At last night’s Nicer Tuesdays we delved into a whole host of cutting-edge creativity with six speakers whose work touches on technology. First up we heard from David Sheldon Hicks and Peter Eszeny of Territory Studio who specialise in creating futuristic user interfaces for films like Prometheus and Guardians of the Galaxy – “to tell a part of the story the actors couldn’t.” They spoke about the challenges of creating visuals that “are judged in a three-second burst and are often in the background” and explained how creating work for movies set in the near future is particularly difficult because it has to be grounded in reality. The key is to find “a visual language you can tie into quite quickly” so for the new Alex Garland film Ex Machina, blueprints for a bionic skeleton were based on IKEA assembly manuals!
After David and Peter we heard from recent Kingston graduate Doug Hindson whose recent animation explored the dehumanising effects of technology on our lives and relationships. He showed how from Plato to Thomas Carlyle to Marshall McLuhan, concerns about the effects of technological innovations have always been aired. “There are issues every generation has to grapple with,” Doug explained, “ and it’s important to remember we’re not the first ones to go through it.” What technology really does, he continued, is to magnify existing social and cultural issues – “maybe we do get the technology we deserve.”
After the break we were joined by Aaron Johnston and Adam Shephard of Technology Will Save Us, a studio which creates “gadgets you can make and build yourself.” With a fabulous backstory – the idea came to TWSU’s founder when he found a perfectly workable laptop in a Hackney bin – the guys showed how they try to “manifest code in the real world, to look at what might be about to come.” What was clear from their talk was that their products are about empowering other people and they clearly delight in seeing how a 12-year-old will react to their gadgets and use them in ways they’d never have thought of.
The final speaker of the night was Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, the inventor and CEO of Sugru, who echoed Adam and Aaron’s ideas about technological design empowering its users. Talking of her ingenious putty that hardens into rubber overnight, Jane said: “It’s not about the technology it’s about what it enables. It moves you from what you are designing to what might happen because you designed it.” She showed how “this little bit of crap” has been used in an incredible array of projects, from epic canoe trips to helping disabled people use straws. The kick for Jane is clearly how Sugru leads to “new conversations and new ways of looking at things.”
Thanks to everyone who came along, our speakers and as ever our sponsors Park Communications. Nicer Tuesdays will be back next month.