Creators Project: In the loading bay, Interpol deliver
The live blogging has now concluded.
7. 00:40 – MIA
Just down from the Interpol post in time to see MIA close her set. It was everything you’d expect; multi-instrumental, a little crazy, and very loud. As she began the last song, 2008’s sleeper hit Paper Planes, it was clear the music has the same effect in Chelsea, New York that it has in the hipster dives of East London; as the chorus broke, the crowd threw themselves to the front as the rainbow-haired diva cast off her recent New York Times-baiting for some more conventional fun.
6. 23:15 – In the loading bay, Interpol deliver
I never saw Oasis in Manchester, nor The Clash in London. But I have just seen Interpol in New York, and it’s an experience that won’t be forgotten any time soon; rattling through a set which took in material from their forthcoming self-titled album right back to “Turn on the Bright Lights”, it was hard to fault the band for performance. There were fan favourites like “Evil” as well as lesser known numbers, and the venueful of devotees swayed to the sound of a group that could only be performing on home soil. As Julia Kaganskiy, another of the event bloggers noted, with Laser Tag going on at the same time (and the extreme heat) it was difficult to know what to pay attention to. But Interpol edged it, and for that alone they deserved the plentiful applause they received. And a fantastic debut for the line-up featuring David Pajo on bass and Brandon Curtic on keyboard.
Update: NME are listing the set as
‘Say Hello To The Angels’
‘Not Even Jail’
5. 18.45 – ‘Loosening the juice’: an experiment featuring Mark
“Bigger than Gaga” is a request that would strike fear into the heart of any ordinary music producer, but when it was put
Mark Ronson as the challenge for the just-finished pop-anthem panel he didn’t bat an eyelid. The aim was to record and release a pop song in 60 minutes with the assistance of the Creators Project audience, and it just about came off. With the production talents of Sam Spiegel of NASA on Pro Tools duties , and Vice’s Eddy Moretti marshalling the chaos into something manageable, there was rapping, singing and screaming over a background of theremin, guitar, Prophet 08 and drum samples; repeated requests for ‘more horns’ drew a wry smile from Ronson, whose new album ‘Record Collection’ apparently (possibly sulkily) has no horns on it at all. The post title’s inspiration, “Loosen the juice”, was something else shouted frequently by the crowd when asked for suggestions.
There were points, of course, when the work-in-progress got a bit messy. But it was pinned down by a solid bassline (Ronson to thank for that) and a catchy vocal hook, sung by a girl from the audience called Tiffany, who Vice have interviewed (video below). “We’re throwing this line in real-time”, Moretti shouted grandiosely as the keyboard was being recorded, “whatever the fuck that means”. The song (I’m guessing it’s going to be called “Can’t delay the party”), will be able to download from the Creators Project site (where you can also follow their live coverage) from next week.
4. 1645 – John Powderly: Our head is in the toilet of the universe
Fantastically bipolar speech from John Powderly at the Open Source panel talk which is underway now. The man who helped develop the LED throwie and Laser tag certainly isn’t what you’d call an optimist (“Our head is in the toilet of the universe” is a sample quote), but there’s clearly a latent sentimentality just fighting to get out; his concluding example, of Eyewriter, the eye-tracking software which has helped paralysed graffiti artist Tony Quan (picture right) express himself, was a touching moment in an otherwise darkly comic talk. Full details here.
Unbothered by the USA – Ghana score (I’ve seen barely a mention of the World Cup since I arrived yesterday), the eighth floor studio was packed for “I’m here” a new short film by veteran director Spike Jonze, and his first since “Where the wild things are”. It’s hard to overestimate how well the film, about a love affair between two robots, fits today’s setting; since we’re at an event about the crossover between art and technology, screening a short about robots who’ve become living, sentient beings and their struggle to fit into a world which belongs to their fleshy cousins (us) was pretty neat.
The title itself fairly elegantly sums up the male robot protagonist Sheldon’s journey through the film; meeting the (robot) girl of his dreams and growing close, it’s in part a story about the challenges of being a second-class citizen. (“You can’t drive a car!”, rails an old lady to Sheldon’s love interest as she pulls up at his bus stop at their first meeting).
