It all begun in 2009. After quitting my job as an engineer I moved to Madrid to study a Master in Motion Graphics while making my first experiences in the world of video art.
In 2010 I started up several collaborations with art organizations in Madrid and they proposed to me to shoot a dance performance by the choreographer Iratche Ansa.
The performance was going to be held at the Matadero in Madrid. From that recording I put together my first video dance “Comunicación Interpretación Automática” which had a very good reception.
A few months later I made my first dance pieces with live visuals with choreographer Barbara Fritsche.
Thanks to those projects I was able to work on the musical “Hoy No Me Puedo Levantar” in 2013. In 2014 I directed my first proper theatre show: “Girasomnis”.
I try to “connect” the visuals with the dancers. Sometimes I encourage the dancers to “connect” or follow my visuals.
In this project I also composed the music. This is very useful as I have better control of the creative process. With this project I tried to evoke feelings in the audience without words: just images, dance and instrumental music.
This quarantine caused an abrupt stop in my job, but also gave me time to start imagining something new.
The idea was born during the first week of confinement. At the start, It was simple: I just wanted to publish some of our best projects and make them public. But I also felt a need for a change.
The last 3 years I was quite disconnected from my artistic side due to working mostly on commercial projects.
I was just focusing on making money to pay my bills and trying to have a stable team for audiovisual production. The outbreak of the Covid-19 has been an absolute shift in our work. We started questioning the possibility of doing our shows as we did before.
So, in April I started to visualize and write a synopsis of this new project. I then decided to publish “Dance Mapping Virtual Tour 2020” as a memorandum of all these years of physical shows.
This new production is planned to be released in VR and physical 360 projection format in late 2021.
When I have the budget I can work with some powerful audiovisual freelancers from my network of collaborators. Failing that I work alone.
I also work with very talented dancers/choreographers from Barcelona. During the years they started to understand my ideas and transform them in beautiful choreographies.
I have mostly 2 ways of work. I compose a music draft and then I work on the visuals and choreography or vice versa: I make a draft of visual content with a draft choreography and I try to match the sounds and music.
Sometimes I give leeway to the dancer, so they can create their own choreography and then I create the visual content following their movements.
In the last few years I also worked with some talented musicians for a faster audiovisual production.
This was a concept from Roman Torre. In 2015 I shared a space with him and we collaborated together on a video mapping of a rotating stone. It was a nice project called Liquid Series.
In the video mapping area I also tried to develop innovative concepts, differing from the typical big projection on a building facade. 2 Years ago I started to develop the concept of “Holomapping”. I am planning to finish it next year as well.
Nowadays, it is possible to learn a lot following digital online courses, but it is always better if somebody guides you. As with everything in life the best way to learn is practice, making mistakes and improving.
Spain is not the best country for arts, I would say. As far as I know French artists or from other European countries have more grants and support from their governments, but everything is possible if you are passionate about your work.
It is interesting to notice the wide range of categories not necessarily related to the new media arts world. The inclusion of animation and manga highlights their wide recognition in the Japanese scene as special forms of art.
The Japan Media Arts Contest offers opportunities for young and emerging artists as well as recognized professionals making the audiovisual event a turning point every year for artistic innovation and excellency.
The Japan Media Arts Festival has been awarding prizes to outstanding artistic works since its establishment in 1997.
It is supported by The Agency of Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan to develop and promote the creation of Japanese and international media arts.
Through the annual Exhibition of Award-winning Works, the festival has offered the opportunity to the audience of directly appreciating these celebrated works.
The attendants are also invited to participate to the side events such as symposia, screenings and artists’ showcases.
In spring 2020 Kuflex studio began an experimental project Kusmos Live. The purpose of the experiment was to upgrade the Kusmos system in order to create a interactive online home shows.
In 2018-2019 the Russian audiovisual studio experimented with the innovative tool together with SILA SVETA studio on the Therr Maitz concert, Caprices Festival 2018, Nina Kraviz experimental performance at Coachella 2019.
Scene functions build a 3D model using the data provided by the Tracker and then we can layer all kinds of features with effects on the model and also transform and distort it according to the artistic concept. We also captured video from the laptop’s webcam and sometimes showed its picture. 3D scene acting as the artist surrounding, a set of virtual cameras for capturing from different viewpoints and visual effects were set up in advance in the Unreal Engine. Then the OBS program captures the video of the launched scene and sends it to the video streaming server.
During our second live experiment we tested some new features for the viewers interactive communication with the stream. While Leksha (Smolensk, Russia) was playing his ambient-set, a VJ (Moscow, Russia) was controlling visual effects with the use of commands via YouTube chat in real-time mode. Our team has implemented this function between the concerts and decided not to tell the viewers about it.
During the stream, noticing weird messages in the chat, some of the viewers started to realize that they could not only send a message to the chat but to even affect visualization. In the end the concert has turned into a digital quest. Some viewers picked up effect control by sending particular commands to the chat. We have yet to comprehend how to develop this function in the future.
KUFLEX: Kusmos is a universal software tool, with the possibility of variability of visual and interactive solutions. As a rule, our team creates a virtual stage specifically for the performance of the musician. Of course, we want to upgrade the program creating a database with different scenes, effects. In this case, the user will be able to construct the scene himself and combine the effects for his live/stream.
