Sitting in a bike shop turned start up office, four members of vurv crack jokes about their unlikely origin story on I-35. Turns out, vurv was the product of a car ride conversation between Austin and Dallas.
“We went to Aurora Light Festival up in Dallas two years ago,” explains Adam Zeiner (Adam2), art and design director and self-titled “gap filler.” “We all met through the interactive installation meetup in town. [At those kinds of events] you get those creative juices flowing and then you leave and it subsides. I wanted that feeling, I didn't want it to go away.”
vurv is a local interactive media arts collective. You might have seen one of their projects, Flow Factory, around town last year.
“It was funded by the City of Austin Art in Public Places TEMPO program,” elaborates Adam Carnes (Adam1), who handles the collective’s creative direction and project management. “We got the grant and got to produce a pop up installation that appeared in four different spots around Austin.”
Flow Factory incorporated the 90’s toy “Skip It” into a visual display that participants interacted with. Naturally, the large visuals and people skipping in place brought crowds to vurv’s pop ups. For the members of vurv, executing projects that leave lasting memories for their participants fuel their enthusiasm to keep innovating and creating.
“A big thing for us and something that's becoming more prevalent is our footprint. We can do cool work for the sake of doing cool work. But at the end of the day that's not satisfying for any of us. Because we could just go make a cool thing and it's whatever. Or we can make something that we really give a shit about that actually benefits a greater good. You go home and you feel good and it's fuel to make even cooler stuff,” elaborates Adam2.
A truly exciting aspect of collaborating with vurv is the intersection of their skill, creativity, and motivation. With 11 members, they’re able to tailor teams for each of their projects and play to their individual strengths. As the team gains more exposure and learns from their previous work, vurv is starting to specifically choose projects that not only present a technical challenge but also have a social impact.
“We want to create cool, interesting art that’s intricate in production techniques,” states BJ Thomas, art director and visual programmer. “The project with you guys gives us something where we're not just starting something and then maybe it fills the silence. No, we're actually really chasing something here.”
For Austin’s Very Own: Soul Train Edition, the team is creating an immersive dance floor to capture the energy of our community.
“What we want to do that's different is we want the people on the dance floor to actually be a part of those visuals. For part one we're going to use that infrared camera on the dance floor then splice with some really cool trippy fun Soul Train inspired visuals,” elaborates Adam1. “Part two is the visuals are also reactive in real time to the music that's happening.”
With interactive media, the user can become part of the artwork and not just stand and observe from afar. With an event like Austin’s Very Own, where the audience is already ready to get down and show out, vurv is leveraging the unique appeal of interactive art.
“I mean, with events like this the experience is all about the music and the crowd,” reasons Kevin Reilly, researcher and engineer. “And so we really wanted to take that and merge them together.“
As you’re reading this, vurv is probably testing their cameras and shooting last minute ideas to each other on Slack. Help their art come to life by being a part of Austin’s Very Own: Soul Train Edition and show them some love on Facebook and Instagram!