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Balloons and Light Bulbs Take Digital Art into New Environments

Visual artist Maotik keeps viewers guessing with his multimedia environments and generative visuals.

In every bottle of Perrier, there are countless bubbles. Together, #ExtraordinairePerrier and The Creators Project celebrate "the extraordinary" behind some of the most fascinating artists pushing boundaries through their chosen medium, technique, and perspective. This is an ongoing series exploring those artists. 

Using lasers, balloons, light bulbs, and even laboratory chemicals, there’s no telling what form Montreal-based visual artist Maotik’s next artwork will take. The artist creates multimedia environments and generative visuals from algorithms and 3D worlds. The only thing predictable about his projects is their unpredictability.

“I’m interested in creative narrative storytelling that is nonlinear, but event dependent,” he tells The Creators Project. “It gives a larger space for improvisation.”

Maotik is an artist focused on stimuli and data in the moment. He singles out the 2013 project titled, Dromos, which was performed in the dome of Montreal’s Société des Arts Technologiques (S.A.T.), as particularly representative of his improvisational style. Inspired by theorist Paul Virilio’s concept of “dromology” or the relationship between the speed of technological advancements and progress, Dromos synced minimal sound textures with sleek, abstract visuals that were projected onto S.A.T.’s dome. “It was the first time I was manipulating visuals in real time with TouchDesigner,” says Maotik. 

A still from “Dromos,” Maotik’s first project that incoporated real-time graphics; Image courtesy of Maotik

Maotik’s interest in the interactive and improvisational can be traced back to his childhood when he developed simple computer games. Later on, he rediscovered his love for platform building in his early twenties and pursued a master’s degree in digital art at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. There, he discovered many of the new media artists who he cites as his inspiration including Golan Levin, Zach Lieberman, Casey Reas, and Marius Watz.

While contemporary artists factored heavily into the development of Maotik’s style comes from the literary world. “One of my main author references is Umberto Eco’s Opera aperta,” says Maotik. “In this book, the writer explains that a piece of art can have a different interpretation each time you experience it. My idea is to give enough intelligence and randomness to a system, so that the visuals can live by themselves and become organic and unpredictable.”

SIX DRAWINGS from MAOTIK on Vimeo.

The “open” quality of Maotik’s work means that it can accommodate not only a diverse range of materials, but also collaborators. Maotik has worked with scientists, sound artists, and even the experimental percussionist Diego Espinosa, who used a balloon as a musical instrument in their project, Six Drawings. The musician plucked and pinches at a balloon and Maotik followed the movements with a sensor to generate visuals.

He says, “Even if I have been focusing for a long time on experimenting with sound and visuals, I want to expand my field of research on retrieving data in order to give some poetic interpretation to natural environments.”

His latest project is the firefly-inspired Light Bearers, a public art installation that will be at the Biela Noc in Bratislava, Slovakia and the Signal Festival in Prague, this fall. The project will allow viewers to interact with the nature-inspired piece in nature. “Nowadays, new technologies allow artists to adapt their content to any kind of platform," he says. "I would be interested to build a project that I could present in any kind of public space. I think it is important to bring new media art pieces outdoors and to not keep them in conventional places.” 

LIGHT BEARERS / PORTEURS DE LUMIERE from MAOTIK on Vimeo.

Click here to visit Maotik's website.

To learn more about Thirst for the Extraordinary, click here.

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