The next step in football combines innovative design and technology
by Cool Hunting Video in Design on 12 March 2014
Not long ago, Nike invited us to Barcelona, Spain for the unveiling of their latest shoes, which are yet another step forward in the revolutionizing of football boots. The Magista are the brand's first Flyknit football boots, designed in conjunction with athletes to create a extremely lightweight and high-performance shoes. We had the chance to speak with Martin Lotti—Nike's Creative Director of Global Football—about the brand's design process, changes in the sport and how they are reflected in the Magista.
The SXSW Interactive installation that allows users to explore alien worlds through Kinect
by Graham Hiemstra in Tech on 12 March 2014
While a good majority of panels and projects at this year's SXSW Interactive centered around the NSA and government surveillance, interactive installation StreamMeUp offered a lighthearted alternative to the discussion on where advancements in technology can lead us as a society. Created in collaboration between Microsoft Studio and an impressive team lead by artist and acting Technical Director James George—with art direction and design by Something Savage studio—the unbranded science fiction–inspired installation was a response to what was essentially an emerging technology-based art commission. With the help of four Kinects and a virtual reality headset, conference goers were given the opportunity to see a digital transmission of themselves on a series of far off planets. "It's like a Vine, for aliens," joked George.
Four calibrated Canon 5D Mark III cameras paired with Kinect sensors would capture six seconds of action by the individual or group of participants. You then watch as your virtual self is teleported off the capture space ship screen. Next, you're physically led to a seated area where an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset allows you to visually explore three alien environments and interact with local lifeforms. The use of team members as guides helps lessen any intimidation created by the technology while also strengthening the narrative and storytelling. Monitors display a single view of what is displayed in the two-eyed Oculus, giving spectators a direct view at what each participant sees.
"The way we interact with images is changing. And I want that change to really ignite the imagination and enable people to be more creative." -James George
"This type of emerging technology—advanced virtual reality, 3D scanners—are inevitably becoming an everyday part of our experience in the same way that cellphone cameras have become part of our experience. There's a whole dialogue around surveillance and future camera technology that's very dystopian. And I think that's a really important conversation, but the way I like to contribute to that is through making things that are playful and fun and taking the conversation in a different direction," explains George of his inspiration and intention. "I know it as a fact that the way we interact with images is changing. And I want that change to really ignite the imagination and enable people to be more creative. So something like this is an opportunity to do that. If we focus on the negativity that will manifest itself—it's about imagining the future we want to be in.
"I want to be like a figure painter with code." -James George
"I'm all about mixing generative art and code with figurative work," says George. "I want to be like a figure painter with code. That's why a 3D scanner to me is really powerful, because it turns people into data that I can manipulate." By tweaking the code, George is able to create an abstract yet highly expressive representation of the human form. George achieved the effect by writing all the camera calibration and code in openFrameworks, which allowed him to take advantage of the new open source KinectCommonBridge library he helped develop while serving as the first artist-in-residence at Microsoft Research.
Something Savage studio used skyboxes to turn digitally painted panoramic landscapes into 3D worlds. On each world, a 3D character was created to add to the experience. These were animated by Patrick Clarke in Maya to compliment the low-res body scans and limited resolution of the Oculus Rift, helping to create a cohesive aesthetic throughout each world.
Images courtesy of Something Savage
The Icelandic musician discusses taking his sound from album to performance
by David Graver in Culture on 12 March 2014
We've come to expect nothing short of wonderment from the Icelandic music that reaches global airwaves—expressive and exploratory, but with recognizable pop tinges. Sin Fang delivers all of the above and his 2013 album Flowers was one of the year's best. It's a beautiful collection of tracks, occasionally soaring in an ethereal soundscape, sometimes jangling around with rock sensibilities, but always grounded with thoughtful lyricism. It's catchy and sweet, but powerful. There's an optimism present that illuminates folk undertones and electronic flourishes—as the genre is frequently referred to as "folktronica." It's the third album from Sindri Már Sigfússon, the band's sole member, and his most polished to date.
With "Flowers," Sigfússon partnered with producer Alex Somers, who has worked on albums from Sigur Rós and their frontman Jónsi, and recorded it in Jónsi's home studio. These influences are present in the music with occasional whimsy; grace notes from more obscure instruments and vibrant orchestration. When listening to the studio recordings, the album begs the question: how will this translate to live performance? We had an opportunity to see Sin Fang perform at NYC's The Standard East Village with only a series of electronic devices as his backing band, and to speak with him about his work and the transition from album to live audience.
How do you feel your music fits into the Icelandic music community?
In Iceland, you do not really have to be playing a certain style. You need to be doing something nice or something cool and making what you want to make. I've toured with many bands, and I've been a part of many bands. I've been all over the place but I am still a part of the community.
You are also in the band Seabear, but this is your third album as Sin Fang. Why this project and this album?
It just happened this way. I made an album while I was still doing Seabear. I just wanted to try something solo—to do it all by myself. I wanted to do a project where I was in control of everything. I did it under the name Sin Fang Bous for the first album. People started referring to the project as Sin Fang, I guess they didn't like three syllables, so I started referring to it as Sin Fang as well. But, it was just something different. Sin Fang was a reaction to being in a band. I had grown bored of acoustic folk music. I wanted variation.
How long did you spend in the studio making this album?
I was in my studio for a few months. I remember when I started working on the album I had 27 songs and gave them to Alex [Somers]. We picked 10 or 11 together and spent at least three months in session together assembling the album.
Do you ever play with session musicians or do you prefer to perform alone?
I have this version of this band, where it is just me. At others shows, I've recently been playing with two drummers for the impact of multi-percussion. I've also had five people playing with me where the music itself, it's not electronic. It's a more rocky, folky kind of performance. For the last album I did I was traveling with a 12-piece live band. I like the freedom of performing alone. It's allowed me to perform versions of songs I am doing for a new EP releasing this summer. I can also play remixes of my songs, outside the style they were initially made.
How do you define a difference between your live tracks and recorded work?
I'm really into being in the studio and working for a long time to get the exact sounds that I like. You can never recreate that in a live setting. It's a separate thing, a separate experience. When you are making an album, it is permanent and you must be happy with all of the results. When you are performing live, it is a moment and you must make people happy within that moment. I go kind of crazy in the studio. No matter how hard you try, and I've tried, it's never going to be the same live.
Photos by David Graver