By 2020, it’s projected that 40% of the population will be working on a freelance basis, notes Julia Kaganskiy, director of NEW INC. Based out of New York City’s New Museum, NEW INC is the first museum-led project incubator, borne out of this fundamental shift in the workforce.
Launched in September 2014, NEW INC is a not-for-profit platform that’s part art residency, part research center, part professional-development center, part co-working space — and home to 100 selected artists, designers, and technologists who work there over the course of 12 months.
“We’ve convened a community that’s exploring bold, new, exciting, and sometimes critical ideas at the intersection of culture and technology,” says Kaganskiy. “Together we’re investigating what kinds of models will support this work.”
This weekend, NEW INC held its first Demo Day, during which 18 full- and part-time members presented the projects they’ve been working on. In addition to the five unique innovations below, there were several initiatives that caught our attention: an artist attempting to change the way we think about food through our senses (e.g., a popsicle microphone that produces sound when licked); a project about new innovations in plant-based technologies (think: compostable sneakers); soft sensors for garments to track bodily functions; and a project that will provide a new mechanism by which to validate copyright and develop a provenance for art works and digital media assets.
Read on to discover five more individuals and collectives whose innovations may forever change our perception of technology-driven art.
Carlo Van de Roer
“I’m interested in what ability a photograph has to represent a person or a subject or space or time,” says Van de Roer of his work, which has included the “Portrait Machine” series for which he photographed subjects including Miranda July and Shutterstock’s own Jon Feinstein with a Polaroid aura camera. During his time at NEW INC, he developed his Satellite Lab, using a high-speed camera to “freeze a single moment in time, but be able to [simultaneously] move light sources around in that frozen moment.” His new technology enables a light source to move around at 10,000 feet per second, effectively resembling CGI, but all done in-camera.
Aside from unleashing its newest invention during Demo Day, the programmable Disco Dog LED pet vest, New York and Tokyo-based creative lab Party has been at work on various intriguing projects, including extracting the circular data from one of the most powerful telescopes in the world — the Alma telescope in Chile — to create a music-box instrument that plays the melody of a dying star 950 light years away.
Counter-surveillance artist Adam Harvey has taken the issue of privacy in the Digital Age to another level. Armed with the idea that we should define “a new aesthetic and new understanding for privacy,” he identified the principles of genetic algorithms used in facial-recognition software and drones to create a line of fashion accessories designed to camouflage the wearer from digital detection. He says activists, among others, have already begun wearing his designs.
Interested in “decoding” her emotions, New York-based performance artist Lisa Park has developed an art piece that uses various biofeedback technologies to monitor her brain waves as she experiences emotions, then creates vibrational patterns in water. The resulting performances, “Eunoia” and “Eunoia II,” use strategically placed speakers with metal plates filled with water that vibrate at different levels and produce different sounds based on her emotional state during a live meditation. The more frustrated she is during a performance, the louder it gets.
Calling itself an “experience lab,” New York and Barcelona-based Odd Division has created various projects at the center of art and design, including “Heart Bot” — a drawing machine controlled by the heart rate of the participant. At NEW INC, Odd Division has been working on a new project using a form of immersive filmmaking, titled “Witness.” The project uses data pulled from open-source street maps to create an “augmented virtuality” for the participant. Here, people can view a moment in time happening in 3D, thereby becoming a witness to an event.