The Creators Project: You have a job that you describe as getting paid to play. How did you get to the point where you can do that?
Lumpens: My major in college was visual communication design, and I had interests in various social cultures like music and dance. The best way to express all that together was through video. And video doesn't have to be simply seen through a screen -- we try to escape the frame and expand out into various other art forms.
What does it mean to escape the screen?
Escaping the screen allows us to interact with the audience. Technology has evolved tremendously in recent years. It has opened up the areas that artists like us are able to enter into and make more interesting. I think the biggest influence has been the improvement in hardware technology, the machines and parts we use to create these effects.
Have you always been interested in technological developments and hardware?
No, not necessarily. In a way we are novices in terms of hardware and software. To make up for it, we try to think of the story first and worry about how we are going to express it later. During college we focused our studies more on concepts and emotions.
How did you come up with the name Lumpens?
According to my understanding, the word is German and means a class “lower than the bourgeoisie.” During high school my professors called me that because that’s how I was working -- in a small room looking all disheveled and whatnot. It was a school nickname, but I think it fits well with the kind of job we're doing. And, also, I didn’t want be classified as bourgeoisie, but as the best of the Lumpens.
For most of your projects, the line between pure art and commercial endeavors is blurry at best. Do you view this as a positive development?
I think it’s good. In fact, I think it should have happened a long time ago. But I don’t think it’s because the advertising companies have become more artistic. It's because we live in an age when everyone wants new things every minute -- things that are newer than new things, actually. Since technology has developed exponentially, artists like me are able to create and express beyond the previous limited realm of galleries and museums. That’s why advertising companies find and request our work -- to show that they are bold enough to try something new.
Many of your projects are so big and bright, it’s difficult imagine how you thought of them in the first place.
I think our brainstorming process is similar to other designers. First we think about the concept, then we make a storyboard, brainstorm, create images, and connect them to complete it. For example, why does that tree shake the way it does? What kind of emotion does that tree shake with? What if the leaves weren’t leaves but cigarettes? We experiment with those kind of ideas as if we were gods. (laughs)
What do you think video art and commercials will look like in 20 years?
The world's expectations of what they hope to get out of the marriage of art and technology keeps climbing higher. I guess that becomes the impetus for better collaborations between artists and the people with the power to pay us. This obsession with new and newer things actually causes people to look to the past. When you see commercials from the 60's and 70's today, they’re hilarious in the ways that they’re dated. Who knows what we'll come up with next.