Sub Rosa Media Arts Director Joshua Davis spends much of his time conceptualizing and developing original software creations for clients and cultural collaborations, as well as traveling the world sharing them – via installations, lectures, classes and any variety of events.
A longtime pioneer in the field, Davis is not only in touch with but leading its continued evolution – which occurs via connecting with and instigating collaboration between fellow trailblazers around the world – most of whom share new discoveries with each other in open-source environments.
The current wave of innovation has crested with an emergence of audio-reactive programming: The process of using software to connect audio and visuals so that an experience is dynamic (live), multi-sensory (audio and visual) and invariably flexible (allowing any of the inputs to produce a different output, or adapting the outputs to any new environment or surface).
From stadiums to store windows (Davis would like Times Square during the holidays, please), the potential applications of this programming are extensive and inspiring.
Recently, Davis executed his largest audio-reactive installation to date, for OFFF 2015.
The three-day journey of conferences, workshops, activities and performances is attended by thousands of Designers, Theorists, Developers, Professionals, Students and otherwise.
In celebration of its 15th year, 2015 featured artists such as Stefan Sagmeister, John Maeda, Neville Brody, Kyle Cooper, The Mill, Digital Kitchen, Chris Milk and many more.
Joshua Davis – a 15-year OFFF alum – co-headlined the 2015 festival, which was the largest celebration and installation yet – for both the program and Davis personally: “The Deepest of Space”.
For “The Deepest of Space”, Davis created an immense, three-dimensional live art projection lounge featuring audio, visuals, physical assets and entirely un-programmed (pre-recorded) assets.
The Deepest of Space enveloped visitors in immense projected visuals, stretching over more than 100 feet of multi-dimensional wall space.
Davis has custom-coded the projected visuals to react in real time to a dedicated playlist, which he controlled for three consecutive days.
Using a combination of processing (java), a personal code library (hypeframework.org) and GLSL shaders, the audio spectrum of the songs will be connected to components of the visuals, enabling the sound variances to control aspects of the artwork, causing them to rotate, distort and change tempo.
The Deepest of Space was designed for complete compatibility with Chromadepth glasses, allowing a 3D viewing option while retaining the fidelity of the 2D experience. This viewing option expanded the complexity of the already-intricate fabrics of artwork, digital design, and metaphysical references.
This was something I’d not worked with before - it was taking graphics and wrapping them around a geometric surface. This also made the collaboration with our Designer really simple. She didn’t need to learn code. She could just create graphics in Photoshop or Illustrator and we could import them in, wrap them around any geometry and, boom, a dynamic 3D experience. We now have a new technique for taking images that aren’t 3D, 3D, by mapping them to an environment that is.
For the graphics, Davis and Designer Christina Latina explored darks for “low” elevations and white to create “higher” elevations – resulting in a series of “planetary explosions”.
Given that the process was experimental, the team made discoveries as they worked. Some made it into the final installation; some didn’t. At one point,Davis wanted to test the process of using a webcam and live video as an output. After working out the details, he posted the test video to Vimeo (where he regularly shares in-process or experimental work). That day, Vimeo named it Staff Pick of the Day, and 45,000+ users have viewed it since.
The beauty of these projects is that they’re always evolving. Initially, it began with a single seed idea. Throughout the nurturing of that seed, we grew a tree, and branches that yielded a variety of new ideas with as much potential as the first.
Participants returned to the installation time and again over the course of the festival, spending up to several hours taking in the continuously unique environment, and the future of experiential art.
Concept, Creative Direction & Production: Joshua Davis, Media Arts Director, Sub Rosa.
Featuring artwork by Jana Styblova and Christina Latina.