The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonderers. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map. This week’s blog is from Harry DeLorme, Telfair Museums’ deep thinker, education maestro and curator of all things cool. Read on get Harry’s pulse on PULSE, one of the hottest art & technology events of the year…
There’s something to be said for silliness – the act of doing something incongruent, an amusing throwaway idea, or just maybe, something truly visionary that strikes a chord in a large number of people.
Some of the artists in Savannah for the annual PULSE festival (January 30- February 3) at Telfair’s Jepson Center have achieved the latter, for example, Keita Takahashi, legendary videogame creator. His award-winning Katamari Damacy entails rolling up objects, from paperclips to continents, into a ball. Katamari was just accepted into the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, along with iconic arcade classic PacMan.
Takahashi, recently re-envisioned PacMan as a room-sized environment. Designed as an immersive projection by Clement Shimizu, 3D PacMan can be played all over the walls for 5 days at the Jepson Center during PULSE. It goes to show that a silly idea can become not only a cultural icon but evolve via creators like Takahashi, whose Katamari won numerous awards and spawned seven sequels.
Takahashi makes a rare appearance on January 31 at the Jepson with NYC independent arcade group Babycastles, and game developer Douglas Wilson. After this program, Wilson will lead a live session of his award-winning game Johann Sebastian Joust, in which players “joust” at one another with PS Move controllers to the tunes of J.S. Bach. The videogame industry, currently under fire for products that some argue encourage violent behavior, would do well to take note of the inspired and innovative silliness of visionaries like Wilson and Takahashi.
PULSE artist Hye Yeon Nam is also no stranger to ideas that appear off-kilter at first glance. She created the Kiss Controller, a device that allows a couple to control a video game while kissing – not an easy task. Another of her works features five robotic skeleton arms, which point accusing at the viewer. When you smile they wave at you, thanks to face tracking software.
Not to leave out Onyx Ashanti, an American musician who relocated to Berlin a few years ago to perfect his BeatJazz system, which he will perform on February 1 and 2. Appearing at one point in a popular TED video with a smartphone strapped to his arm and a controller in his mouth, Ashanti now uses wearable 3D printed controllers to create his futuristic grooves in unbelievably cool performances.
Don’t forget that PULSE is all ages and totally FREE – sponsored by the City of Savannah. Come out and enjoy innovation at its silliest…and most profound. For the PULSE schedule of events, click here.