21st century crystal ball

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Intro about Sophi

Playing nicely together(was: 21st century crystal ball)

INTROHi- Im Sophi Kravitz, Thanks for having me here in Toronto! This is my 4th time at FITC, I love this conference so much!Im an artist, hardware hacker and a sometime engineer. Im currently into interactive art- the kind of art that plays with you.Im going to talk about working with people on expensive projects, and some of my experiences in collaborations.


working on teams

There are a lot of parts to being a good collaborator and having a good project experience. Finding good project partners, managing teams, keeping everyone motivated, learning, and sometimes learning really fast, recognition, and sharing recognition2


Money stuff: Finding someone to pay for the project- or stripping it down until its affordable to pay for yourself. Finally, the part that Im currently struggling the most with- is having a clear vision. For me, its straightforward as to what the project should look like, but having a clear idea of the concept is difficult for me. 3


Typically one person on a team will have the vision or concept, and I see this as being a really important part. Its difficult to share a vision, many artists dont work this way. It is difficult I think for all of us to give up control of the vision.


A bit about my background, nearly exactly 20 years ago I became a freelance sculptor in New York City. I mostly made a living building museum exhibits and prosthetic body parts for Hollywood movies.


To make a prosthetic body part, our process was first to lifecast an actor, this happened with alginate or silicone. Then molds were made, an incredibly detailed process. For movies, everything had to be perfect. 6

Photo credit: Innosilicone

pressure, flow, pump!

The basement studio I worked in had actors coming in and out all the time. I made a bleeding neck for this actor called Christopher Walken, it was pretty neat- you know when you bleed from the neck, there are two main arteries with different pressures. We had to create a rig that could provide flow and pump.


severed head rentals

MY FIRST START UP At this time, I was a shop assistant, a part of a 2 person team, and we were passionate about making realistic body parts. Together, our bonding experience was to create 300 severed heads for a body part rental service to film. 9

politics: when people on your team are mean

When people on your team are mean10

Studio EIS

Another project I worked on was sculpting Harlem GlobeTrotter basketball team sneakers for a restaurant display. The basketball team display was already sculpted, but Studio EIS hired me to fix all the parts of the sneakers that didnt make it out of a mold making process. We used something called magi-sculpt, which is two part epoxy. You mix it together in 2 equal parts and use it to sculpt detailed things. I spent two weeks alone sculpting shoelaces. Roll out the epoxy, squeeze it through your fingers, press a pattern into the clay, put the clay down onto the sneaker. Repeat.After Id been making these sneakers for awhile, I realized that some of the epoxy wasnt setting up- hardening. Im like whoa, this really really isnt good- it turns out the epoxy needs a happy temperature of about 20 degrees to work properly and Im sculpting in a part of the studio thats freezing. Anyway- we fixed it with a hot air gun, more commonly known as a hairdryer. In this situation- I was new to the studio, a part of a team of about 20 people, things were very competitive and political- many people wanted to sculpt sneakers it seemed. Someone ratted me out, I was reprimanded for sculpting in the wrong temperature and my future projects at that studio were more in the realm of mixing plaster and doing non-detail work.


I got to work on a sculpture called Cat on a Clothesline for a couple of weeks. I got hired by Jeff Koons to do some finishing work on the Cat, very similar to what Id done with the sneakers. Jeffs process at that time was to make large sculptures out of plaster, have molds made, and cast the sculptures multiple times in different resins and colors. It was horribly tedious work, laying down plaster and sanding it off. I worked on the cats eyes and the sock both. The sock was the worst- you could barely tell where the texture was, and yet, it had to be absolutely perfect. When the project was completed, although I thought my relationship with the studio was nice, I was never asked back to work. For many years I wondered why- I actually had this horrible feeling that I had sculpted one of the eyes crooked. I had also seen the cat leave the building via crane. It was pretty big and heavy, the art handlers struggled to get it out of the room. Recently there was a Jeff Koons retrospective in New York that I went to, and the cat was there. I was so relieved to see that the eyes were perfectly straight.


I built stuff for films and exhibits for about 8 years, for the most part as a shop assistant and team member. It was pretty amazing, and I got to work on pretty much every body part that was severed or mutilated possible. Ive been all of these parts in an artistic collaboration: designer, tech consultant, team member, project manager and shop slave er....assistant.


choose your team

WHO Small projects dont need a ton of support. In fact, having too many people can really weigh you down. One of my cousins has a brand new design website. Its so new that there are only about 10 pieces of really nice content on there. She got a website editor and a proofreader - so there are 3 people working on 10 pieces of content. She spends a lot of time managing these two people and not so much time writing content. If you can do it by yourself, you should do it yourself. But if you cant do it by yourself, you need to figure out what kinds of roles you need in the project before you start inviting everyone you love in the world to work on it.


The kinds of roles on a team you may need are technical: do you need someone to design a structure? Maybe you need an electronics person, someone to write software, someone to work with motors. There is a delicate balance between concept artists and technical people which I think is not well recognized.So say you have a big giant vision that wont let you sleep at night, its got a ton of code, and you dont really know how to write it. But you have this amazing idea...so you want to get someone to collaborate on it with you so that the idea can make its way out into the world. Maybe there are people here who can relate to this process!16

ART-A-HACK Theres a fun thing that takes place in New York, actually starting in May. Its called Art-A-Hack. The idea is to randomly mix people from different disciplines and get something wonderful. Art A Hack says it is about bringing art and technology together, to make something new.Its in the third year and I highly recommend getting involved if you live in NY. Theres an open call out right now, you can google Art A Hack to find it. I was a part of Art-a-Hack in the first year- I learned a lot about what NOT to do when youre an artist and a technologist together in a collaboration.


artists + technologists

So in 2014, there were 9 teams altogether made up of about 21 people. The 21 people were chosen from an open call- they probably took everyone, I have no idea. But there were many people with great ideas. So about 2 to 3 people on each team. Each team is put together by the organizers, Andy and Ellen. Andy and Ellen choose the teams by what technology we said we wanted to work on. I wanted to work on virtual reality, so I was put together with a talented designer, Martha, and a technologist Takafumi. Both Martha and Takafumi wanted to work also on virtual reality.All of the teams were made up of some combination of artist and technologist- the rules are that we have 3 Saturdays to work on it, all the technology is given to us- so for example we wanted to use a Leap Motion, which is a gestural processing tool- you can wave your hand and have something hopefully meaningful appear on screen.


get clear on the workload

The software engineer felt disrespected, and quit. It was really too bad, as the project had an interesting direction and could have really been wonderful had the artist been less of a boss, and more open. People who write code are incredibly creative and dont necessarily want to be told what to do. So the lesson I learned- I am someone who does not write much software- is that you have to understand the workload that youre talking about. You probably dont have experience in what your project partners do- which is how it should be. A collaboration is people determining their vision together, not one person bossing the others around.It seems quite obvious to all of us- I think we all try to be respectful, but its really the most important thing in any collaboration. With this particular event, as a group, we lost 3 software people for the same reason. 19

finding people to work with

Dear Reddit,Im a person without a huge amount of friends, since Im shy and I enjoy staying at home playing videogames and watching movies rather than going out.

My problem is, I want to start a project, but Im really not great with math, and I dont love programming.

My focus is art and design, besides story and ideas in general.

So, my question is, where do you find people to work with you? How do you trust someone that much to help you with a project that has no budget or payment guarantee?

ideator or follower?

Photo credit : Alison Faith, Creative Commons license

Either yo