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4 Experiential Artists Who Brightened Up 2016 | The Wrap-Up

Liz West, Nonotak, Moment Factory, and Jeremy Couillard promised us magical experiences this year, and didn’t disappoint.

The winter solstice is behind us, the days are getting longer, and the calendar year is coming to an end, which can only mean one thing: It's time to check back with some of the experiential artists we hailed as up-and-comers last winter, and see what they've been up to the last few months. Liz West has been painting rainbows all over England. NONOTAK Studio spent their year on the road, playing with light, mirrors and motion. Moment Factory is melding the real and the virtual, sprinkling their magic outdoors. And Jeremy Couillard is figuring out how to make computers weird again. Catch up with them all, below.

Liz West

Liz West's Our Colour Reflection premiered at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe, England, in 2016. Photo © Hannah Devereux

"The biggest thing I have learned this year is that life is short," writes Liz West in an email to The Creators Project. "Therefore I must embrace every opportunity and make the best work possible." West told us earlier this year she was feeling ambitious, and her 2016 schedule proved as much. Her traveling installation, Our Colour Reflection, hit three venues, and she flooded several other spaces with site-specific explorations of light and color. West's bold, vibrant aesthetic feels purely futuristic in modern spaces, where it fits right in, but walks a more complex line when it is set in contrast with historical spaces. She closed off the year with her first permanent installation, Sevenfold, inside a neo-classical theater from the 1840s.

NONOTAK

Hoshi by NONOTAK Studio. Courtesy of the artists

On the more minimalist end of the color spectrum, there's NONOTAK, the collaborative team comprised of illustrator Noemi Schipfer and architect/producer Takami Nakamoto. An obvious highlight for us this year was their infinity room, Hoshi, created for our event series Future Forward. That was but one of many stops on their busy 2016 tour of installations and performances across Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and their time on the road, while exhausting, only seems to drive their work further: "We are constantly learning how not finished we are. The completion of each project sparks a new process that feels incomplete to us, and needs to be fulfilled," they explain. As they move up, they also have plans to scale down; the duo is experimenting with more portable versions of their concepts (for bite-sized hypnotic experiences).

Moment Factory

Nova Lumina, a night walk created by Moment Factory on the Gaspé Peninsula. Courtesy of Moment Factory

Meanwhile, new-media and entertainment studio Moment Factory have been taking their immersive experiences outdoors. Moment Factory's approach is rooted in narrative: Nova Lumina, for example, is a mile-long, multimedia night walk by the sea, in which visitors must help return a fallen star to its home in the sky. The just-launched Lumina Borealis is another night walk, inspired by childhood winter memories. The studio seems to be elevating the concept of a theme park, with stunning, ethereal visuals that turn the real world into a dream environment. "It's amazing to use nature as a canvas...augmenting reality out in the world, rather than inside the screen," notes Sakchin Bessette, the studio's co-founder.

Jeremy Couillard

Still from Jeremy Couillard's Alien Afterlife. Courtesy of the artist

Moving away from the screen and into the real world is one answer, but Jeremy Couillard refuses to give up on pixels. "I love computers, but they have really helped bring us to a dark place this year. I want to make super fucked up bizarre-o cosmologies that can remind me we're still weird and complicated humans, and not just data points to sell toothpaste and work pants and ideology to," he shares in an email. Couillard has been working all year on a video game called Alien Afterlife, which, appropriately enough, sounds like a metaphor for the struggle to effect change. The premise: "You die, go into the afterlife, and alien terrorists invade, stealing the machine that was going to reincarnate you. You have to go explore the alien occupied bardo to get the pieces back with the hope of being reborn." A VR video of the game's intro will be released by the New Museum next month, and the game will be part of a show at yours mine & ours gallery in February.

Learn more about the artists on their websites: Liz West, NONOTAK Studio, Moment Factory, and Jeremy Couillard.

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