Recap: Intersect – a collision of artists and geeks!

Sharon and I walked down the street to Startup Edmonton for the first ever Intersect event on Friday evening. I had heard Ken talk about the concept in the past, so I had some idea of what to expect. Think DemoCamp, but with artists showcasing their work rather than software developers! Here’s how the event was officially described:

A collision of technical and creative minds, Intersect is a new event that puts geeks and artists on stage to show off projects that merge the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, and other creative fields. A fun way to support artists and creators in our community, Intersect will inspire constructive conversations and interactions around concepts, demos, samples and prototypes being created in Edmonton.

Intersect

We arrived shortly after the advertised start time of 7pm and found the third floor of the Mercer Warehouse buzzing. A couple dozen people were enjoying the DJ and the bar and we could see projects setup all around the room. Startup Edmonton teamed up with Megan & Beth Dart, the sister duo behind Catch the Keys Productions, to curate projects for the event. They ended up with five, in order of introduction:

  • Scott Smallwood

    Scott Smallwood is a sound artist, composer, and sound performer who creates works inspired by discovered textures and forms, through a practice of listening, field recording, and sonic improvisation. He also designs experimental electronic instruments and software, as well as sound installations and site-specific performance scenarios. Scott has been active as an educator for over 15 years, teaching composition, improvisation, and electroacoustic music at the University of Alberta.

  • Good Women Dance Society 

    Good Women Dance Society is a creation-based company that is committed to helping create a vibrant and sustainable contemporary dance community in Edmonton. The society’s artistic focus is on creating and producing innovative new works with integrity and conviction.

  • Owen Brierley, GURU Digital Arts Collective

    Owen is the Executive Director of Guru Digital Arts College. Over the past 14 years Owen has worked with, taught and worked for many of Edmonton’s top talent in digital media. From Project Director for a Serious Game in the oil and gas sector to Lego trivia interactives for the Telus World of Science, Owen has had the pleasure of exploring almost every form of interactive digital media production.

  • Technitone 

    Built by local interactive firm gskinner.com to showcase Google Chrome, Technitone is an interactive web audio experience that lets you join other creators to plot tones on a grid, construct melodies, and modify the output with a robust toolset of effects. Technitone packs a few neat extras, too, such as a solo mode for those who like more control, and a gallery where you can publish your masterpieces, whether made on your own or with a group.

  • ShowStages Collective 

    ShowStages is a video and design collective. We build narratives through projected media and interactive audio-visual experiences. We work in theatre and new media.

Though it felt like a mixer at first, we soon discovered there was a program for the event! Hosts Omar Mouallem and Julian Faid introduced each project, and then the artist behind it had a few minutes to talk about it. We went around the room from one project to the next, which was a nice change from the stay-seated approach of DemoCamp. After each project had been showcased, the event reverted back to the mixer-like atmosphere and attendees were free to seek out more information from the artists.

Intersect

I had already seen Technitone – Grant had demoed it a year ago at DemoCamp Edmonton 18 – but it was neat to see it again with big displays. The performance by GWDS was really impressive and utilized FaceTime (I think) to incorporate an interesting visual perspective. At one point the dancer, I believe it was Ainsley Hillyard, created a sort of infinity effect (like you might do with mirrors).

Intersect

Intersect

I thought Owen’s project, which if I understand correctly involved positioning video displays using software, was pretty neat. You could create some pretty cool installations with the approach! Scott’s work with sound was fascinating to learn about. I’m not sure if it is still active, but I can totally understand why Scott would be the guy behind Dorkbot Edmonton. Unfortunately Elijah had a few technical difficulties, but he still did a good job of demoing what ShowStages can do. I love that they use a Kinect plugged into a MacBook!

Intersect

I really enjoyed Intersect, and I do hope it becomes a regular series! I’m sure there are many more interesting collisions of art and technology taking place in our city. Kudos to Startup Edmonton and Catch the Keys on a successful first event!

Intersect

You can see the rest of my photos from the evening here.

Notes from the Geek Out panel

Post ImageHere are some notes from the Geek Out session administered by Robert Scoble, Will Pate and Kevin Marks:

  • Sounds like they have some topics to discuss at first, followed by some good questions at the end.
  • Kevin is talking about microformats, specifically tagging. We’re also getting a demo of the Blog Finder and Explore features on Technorati. Microformats can be used for tags, events, names, addresses, etc.
  • Kevin just entered “canada” into the Explore feature, and every post on the page was from my blog. Something cool about seeing your blog appear on the big screen in a presentation 🙂
  • Scoble is talking now, about sharing information through del.icio.us and using other Firefox extensions.
  • We’re going around the room sharing favorite Firefox extensions, some of which include: Session Saver, Fangs, PDF Download, Download Status, Signatures, Fasterfox, Web Developer, Firebug, etc.
  • Will Pate is talking now about his blog, and how he uses Drupal for customization. Specifically he is focusing on the aggregation of content capabilities.
  • Kevin just showed an awesome animated graph of the long tail of posts in response to a question about the A list and how to break in. Basically if you get a single inbound link, you’re above average!
  • Scoble reiterates that he’s interested in mapping, and thinks that within a year someone will have “put this room up on a map”. He’s talking about taking the basic mapping capabilities and making them extremely relevant and useful.
  • Will wants better tools for “normal” people, things like posting from within Microsoft Word, etc. He also says user interface is very important!
  • Scoble is interested in the photo sites like Riya and Bubbleshare.
  • Someone asked about Web 2.0 and all of the new products we’re seeing, and both Scoble and Will seem to think we won’t really see a slowdown of new ideas, even though the big three pick up companies along the way.
  • Scoble says the new advertising based business model will allow a lot of new companies to grow. Sounds a lot like the idea behind Live.com if you ask me!