangi".
My Name is Nobody | Production Credits
Composition - Frano Durovic, mixed by Kostas Georgakopulos
Visual director - Bartek Szlachcic
Visual preparation - Joanna Jackowska, Anna Mika, Bartek Szlachcic
Choreography director - Dawid Lorenc
Choreography - Marta Dunajko, Maria Fekecz, Dawid Lorenc, Aleksandra Osowicz, Dorota Radwanska, Katarzyna Stasiak, Tomas Wortner
Choreographic cooperation - Karolina Brzek, Natalia Gabrielczyk, Magda Górnicka, Kasia Kamecka, Jan Nykiel, Magda Wodynska.
Costumes - Katarzyna Stasiak
Make-up - Ewa Lorenc
Sound postproduction: Kostas Georgakopulos, Bartek Szlachcic
Accoustics - Kamil Biedrzycki
Visual documentation - Ruben Crespo, Bartek Szlachcic Producer - Kostas Georgakopulos
Production - Avant Art oraz ISCM World Music Days (avantart.pl)
Co-production - Audiovisual Technology Center (filmstudioceta.pl)
An Avant Art Festival project as a part of World Music Days Wroclaw 2014
Projectors: 4 vivitek 5k
Resolution: 4096x720, 30-40fps
Software: TouchDesigner as a main controller synced with Resolume.