Company Post

Other Robots Duo from Ghent Design the First TouchDesigner T-Shirt

Other Robots is an artistic collaboration between musician/sculptor Maarten Serpentier and video artist/graphic designer Liselotte Van Daele.
The duo bring sculpture, graphics, music and video together to create a rich and multi-layered visual experience bridging the "so-called difference between fine and applied arts, high and low arts, etc." We were intrigued about how TouchDesigner fit into their workflow "opening a whole new world and making an important connection between all our practices."

With great appreciation for their aesthetic and processes: imagery, pattern, texture, the cool 'punkiness' for lack of better term, we proposed they design our first TouchDesigner t-shirt in time for Mutek Montreal. To our delight they enthusiastically agreed and we are very happy that people will be looking so good sporting these at the festival!! We had a very productive and fun long-distance chat over the past weeks and this is what came about...

Other Robots: The first time we started working together was for our graduation show in 2014. We were both studying at the royal art academy (KASK) in Ghent.

Maarten did a master in fine arts, sculpting and Liselotte did Graphics and print. We were, apart from each other, scanning the boundaries of our medium, in search for connection to other art forms and other approaches to make and present art.

We graduated the same year and decided to make our final work together. We tried to bring sculpture, graphics, music and video together in one piece. A visual experience that bridges the so-called difference between fine and applied arts, high and low arts, etc. From that collaboration 'Other robots' emerged.

We started combining video footage with music for performances and installations, and due to this we were in search of better AV software/tools. We were inspired when we saw Lakker and their video work. We decided to ask them with which software they work, and to our surprise they replied super fast and told us they work with TouchDesigner. We downloaded the program and started to experiment with 'digital sculptures', interactive LED and video, Kinect and so on.

It opened a whole new world and made an important connection between all our practices. We designed a live video environment in TouchDesigner that operates in such a way that the live video and music instinctively interact. It offered the possibility to replace the physical studio and to experiment with sculpture in a virtual environment. Because of this 'virtual' aspect a fast exchange of ideas and a real remediation became possible.

This workflow has triggered an ongoing search that causes our two workstations to flow together in a natural way. It evokes a constant interaction that's inspiring for both of us and launches new things. These are not limited to AV but also involve installation, graphic design, shirt and poster design.

For the design of the TouchDesigner t-shirt we started from our digital library which consists graphical forms and virtual objects that come from digitized woodcuts, screen prints and collages.

These were imported into TouchDesigner to create a 3D composition and apply textures created from video footage. We exported 'stills' from different angles and from there on, with a combination of different halftone and dithering, we started the prepress of the final design.

Parts of sculptures, woodcuts, collages are being isolated from their constellation.They transform into a virtual environment, rebuilt digitally. Through TouchDesigner it becomes very easy to 'manipulate' the sculptural shapes intuitively without knowing where it will bring you. Once they are digitized, it becomes easy to test out a lot of compositions, textures and process methods. In a playful way it is possible to experiment with a lot of different ideas quickly.

The process for the design was in this case straightforward. With this project we were mainly focussing on composition, structure and texture in TouchDesigner. We wanted a really strong and readable composition, where all the different components are functioning together. On one hand you have a very clear sculptural object/shape but at the same time it is graphical because of its 2D origin.

The texturing is a result of experimentation with the Texture SOP in combination with (analogue) video footage. These were rendered and recomposed. So one layer consists of many traces of video-in and different textures and Phong settings.

We export them in a variety of ways, from various angles and lightning, and then again re-compose in graphical software. A sorting process happens here, the image is exported with different halftone and dithering solutions and then all parts are put together in a final piece.

HUGE thanks to Liselotte and Maarten for their fantastic work and to all our MUTEK MONTREAL friends, visit us Wednesday August 23 17:00 - 19:00 at our TouchDesigner Meetup following our workshop and pick up a shirt or a bag and look good with us! Happy Hour meetup Wednesday .

*UPDATE*: HOT OFF THE PRESS (literally!) TouchDesigner t-shirts are now available to order directly from Other Robots. Order directly from their Bandcamp and they will be expertly screened for you by Liselotte van Daele and shipped to you directly. Recommend of course!