Q&A With Shane Walter: Co-Founder Of onedotzero
Shane Walter is CEO, creative director, and co-founder of onedotzero, a company that’s been exploring new forms and hybrids of the moving image for many years. Each year they hold a festival, onedotzero_adventures in motion, which showcases new talent from around the globe, along with workshops, discussions, and live events. It’s a chance for Londoners to get their digital rocks off and bask in the neon glow of audio-visual installations. The festival kicks off today and runs until 14 November at the BFI Southbank.
The Creators Project: How did the onedotzero_adventures in motion festival come about and how long’s it been going on?
Shane Walter: onedotzero is 14 this year! It started at an interesting time. Digital tools were suddenly accessible and not so costly and this opened up a whole range of potential moving image-makers to thrust their work and ideas into motion. The first festival had new work specially produced for the event from a range of creators who worked mainly in disciplines such as graphic design and illustration—people who were already using Macs and visual software, but then adding a timeline to their work. The idea was to challenge the conventions of cinema from a visual and narrative perspective, exploring and developing new aesthetics and new storytelling from a new roster of voices—voices that were previously excluded from cinematic production and creation.
What criteria do you use to select the films?
The artists and works in onedotzero have always been chosen for their collaborative spirit, artistic invention, and distinctive expression no matter where the creators come from. We have an accent on visual storytelling and a graphic aesthetic, but we really want to show distinctive and original visions in modern moving image.
You have a special section “Ladymation” dedicated to female animation directors, do you feel they’re under represented in the industry?
Yes, female talent is totally under represented across the creative industry. Without being tokenistic we wanted to show there are great [female] talents out there breaking new ground by spotlighting them in one programe. No two films are the same: the result is a really dynamic and diverse body of work from both established creators and emerging talent.
One of your workshops is hosted by BAFTA about the convergence of cinema and gaming. Is gaming finally being taken seriously and can it rival film as a medium?
Gaming is a totally immersive and highly creative artform that in some ways is the kind of modern entertainment for our century so far. onedotzero has always highlighted this back in our early festivals and it’s great to see the gaming sector build with such weight and power. It totally rivals film as a medium and is being taken very seriously, out-grossing Hollywood blockbusters and attracting talent across the creative range from directors to musicians, animators to architects. We have a great panel where SPOV will show and talk about exclusive sequences from the soon-to-be blockbuster game Call of Duty: Black Ops, launched a few days ago.
How have technological advancements in the last five years changed the way films are made? What are the trends you’re seeing at the moment?
I feel there is a definite digital culture now and it feels as if we have been living in very exciting times. There have been massive transformations in the last 15 years in so many industries—not just the arts. This is all a backdrop to an ever-evolving creative playground where art forms have collided, hybrid creators have risen and more importantly the appetite of the audience has skewed to a more progressive and diverse entertainment experience. I think we are now at the beginning of a new true revolution as people who have grown up with computers and digital tools are reshaping our world. Cross media thinking, Web 2.0 attitude, communities, and collaborative production are all there now to offer new forms of art that mix and meld cinema with clubbing, theater with photography, graphics with live music, opera with computer gaming. Any organization starting today or wanting to be around in the next ten years needs to embrace this and strive to push forward and not merely ride on the coat tails of innovators. A lot of this thinking is hinged on the convergence and collaboration ethos that onedotzero has championed for over a decade and is still at the heart of.
Data visualization, crowd sourcing, and open source are key pointers at the moment. I have also seen the rise of a new kind of moving image-maker—that of the coder. Coders or programmers were always related to the back room geek dens and not considered to be “creative” types. Now code is, in its purest form, a new raw material that artists and designers can shape and sculpt in myriad ways to create interactive art, generative designs, and stunning motion sequences. I really see this shift having an impact on art, culture, and entertainment as we move forward. The success of Decode: Digital Design Sensations for example at the V&A earlier this year, that onedotzero co-curated, showed the value and interest in this area that manages to merge hi-tech with creativity and in a lot of respects, playfulness.
What are your chosen highlights for this year?
Innervisions, our talks, presentation and workshop strand is always a must—a unique chance to get closer to the creative process, hear from and experience how and why people work the way they do. This year [we’ll] get hands on across: code as a new material, gaming enabling indie filmmakers, and data visualization.
A few other things that are literally unmissable are our free installations:
Transforming pre-modernist paintings using code and motion is moving image artist Quayola in the bespoke multi-screen Topologies in the BFI gallery, featuring a brand new installment of the ongoing strata series.
Eyjafjallajokull by Joanie Lemercier (AntiVJ) is inspired by the Icelandic volcano’s recent eruption. AntiVJ present the latest incarnation of their audiovisual mapping project for the first time in London. This was commissioned by onedotzero and the EMPAC centre following a residency in upstate New York in Troy earlier this year.
Ovei are personal cinema pods. Everyone will want one of these—with a design that would not feel out of place in Stanley Kubrick’s futuristic, seminal film 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s a unique opportunity to experience the festival from within your own personal cinema capsule.
Hellicar & Lewis and Todd Vanderlin’s Feedback is an interactive installation mirror, allowing you a platform to perform—remixing reflections in playful and surprising ways. This is also a onedotzero commission with Camden’s Roundhouse’s CircusFest earlier this year.