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Art Hack Weekend: Beijing--Artists And Geeks Unite To Create Brand New Works

Last Friday, a week before the official opening of the 2012 Maker Carnival, The Creators Project kicked off Art Hack Weekend in Beijing in partnership with BEIJING MAXPACE. With special support from Open Youthology, we invited 40 artists, engineers, and programmers to join us in running this 48-hour marathon celebrating technology.

40 creative talents and experts in technology—including our own Creators Xu Wenkai (aaajiao), Vega Wang, and Ray Lei—met together on Friday night. In no more than an hour, some lively discussion on different possible themes arose among the groups, drawing attention away from the BBQ lamp chops. While some groups hit it off immediately, others became deadlocked in opposing opinions on research methods, and some struggled to decide between using philosophical or practical approaches. The late-night discussions continued until morning and ended, as all good scholarly discussions do, with a freestyle session.

Saturday went on with more debates, preliminary studies, changing plans, purchasing supplies, and experimentations in woodworking, sewing and programming. In the midst of the creative atmosphere, two unexpected makers, one American and one Swedish, came into the Youthology House with a second-hand automatic mahjong table that they just bought in the nearby hutongs. They joined the workshop immediately, planning to make an LED-laden, musical ma-jiang table.

On Sunday, we finally began to see the fruits of each group’s labor. A few pleasant surprises turned up in some of the groups that were previously in dispute. Musicians started to join in at the post-production phase. The atmosphere during the final hours became a bit mellower.

Finally, our judges selected winners. The panel included The Creators Project Global Manager, Hosi Simon; Editor of The Outlook Magazine, Cheng Jiao-jiao; President of Chinese-German Cultural Exchange Association, Tao Ling; the curator of China Museum of Digital Art, Yang Lei; and founder of the BEIJING MAXPACE, Guo Haoyun. The Creators Project will fund the winning project, which will be presented at the UCCA in September during The Creators Project: Beijing 2012.

It was a tough decision for the judges because all the results were so astonishingly innovative. Who knows? Maybe some of them will become the next cool cross-discipline collaboration. Before we release our documentary with more information, let’s check out some exciting outcomes from the Art Hack Weekend!


Winner #1: Nocturne is an interactive piece controlled by Kinect. Numerous zippers are placed on a board covered with black fabric. Unzipped, each zipper will emit a mysterious blue light and will create different ghostly sounds. This is probably the sexiest blackboard we’ve ever seen.


Winner #2: Wearable Music is made of color strips that are attached with velcro, or painted onto a t-shirt. A webcam captures and reads the color strips and decodes them into music that can be played back. If this device is fully developed, it could become a tool for reading graphic clothing, turning images and colors into music so that you can hear your shirt playing songs.


A group consisting of new media academics, an editor from a technology channel, a lovely visitor from the Shanghai Hackerspace known as Xin Che Jian, and a DJ came up with a series of installations that ranged from visual projections to eco-friendly watering devices. What made a lasting impression on us was the S(h)ocking! project. When you tickle the bottom of the plastic model feet wearing Happy Socks, it alters the facial expressions of the teammates that are projected on the wall.


Cloud allows you to enter into an improvised webpage. Upon searching a keyword, the projection will find people who are also interested in the same keyword through social media. Their faces will form a network. The end product was a cloud that consisted of mostly DJs and VJs.


Beginners is a musical instrument made with wooden sticks, spoons, a touch device, and wine glasses filled with water. It’s capable of playing a small segment of “Ode to Joy.” This was the most fully developed project of the night. The different sounds and pitches produced by the wine glasses was tested throughout the afternoon.


DataSpectrogram is a data transformer created by our Creator Liao Wen-kai(Aaajiao) and Liu Xiao-guang. Essentially, the project a piece of software that captures images and represents them as sound and light spectrums.

Stay tuned for our full-length documentary video of Art Hack Weekend: Beijing!

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