I went to Namur, and this is what I saw…

I don’t often visit the southern part of Belgium, but when I do it is always mountains of fun. Last Friday, I visited the Kikk international digital festival in Namur, Belgium. As it is only in its third edition, the festival is still relatively small and unknown.

They describe it themselves as “an International festival of creativity in digital cultures, that explores the economic and artistic implications of new technologies”. To me this sounded a lot like the work I’ve seen at Resonate in Belgrade last April,  so I just had to visit Kikk to have a look at what these digital artists produced.

My favorite talk was by Zach Liebermann, one of the founders of OpenFrameworks (a C++ based toolkit for creative coders). He creates stunningly beautiful visualizations, such as this dynamic painting of a runner’s movements based on Nike+ data.

But he also created an eye-tracking drawing tool for ALS-struck (and thus paralyzed) grafitti-artist Tempt. The drawings he made were then projected on buildings, in order to give the artist back his ability to express himself.

Also intriguing was Pablo Garcia (whose talk I missed in Belgrade). I guess he is mainly known for his collaboration with Golan Levin on the NeoLucida drawing aid, which was funded through Kickstarter. But he also gave us a short history of drawing, including the first ancient Greek shadow-tracing and for example Albrecht Dürer’s mechanical drawing aids. 

Soon, he will be launching drawingmachines.org, where you will be able to see more examples (and maybe try to build them yourself as well, if you are feeling ambitious).

Then there was Carlo Ratti, the director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, who gave a talk about how data could be analyzed and visualized, such as this “Signature of Humanity”, visualizing mobile data across the world, in a timeline:

Also beautiful, but maybe less “profound” was the work of Sonice Development. They use self-constructed machines such as the Vertwalker or Facadeprinter to leave traces of paint on walls and create beautiful imagery.

So that were, in short, my highlights of the Kikk festival. I was surely inspired by all the wonderful projects I’ve seen, so maybe I’ll get my hands dirty in Processing/vvvv/OpenFrameworks/… somewhere in the near future.

Anyway, in case you missed it or you want to see more, you can view the recordings on the Kikk website. Or if you are patient enough to wait for another year, you can join me for Kikk 2015!