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Interview with The Creators Series

A peak behind the newest enterprise at Tribeca Enterprise: Tomorrow Unlimited. Join us this June 8-10 for the inaugural Creators Series, a multi-disciplinary arts conference exploring the future of creative culture. We sat down with Jeremy Boxer, director of programming, and Jesse Ashlock, editorial director for Tomorrow Unlimited, to hear more about the Creators Series.

Tribeca Film Festival : What sparked the Creators Series? How fif it all come about?

Jeremy Boxer: I guess we wanted to do something that was more multi-disciplinary and we wanted to create an experience where you got to see things live in person and you got to hear what Creators had to say about how they created their projects. That's pretty wher it started. We tried to see who was out there, who was emerging from all types of disciplines.

Jesse Ashlock: We've talked amongst ourselves about how this word 'convergence' is a really sexy buzz-word, and it matters a great deal in terms of thinking about where 21st Century creative culture is headed. But arts conferences are usually defined by their discipline or defined by a certain outlook, and so we wanted to create a space where creative pursuits could all kind of come and mash together and people could exchange ideas and discover where they had common problems, common goals, common themes they were exploring. It's kind of a Creatve Melting Pot . That's the idea.

Jeremy Boxer: And it's not elitist. It's ment to be very accessible as much as possible to anyone to come into the space and kind of get inspired by all these things that are going on out there.

Jesse Ashlock: Yes, the whole idea of having a free public gallery is tied to creating both aphysical space that doesn't cost anything to get into, where you can engage with artwork, meet Creators, meet other people who are interested in this creative work, and kind of hang out and see what comes out of being put in this space. Anybody's welcome.

Jeremy Boxer: And then if you want to learn more, we created a series of panel discussions that all the Creators are on, and they're broken out into sub-blucks where you can learn more the ins and outs of these themes that we decided to cover.

Tribeca Film Festival : How did you decide upon the "themes" that you chose to cover?

Jesse Ashlock: We had some initial ideas about people we would like to invite who had exciting topical projects and we started to identify themes among them; like an interest in providing a forum for sustainable design and an interest in providing a forum to look at what weird new directions filmmaking might be heading. But what themes did arise fairly organically, just because they were the mainfestation of what people were doing.

Jeremy Boxer: And it's also stuff that we decided that we wanted to cover for our upcoming website and our editorial voice and it was really, like Jesse said, organic and it came out of conversationswith people that we thought were doing interesting things, and one thing lead to another. One choice lead to another choice and lead to another choice and it just kind of happened that way.

Tribeca Film Festival : What would be your goal for the average participant who comes to the event?

Jeremy Boxer: I guess the ideal experience would be that they see things that they haven't seen before and feel like they're inspired to find out more about these subcultures and themes that are going on out there without stigmas attached to them. And, hopefully they'll feel that what they're working on is part of something bigger as well.

Tribeca Film Festival: Well, it seems so timely as the tools available to creative people are changing so fast.

Jesse Ashlock: Exactly. There is a lot of populism behind what we’re doing and that is connected to the tools and the internet and the creative landscape that has shifted over the last ten years or so.

Jeremy Boxer: It’s been interesting- once we picked several of the people that we did, some of them hit their stride and major things have been happening for them. It’s interesting to track how some of them have created a lot of traction from their ideas, and a lot of them have been discovered through YouTube or through the Internet.

Tribeca Film Festival: Well, it’s becoming a completely valid way of being discovered.

Jeremy Boxer: That also speaks more to what our creative editorial site is going to be. It’s going to be a hub for finding out more about these people, and this conversation that we’re starting with this event will continue through our website and future events. It’s further strengthening our brand as a filter for what’s out there. A lot of times people don’t have the time to sift through everything that’s out there and we’re trying to provide a way of looking at things in a different way.

For example, we contacted this group out of Barcelona called the Reactables. They created this new digital synthesizer which is more built around physical interaction to create the musical instrument.

Jesse Ashlock: It’s what you call a tangible media project. You actually interact with the media by doing stuff to it. You actually move objects across this interactive surface and make music that way.

