Dixon’s AI-based digital ecosystem comes to south London’s nightclub Printworks
Dixon’s hybrid collective Transmoderna has launched its new VR venture Terraforming, featuring digital works from Giusy Amoroso, Gabriel Massan and more.
- 22 October 2021
- Ayla Angelos
In a mash-up of electronic music and digital art, Dixon – the Berlin-based DJ and household Ibiza club name – is making his debut at London’s Printworks this weekend. It’s been just over a month since the south London nightclub reopened its doors post-lockdown, and it’s safe to say it’s returned with a visual and sonic bang. Featuring Dixon’s concept party brand Transmoderna, the event will present an AI ecosystem replete with LEDs, lasers, VR, holograms and, of course, music. Not to mention digital artworks from Dixon himself plus Giusy Amoroso, Gabriel Massan, Sofia Crespo and Feileacan McCormick.
“It feels like a big, fat reunion,” Dixon tells It’s Nice That. “And a bit like being able to do team sports again after a serious collective injury. First, you learn to walk, then you can’t stop jumping around together while holding hands. What I am specifically eager to do is to play the music that I had used in our two virtual streams.” In the midst of the lockdown, music – and everything else, for that matter – switched online, from quizzes and games to virtual pubs and clubs. “During lockdown, the immediacy of reaction was there on social media, but there was no sweat.”
Giusy, an Italian AI artist based in Berlin, worked with Dixon and Transmoderna as an art director and character artist for the first Boiler Room stream together. Through this project, Giusy was able to “explore interesting aspects of my art,” she says, “like creating unusual alien characters and inviting the audience to visit them together with an XR version of Dixon in a dreamy underwater world.” After a positive response – where “many people remember it as one of their highlights of the first lockdown period” – Giusy was, therefore, a keen collaborator in the next Dixon instalment at Printworks. Dixon adds: “During my first live gigs I noticed that the people reacted enormously to these tracks. And now, with Terraforming, we will revisit these tracks with the visuals that we used in the streams.” In fact, Dixon refers to the next instalment as “reversing the physics of partying,” in the sense that it’s gone from streaming over the pandemic to “experiencing these moments together again in big spaces, on big screens and individually in virtual reality, deepening the experience of dance music.”
Gabriel, a visual 3D artist from Brazil, is another one of the other artists involved in the evening’s events. Over the trajectory of his career so far, Gabriel has fostered an interest in the realm of ecology, activism and the environment – it’s a subject matter that protrudes throughout his work, having previously featured his otherworldly habitats, creatures and narratives. His work, just like Giusy’s, suits rather fittingly to the Transmoderna theme of the AI ecosystem: named Terraforming. Devised as a new project format, the team behind it wanted to explore the idea of making uninhabitable planets habitable again both on screen and in virtual reality. Sounds like a distant thought, doesn’t it? “Currently, there is a lot of buzz surrounding planetary travel,” explains Ana Oak, creative director at Transmoderna. “The earth is dying, and some people want to hop off to Mars and colonise it. None of these people poses the question: do planets have an identity? Or what if they don’t want to be colonised? Terraforming departs from an opposing imaginary moment: what if we could regain access to some of the earth’s lost ecosystems and reimagine them together through electronic music, digital arts and creative coding?”
Machine learning and AI systems, therefore, serve as the gateway to these unchartered territories. As for how this transpired through the work involved in the event, Gabriel’s addition kicked off with the exploration of small organic universes, “represented by islets of digital nature.” Considering he’s nurtured an interest in searching for pictures of insects, flowers, fruits, monkeys and rodents from the southern hemisphere, in particular, it was a task that Gabriel adored diving into; since his teenage years, he’s also understood the necessity of preserving our rainforests. The result is more than 50 digital sculptures, divided into different environments and then translated into specificities from colour to form. “I find that the design meets the aesthetics of Japanese animation and fantasy movies from the 80s, 90s and 2000s, as well as photos of robots used by Nasa for space exploration and artefacts from archaeological research of ancient civilisations in South America.”
Working at the intersection of electronic music, AI and creative coding is sure to be a hefty task, but it’s one that the Terraforming team are sure to champion – even if Timur Novikov, visual tech director at Transmoderna, refers to AI as being like a “chaotic child that needs to learn so much still.” The set-up is going to be a mammoth multimedia architectural structure housed in the main hall of Printworks, which means the audience will pass through its different digital moods that have been set by lights, lasers, AI and visuals on the screens. If you haven’t got your ticket yet, then you know what to do!
GalleryTransmoderna: Terraforming (Copyright © Gabriel Massan, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.