User Preferences: Tech Q&A With Interactive Artist Rajeev Basu
Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do. The questions are always the same, the answers, not so much. This week: Rajeev Basu. Click here for more User Preferences Tech Q&As.
The Creators Project: Who are you and what do you do?
Rajeev Basu: My name is Rajeev Basu. I am a 27-year-old British artist currently living in Boulder, Colorado. I create interactive art that lives online or offline. I like to create things that make people laugh, or piss people off. Sometimes both. Most of all, they’re things that get talked about. I also like clip art.
My latest project is called TUMBLY. It’s a web toy that lets you hijack websites with animated GIFs. It was made in collaboration with Dutch artist Jordy Van Den Nieuwendijk and tech whiz Yiarrnis Poulakas. The GIFs appear in random formations on the page that you hijack, which results in some pretty unexpected interactions with the page. Each of the hijacks below have been given special arty names to make them sound more pretentious.
Cat Reacts Badly to Iphone 5 (2012)
Hanging by the Gagosian (2012)
Yet There Was Something on My Face (2012)
Another recent piece is EEP EEP EEP EP. This was a global interactive music project to create music out of one of the world’s most annoying sounds – alarms. Car alarms, house alarms, sirens, they’re all in there. The resulting tunes were pretty amazing. You can hear them online at the German gallery Fach & Asendorf.
Keep Calm and Tear It Down were a series of downloadable posters that set to challenge the cliched Keep Calm & Carry On posters you’ll find on creative office walls around the world. These new posters offer more cutting and relevant messages to the unmotivated and no nonsense folk of today.
Keep Calm and Tear It Down (2012)
The Gay Alphabet was a project that grew out of a defunct ad agency brief, that I went ahead and made anyway. In the UK, right wing groups and the church were accusing certain magazines of glamorizing and recruiting people into the ’gay lifestyle.’ That’s rubbish, of course. But that raised the question, if they did do a ‘recruitment campaign,’ what might that look like? This was the result. Made with no money, it was picked up by TV stations and even landed on the YouTube homepage. It was pretty polarizing. Most people got the joke, but we were lucky enough to also receive some death threats.
The Gay Alphabet (2009)
What hardware do you use?
Macbook Pro, Windows PC, pen and paper, Canon 7D, Leica X1 and a Jambox.
What software do you use?
Notepad and several CD-ROMs of clip art.
What piece of equipment can you simply not live without?
My 540MB Iomega Jaz drive.
If money were no object, how would you change your current setup?
I’m happy with my setup. If money were no object I’d love to learn from the geniuses at MIT, or at the RCA in London.
Is there any piece of technology that inspired you to take the path you did?
The Amstrad CPC464. It had one of those computer screens that only displayed shades of green. I remember my dad buying me a magazine called Amstrad Action. Software ran off tapes that would take over an hour to load. I would copy BASIC out of the Amstrad manual. I didn’t really understand what it was, but it made fun patterns.
What’s your favorite piece of technology from your childhood?
Our Casio keyboard. I liked to hit the demo button then play along as though I was really good. I was really good.
What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?
Shazam for people’s faces. My favorite bit would be when you shove your phone right in their face. My second favorite moment would be when it identifies them incorrectly.