KUFLEX: Regarding Kusmos Live project, the Kuflex team is collaborating with various musicians. We wanted to support the performers. So this approach determined the emphasis on the figure of the musician on the virtual stage, under whose musical personality, sound we come up with a visual solution. We do not just shoot a video with a musician, as is often done in broadcasts, but create a digital avatar that changes depending on the script, music and VJ control.
We try to achieve the effect of real interaction with the viewer as well. Our team is developing a function of interaction through chat – viewers’ comments fall into the scene, they can affect the content through certain chat commands. But Kusmos can be used by artists of other genres. In the near future we want to try to create a dance performance. Now we are discussing this idea with one Russian choreographer.
Technically, the performer will find himself in different areas of camera scanning, on the screen we will observe how his digital avatar changes. Again, it will all be like shooting a movie in one shot and in real time!
We intentionally did not talk about this function in advance to get the quest. As a result, some viewers guessed and began to help in managing the scene. We explore different possibilities about other ways of interaction.
In the future we want to create a client application for connecting to the broadcast via a mobile phone, desktop PC screen or VR. We intend to develop Kusmos as an art tool. Our team believes in a power of collective interaction. We want to give a palette of visual solutions, effects. Let’s all together create beauty here and now! This idea is a sincere inspiration for us.
We wrote a special function for our software that receives data from chat on YouTube using the Google API. We came up with several commands, for example: cam1, cam2, skin1, skin2, electric noise, lasers and the like. And when someone in the chat wrote one of these words, then a certain visual effect or a corresponding camera was included in our program.
In general, we have an idea to expand the number of commands and their appearance, so that it looks more like live coding. For example, add numerical arguments to the commands, which will additionally specify the parameters of a particular visual effect.
KUFLEX: Yes, this is the main object of research for us. Usually, a limited number of people can come to the offline exhibition. So we want to overcome any space frames. With Kusmos we don’t have any restrictions online! We can find ourselves in amazing digital worlds that are impossible in the physical world.
Now that Kuflex Lab and its creation Kusmos entered our radar we will most definitely keep following their progression, as always supporting innovation and creativity in the audiovisual art world.
Memo Akten describes himself as:
“an artist and researcher from Istanbul, Turkey. He works with emerging technologies as both a medium and subject matter, investigating their impact on society and culture – with a specific interest in the collisions between nature, science, technology, ethics, ritual and religion.”
His work goes much further your average visual artist, as he specialises in Artificial Intelligence, works with algorithms and large-scale responsive installations with image, sound and light. In AV culture’s layman terms he’s an audiovisual jack-of-all-trades and a true techy, oh and he’s studying for a PhD in AI as if that wasn’t enough. Here you can see a selection of his work in the very accurately named video, ‘Selection of work in 3 minutes’ (2017).
Akten received the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica – the most prestigious award in Media Art – for his work ‘Forms’ in 2013. He has exhibited and performed internationally at exhibitions including The Grand Palais’s “Artistes & Robots” in 2018 (Paris FR), The Barbican’s “More than human” in 2017 (London UK) and the Victoria & Albert Museum’s landmark “Decode” exhibition in 2009 (London UK). He has shown work at venues such as the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Moscow RU), Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai CN), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo JP), Royal Opera House (London UK), Lisbon Architecture Triennale (Lisbon PT), Itaú Cultural (Sao Paulo BR) and many others.
He has collaborated with celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz, U2, Depeche Mode and Professor Richard Dawkins, and brands including Google, Twitter, Deutsche Bank, Coca Cola and Sony PlayStation. Akten’s work is in numerous public and private collections around the world.
Alongside his practice, Akten is currently working towards a PhD at Goldsmiths University of London in artificial intelligence and expressive human-machine interaction, to deepen collaborative creativity between humans and machines and augment human creative expression. Fascinated by trying to understand the world and human nature, he draws inspiration from fields such as physics, molecular & evolutionary biology, ecology, abiogenesis, neuroscience, anthropology, sociology and philosophy.
Memo hasn’t just emerged on the scene by any means. In 2007 Akten founded The Mega Super Awesome Visuals Company (MSA Visuals), an art and tech creative studio. For some of those who have been following audiovisual culture since before even Audiovisual City was born, then they’ll recognise the name Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) – the evolution of MSA Visuals in 2011. In more recent years and a lot of success, Akten is now focusing on his own work and research, though his contribution to audiovisual culture and performance, must not go unmentioned. I strongly recommend that you explore his exceptionally wide and varied body of artwork and scientific investigations, as it takes you on a socia cultural journey that goes beyond audiovisual art.BUY US A COFFEE?
A small team creates magic installations and art projects, exploring mechanisms of interaction and inter-influence of inter-subjective reality and its digital projection.
Interacting with constantly changing projection, the viewer enters meditative state, turns from a passive observer into a co-creator. Thus, in “Symbiosis” installation the viewer literally merges with the alien creature, becoming a digital avatar that can be controlled by him or her.
Installations by Kuflex have been featured in many Russian and foreign exhibitions, festivals, museums, science and education centers in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Tyumen, Abrau-Dyurso, Netanya (Israel), Antalya (Turkey), Athens (Greece, ADAF), Las-Vegas (USA, CES), Beijing (China,China Science and Technology Museum), Manila (Philippines) and others.