Jeremy Boxer: Bjork basically saw it online, probably through YouTube and then picked it up for her tour and so it’s now an integral part of her tour moving forward. And she just started using it about three or four weeks ago. So it’s amazing how timely it was in that kind of way.

Obviously Graffiti Research Lab. We where we were talking to them about their laser tag thing and we were also talking to Theo Watson who is doing two interactive displays for us, and we didn’t realize that he wrote the code for the laser tag thing. So there are happy accidents that kind of evolving from what we’re doing.

Jesse Ashlock: And GRL (Graffiti Research Lab) is an excellent example of an artist that has just kind of sky-rocketed in public consciousness just over the last six months, primarily through the web. To the point where the Post did an article about them in the last week or so. They’ve also been covered by WIRED this year.

Jeremy Boxer: And last year, Paul Moose Curtis who is in the Urban Interventionist panel- he’s been doing his thing for a number of years but just came to light through being one of the ideas to watch from the Annual Year of Ideas in the New York Times Magazine from last year. So all of these people have started to get notoriety through what they do and it’s just funny how things organically happen through the internet.

Tribeca Film Fsetival: Tell me about the Gallery part of the show that is free to the public.

Jeremy Boxer: Well the Gallery part of the show is meant to kind of allow people to see these works- a lot of them are based either on video projection or through the internet or public installations. What we tried to create, with this new type of gallery experience, is a blacked-out gallery with a lot of projections, lots of computer screens, lots of interactive things. What we’re trying to do is have the installations be there but also have the Creators there in the Gallery at set times to kind of walk you through what they’ve done. And I think that’s a different way of experiencing all the work. A lot of the times you get to see a clip of it or you get to hear about something but you never really get a personal connection to it. And I think that’s what the Gallery is about- trying to get a personal connection to the work.

Jesse Ashlock: It’s also designed to create informal interactions with the Creators, outside the ticketed talks. And there will be some casual demos and chats about the work that’s taking place in a more casual, convivial context outside of the dedicated theatre space.

It’s a more generative culture that we’re living in that the internet is helping to facilitate and our events and out website are both intended to be an embodiment of that new generative culture. Stuff like Remix and Sharing and the Commons and a work of art having a life after it’s initially produced- mutating and taking on new meaning.

Tribeca Film Festival: This is all happening so fast, that for the average consumer or artist, that it’s really hard to know where or how to drop in an learn.

Jesse Ashlock: One of the downsides of the internet is that there is so much information to sift through and filter. But not only that. Oftentimes this really interesting dynamic, emerging creative culture is hard to appreciate the significance and excitement of it through a very short 320 x 240 YouTube video or a single paragraph blog post. So it’s not just filtering and aggregating that kind of stuff, but also giving it its due and making it as big as it is.

Jeremy Boxer: And presenting the works and giving them enough of a breathing space to live on their own- instead of it being a short attention span theatre kind of approach to c consuming culture. It’s not snack culture. These things are going on and you might have seen it or touched upon it here, but here’s your opportunity to spend ten minutes with each thing if you want to, or meet the guy who created it and ask him what his thoughts were in putting it together.

Jesse Ashlock: I would just add that all of this stuff in the Creators Series will have a life after we first present them to people. They are going to live on both specifically and more broadly speaking on the site that we are going to launch very shortly and that will provide the virtual hub for this community that is the sibling to the physical hubs that we present through our events.

Jeremy Boxer: We’re also profiling music acts in both cities that we think are pushing boundaries as well. So you’ll see live concerts of people who are doing things. We ave everything from the Reactables who are going to be performing to a Six-piece live band to a guy who is doing an evolution of what Beat Boxing is (Reggie Watts). It’s just interesting to see how things fold into each other. We hope the thing is entertaining as well as being a Creative Touch Point- it’s all about having fun with it and understanding that all these things are out there. And not for it to be an elitist gallery experience where you feel you are completely disconnected from the works. It’s more meant to be an all encompassing kind of things. A launch for the brand and for further exploration.

We are by no means saying that the people that we picked are the be-all and end-all of these sub-groups. These are just people who are working in these fields and are examples of what’s going on out there.

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