Conference Redux: Molly went to INST-INT in New Orleans

Calling all in need of some Monday inspiration! Last week I attended the INST-INT  in New Orleans from January 22 – 24. About 300 artists, designers, activists, and engineers (plus a couple librarians, woot woot!) gathered in an intimate jazz market for two days of talks and demonstrations about the Art of Interactivity, interspersed with evening musical programs and design demos at venues around New Orleans. The scale, complexity, and creativity of the work on display was truly mind-blowing, ranging from musical swings in city centers to self-sustaining waterpods to folded paper structures that turn into a planetarium with the help of your smartphone’s flashlight. Some of the projects were serious, others playful, some massive, others tiny, some machine-based, others decidedly non-digital.

One of the major conference takeaways for me was how the essence of interaction is collaborative, and therefore it often takes large teams to pull off any one of these installations. As Rafael Lozano-Hemmer emphasized in his presentation, too often interactive media art is categorized as visual arts, whereas in truth it is closer to film: it is both time-based and event-based. Therefore each project should include a list of credits, like a film does, attributing credit to all of the people whose effort it took to create it.

Since these projects are better shown than told, I’ve included a list of videos about some of my favorites in this blog post for you to explore:

Melissa Mongiat and Mouna Andraos presented on the work they did with their Daily Tous Les Jours studio to built a collective musical instrument using swings in multiple cities:

Dr. Rebecca Fiebrink showed us how to use Wekinator to create musical synethesis:

Mary Mattingly presented about her work on a self-sustaining Waterpod in New York City:

Waterpod Project from Mary Mattingly on Vimeo.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer gave an inspiring talk about the broader meanings of interactive media art and showed us many of the installations that his prolific studio has worked on over the past two years, including this one, “Call on Water,” which writes words from the poems of Mexican writer Octavio Paz in mid-air with plumes of air from a water basin:

L05, Wesley Taylor, and ill Weaver of the Detroit-based art collective Complex Movements shared their project, Beware of the Dandelions:

Delaney Martin and Jay Pennington shared the work they did to create a Music Box Roving Village in New Orleans and elsewhere:

New Orleans Airlift – Music Box Roving Village: City Park 2015 from New Orleans Airlift on Vimeo.

Refik Anadol showed walked us through his journey to the work he does today, including this public art installation 350 Mission Building in City of San Francisco:

Virtual Depictions: San Francisco / Public Art Project from Refik Anadol on Vimeo.

Kelli Anderson rounded off the amazing three days with a presentation of the creative work she’s done with paper as an interactive medium, including engineering paper into a working camera:

There were also many amazing five-minute “show and tell” presentations. Here are a couple of the projects presented:

Diffusion Choir by Hypersonic, Sosolimited, and Plebian Design:

DRYADS from Dave and Gabe (with digital fabrication help from Gamma NYC):

I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I do. Until next time,


p.s. I also gave a quick lightening talk about my project at METRO, calling for collaborators and ideas (which actually worked, thanks for everyone at INST-INT who approached me!).

Catch up on the latest episodes of Library Bytegeist! 🎧

You can stay updated with monthly audio stories from the libraries, archives, and museums of New York City by following our podcast on SoundCloud, iTunes, or Stitcher. Here are summaries of our last three episodes, produced and hosted by Molly Schwartz as part of her METRO fellowship project:

Episode: #4 Talking Pop-up Media Migration with the XFR Collective’s Rachel Mattson

In this episode, Molly talks with Dr. Rachel Mattson about her work as a member of the XFR Collective, an all-volunteer group of over 14 members, does the work that it does, partnering with artists, activists, individuals, and groups to preserving at-risk audiovisual media – especially unseen, unheard, or marginalized works, like this gay wedding celebration – by providing low-cost digitization services. Please read below for more information about the XFR Collective and the tools we used to produce this podcast.

Here is a link to a rough transcript of the episode:…/edit?usp=sharing

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