<p>Scott Snibbe has been creating interactive art for the past 20 years. Now he’s collaborating with people like Björk, Passion Pit, and James Cameron.</p>
Scott Snibbe‘s been around the interactive art block once or twice. The OG artist from San Francisco got his start in the 90s, collaborating with the likes of Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson on interactive music prototypes during his time at Interval Research Group. He later moved on to tackle large-scale installation projects exploring themes like personal space, cause and effect, and human interconnectedness, but it wasn’t long before he made his return to the music apps he started his career with. This time, thanks to the iPad, the world could experience his creations.
You may have encountered Snibbe’s work if you’ve downloaded Björk’s Biophilia app album, or perhaps one of his other musical apps—Gravilux and Bubbleharp—which were responsible for catching the Icelandic chanteuse’s eye in the first place.
Lately, Snibbe’s set his sights on the stage. His team developed most of the visuals for Björk’s current Biophilia live performances and, last night at the Webby Awards, he created visuals to accompany Passion Pit’s performance.
Taking imagery from photographer Mark Borthwick as his source material (Borthwick is responsible for the dreamy cover art on the band’s latest release, Take a Walk), as well as several other photographers, Snibbe mashed up one of his previous apps and built some custom software to fragment and distort the imagery.
"The visuals break apart Mark's photography to impressionistically tell the story of ‘Take a Walk’," explains Snibbe. "If you listen to the lyrics, you realize the song is about the financial bubble, so we used this fractured bubble-like imagery to suggest that, and to evolve towards the uplifting feeling Passion Pit suggests as the song progresses – moving from simplicity, to complexity, to simplicity again."
Snibbe and his team are excited to bring this added performance element to the stage and have been adapting and developing new tools for this purpose, like Motion Phone, which they recently used in a concert with San Francisco’s Calder Quartet.
“There’s always this issue with electronic music when it’s being performed because there’s not much for a performer to do in concert. By bringing these visual instruments onto the stage, all of a sudden you’re able to add a live element. That’s not necessarily the case with Passion Pit, they’re obviously a live band, but the more you can bring a live experience, something unpredictable, something unique, the more you can get something special and exciting,” says Snibbe.
Check out our mini documentary on Snibbe and his art above. You can also learn more about the educational programs he’s developing with Björk around the Biophilia apps suite.