Lighting Design and Light Art Magazine Image    Interview with WHITEvoid 6 Atom

We interviewed Christopher Bauder, a creative director of interactive art design studio WHITEvoid, based in Berlin. An inspiring theme for our summer issue.

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1. Tell us a bit about WHITEvoid

WHITEvoid was founded in 2003 while we were still students at the university of Berlin. We rented a little studio space together and started doing little jobs on the side. We were studying interaction design, new media art, filmmaking and video, so what we do at WHITEvoid mixes really nicely into our interests.

2. And what is your background?

I studied in the Design department at the University of the arts in Berlin in the so called ‘Digital class’ where we were dealing with interaction design and new media art.

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3. WHITEvoid works in such a wide variety of fields. How do you as a team approach these projects which need so many different areas of expertise?

Partly it is because of the variety of my personal interests and of the people I work with. That’s what makes up this huge portfolio of projects that touch 2D screen design, 3D design, interaction design, to spatial and light installations and so on. We also try to do different things and not to repeat the same type of projects too often.The common theme of our projects though is that they are all connected to a computer in some way. We are always doing a mix of software and hardware.

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4. In the areas you are active in we’ve seen a very fast development of technology in the last couple of years. How did the recent developments of lighting, lighting control, interaction technology and similar, affect your work?

Certainly, technology is a very important factor that is developing and pushing our work forward, because it is changing all the time and is changing very fast. For example, if I think of what software and hardware we used when I was studying, it is clear that things changed tremendously. You have to evolve and adapt all the time . But on the other hand, I never wanted to just follow the trend. For example, a couple of years back multi touch screen was really popular, then it was augmented reality, now it is Kinect then it will probably be Google Glass and so on. Technology is developing so rapidly that it is too easy to just jump from one fashionable thing to the next, even if the content of your work doesn’t require it. So of course, I am following new trends in technology, but I wouldn’t call myself an early adopter. I prefer to analyse the technology as it appears and use it only when I see that it can add to the concept of the artwork. Because a lot of times we tend to use the technology just because it is there and not because it adds any value.

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5. Could you perhaps tell us a bit more about the Fluidic project?

The Fluidic project evolved from a very simple request from Hyundai last year. The design of all of their cars is based on one guiding principle, which is called ’sculpture in motion’. The idea behind it is that the car should look like it is in motion even if it is still and to achieve that they use a lot of natural phenomenon as inspiration such as wind, waves, the shape of sand dunes and so on. They wanted to communicate this philosophy to their customers and they asked us if we could transform it into an artwork. So the challenge was how to transform this abstract idea of ’sculpture in motion’ into something tangible and how can we enable the people to experience and interact with it. It was clear quite early in the process that we didn’t want to do a projection or anything like that. We wanted to create something really physical and of course the idea of 3D pixels or voxels came to mind.

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So we created a cloud of 6 by 3 meters made of 12,000 little balls, which were arranged in a very natural-looking pattern. Around them we had 8 laser projectors and each ball could be lit by one of the projectors. This allowed us to create 3D graphics and animations in the cloud. We also used Kinect cameras all around the installation so we knew the location of people and also their gestures. This allowed them to control the content displayed in the cloud. There were 5 pre-programmed scenes in the show, but within these scenes the people could always interact with the installation.The installation was exhibited in Milan Design week in April 2013 for the first time and I believe it was really successful in terms of communicating the philosophy of Hyundai and also creating a Wow! effect.

Thanks Christopher! It was great talking to you.

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