With the same slightly detached viewpoint as “Being John Malkovich”, there’s laudable economy in the use of settings and landscape to portray emotional movements that in a feature would be teased out over a longer period (the film’s just 30 minutes long). When Jonze needs to show the humanity of his lead characters, for example, he puts them skipping through a forest, holding hands and jumping out from behind trees; on one level, it’s the juxtaposition that captures our imagination (if we were watching a human couple in such a hackneyed display of affection we’d be forgiven for screaming cliché), and on another it’s the fact that they’re surrounded by nature that makes them natural.
At its heart though is a bitter irony, as we watch Sheldon fall head over heels in love with a robot girl so clumsy that she almost routinely loses parts of her mechanical anatomy. Each time (and we’re getting deep into spoiler territory here), Sheldon proffers one of his own limbs as a replacement, until in the final instance we watch his dash to a hospital to see his girlfriend in two pieces on a surgical table, with the prospects looking bleak. You’ll have to watch the film to find out the rest, although I suspect no home viewing will quite capture the effect achieved at the Creators Project; as the film drew to a close the screen lifted up to reveal the soundtrack band, fronted by Aska Matsumiya, playing the outro music live, to a brief gasp from the assembled audience. It was very cool, and the song, “There are many of us”, is dark and haunting in a way that fits the film perfectly.
2. 13:30 – Takeshi Murata, Mark Essen and MOR Architects
While things are teetering very elegantly on the verge of pandemonium here, everything is starting to come together really nicely. I’ve had my first glance of the exhibits and they’re really impressive and work fantastically well with the space – the picture to the right is “Melter 2″ by Chicago-born artist Takeshi Murata, a sprawling psychedelic explosion of bright colours which captures the mood of the chaos here better than anything I could write. Above is a very brief video of “Rainbow Vomit” by MOS Architects, which is showing in the same space – apologies for the quality; sadly it’s not the first or last you’ll see of my phone’s awful video-camera as my other camera’s chosen this, of all moments, to give up the ghost.
I caught a very brief word with Mark Essen too, who’s doing some last minute tweaks to the display of his NES-controlled exhibits, which looks just as perfectly lo-fi as in the Creators Project video below.
Glorious chaos at Milk Studios hours before the opening of the Creators Project. If the crowds at Glastonbury this weekend think they’ve got it hot, they should try New York; in 32 degree heat, a chain of very calm-looking people have joined hands on the converted high-line, watched from above by a very frantic crowd of Vice bloggers and lost security guards on the eighth floor, with today’s event is due to begin in less than an hour.
Downstairs on the second floor, you can catch a glimpse of what’s coming next; computer art simulations are projected onto the warehouse walls, a laptop with two old NES controllers connected to it (this, possibly) sits in the hallway, and it sounds like Interpol are soundchecking their later set. Knowing who to interview at a Vice event is a bigger challenge than at your average gig; everyone, from the lowly interns to the biggest stars, looks so impeccably hip that it’s hard to tell them apart without a very strong prior impression of who’s who. It doesn’t help that noone looks like they’re from outside the 18-22 age bracket that comprises the counter-cultural elite from which both today’s artists and journalists are drawn. I am the sore thumb exception.
For now though, increasingly tense efforts to procure the right wristbands, print off timetables and check everyone has arrived are taking precedence over the art; over the next few hours it’s set to move centre-stage as the guests arrive and everything kicks off properly. I’ll be updating through the day with more posts, and I’ve embedded my tweets below so there should always be a fresh(ish) stream of information.
The Creators Project, a collaborative project between VICE and Intel, starts it’s five-city tour in New York on 26 June. The London event is on 17 July and features live music by Mark Ronson, Kele (Bloc Party), Filthy Dukes, Hudson Mohawke, and more. It also includes interactive art installations by UVA & Radical Friend, amongst many others. Registration for free attendance opens 28 June at http://TheCreatorsProject.com. It will be followed by Sao Paolo (14 Aug), Seoul (28 Aug) and Beijing (17 – 19 Sept).
Tagged in: Creators Project, mark essen, new york, spike jonze
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