New media and digital artists are renowned for their ability to appropriate and combine very diverse creative fields and disciplines. Most of the time, this synthesis remains hesitant, limited and within the strict borders of classic encounters between art, science and technology. Multimedia artists and designers 3kta (André Rangel et Anne-Kathrin Seiegel) firmly intend to break this monotonous cycle and explore new horizons.
Their latest project, Syndyn, is an ambitious creative experience that aims at merging aesthetics, physical activity and leisure. Syndyn is indeed both a racquet sport and an audiovisual performance—these two dimensions being linked by a series of high-tech interactions to construct not just a physical game, but a visual environment.
The games/performances take place on a vast playing field—open air or indoor—where two players confront one another in front of a large video screen. Before each game, the two opponents must pick a soundscape, visual style, and color palette for the lighting system via an iPod Touch controller. Their racquets are equipped with motion sensors that detect the speed of each hit and this data is transmitted to a computer via a radio transmitter system. Each strike of the racquet therefore not only gives rhythm to the game but also becomes the source of synchronous real-time synthesized sounds, as well as a catalyst for shifts in the ambient abstract visuals.
Beyond this game-based interactive experience, Syndyn features another artistic component that seeks to capture these temporal, performative interactions. Each game is played in front of a long exposure photographic camera that shoots the players periodically, transforming the trajectory of the the balls and racquet swings into bright, colorful threads of light, and the players into strange radiating ballet dancers from the future. These pictures don't bear any resemblance to the situations and objects they’re supposed to depict, instead conjuring up visions from a sci-fi visual vocabulary or digital dance performance.
Is it sport? Is it a game? Is it art? Frankly, we’re not sure and we’re also not sure it really matters anymore. The traditional barriers of distinction are continuously being subverted by artists to the point of obsolescence and this hybrid project is just one example of an interactive environment that positions artistic creation as an integral and unavoidable component of the experience. And we’re all for that.
Photos/Video courtesy of 3kta 2011.