The Creators Project, founded in part by Vice Media, was started to showcase innovative artists and enable them to realize new artwork. “The Creators Project celebrates the connection between art and technology,” says David Haroldsen, a creative director for the project. “We set out to give people who use computers every day a look at artistic experiences that are only possible because of technology.”
“The Creators Project is about cultivating artists from around the world and exploring the boundaries of creativity as well as the role technology plays in the process,” adds Hosi Simon, general manager at Vice Media. With offices in more than 30 countries, Vice is uniquely positioned to draw from its relationship among the global art community and identify cutting-edge interdisciplinary artists.
When The Creators Project launched in 2010, Vice used a variety of media — including television, print, online and mobile outlets — to document the work of more than 100 creators to date, hailing mostly from seven countries (Brazil, China, France, Germany, South Korea, United Kingdom and United States). “In 2011, we pushed that concept forward by showcasing their work at events around the world, and by getting involved with the creators, their future and their creative process,” says Simon. “But we wanted to go beyond telling their stories. We wanted to help them take their work to the next level.”
The Studio, an ongoing arts initiative supported by The Creators Project, was created to do just that. “Think of The Studio as an art foundation,” says Simon. “It offers creators the means to realize their artistic visions. We foster interdisciplinary collaborations and give them access to the latest technology. Then we disseminate the work using a number of media channels and an event series.”
The event series kicked off at Milk Studios in New York City and then moved to London, Sao Paulo and Seoul, culminating in a three-day exposition in Beijing. “We learned a lot in those first events,” says Simon. “They were all-day, all-night affairs with everything from a film festival to panel discussions where creators explained how they do what they do. We had some of the best bands — amazing bands — playing. In New York City, we had MIA, Interpol, Mark Ronson — and we had incredible art installations — all in one building. Frankly, it was too much to experience in a single day. That led us to planning multiday events.”
In 2011, The Creators Project was the first-ever creative partner for Coachella — one of the world’s premier music and arts festivals — and reimagined the event by creating groundbreaking visual experiences. The project collaborated with acts such as Arcade Fire and Interpol to enhance their performances. It also unveiled a series of original, large-scale artworks, including United Visual Artists’ reinvention of Coachella’s main stage and Muti Randolph’s Sahara Tent installation. For the first time, The Creators Project billed international bands from China, Korea and Brazil and also showcased interactive works by Mark Essen, Lumpens, Feng Mengbo and Hojun Song in The Creators Project tent.
The original artworks created for Coachella were unveiled as the first series of projects from The Studio. For example, J. Spaceman (from Spiritualized, a U.K.-based space rock band) and Jonathan Glazer (director of Radiohead’s OK Computer video and the film Sexy Beast) created a light and sound installation. The installation was a physical manifestation of Spiritualized’s iconic track “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space,” and was presented in a cathedral-like space designed by the architecture firm Undisclosable.
“I had an interesting conversation with Jonathan Glazer,” says Simon. “He was amazed that, despite the technical difficulties, the finished project was exactly what he had envisioned. So often, projects end up being only a third as good as the original idea. Vice and The Creators Project stood behind Glazer’s and Spaceman’s idea 100 percent.”
To become part of The Creators Project and The Studio, check out the application process on The Creators Project website. Notes Haroldson: “We are enabling artists all over the world to build new things with the caveat that they need to push technology.”
“Visual experience is our top-level brief,” says Simon. “It’s not enough that someone be a great electronic musician. There also has to be a visual element. And it’s essential that the Creators want to be involved because this only works if the Creators are enthusiastic. We’re not paying them to be part of the project.”
“We have a mix of emerging artists and leading artists,” continues Simon. “There has to be some aspirational aspect to The Creators Project for emerging artists to get included in the program and feel like, ‘Wow, I’m hitting the big leagues.’”
Globally, that approach helps artists who are well-established in their home countries to gain exposure abroad. “We can help a Chinese artist get recognized in the U.K., for example,” says Simon. “The same goes for someone like Diplo, who’s arguably quite famous in the States — but by being featured on The Creators Project website, his profile gets a couple million hits in China.”
The Creators Project is a balance between passion for the arts and an intimate connection with technology, as well as the culture surrounding the two. By supporting and showcasing emerging and established Creators and their work, Vice hopes to demonstrate that the status quo is simply not good enough.