Thu, 16 Feb 2023 08:06:00 GMT
What gives meaning to creativity? For many millions, perhaps even billions, of people, the arts have provided a way to make sense of a confusing and chaotic world - life’s sanctuary amidst the storm. But Daniel Iregui pushes against the boundaries of that idea. For the digital artist and founder of Iregular, ‘intensity’ has always been the watchword both of the work which inspires him and that which he creates. For Daniel, art is not the sanctuary; it’s the storm.
After he points it out, it’s easy to see that thread of intensity running through Daniel’s work. However, this is not a violent or aggressive brand of intensity - but rather the intensity required to open minds and confront big ideas. Take As Water Falls, a virtual interactive waterfall presented earlier last fall at Place des Arts in Montréal, after premiering just outside London. What looks - and sounds - like a waterfall upon closer inspection appears to be an array of disparate objects and concepts, fed into random algorithms to be turned into infinite waterfall patterns. Added mirrors, together with real water, bring extra immersion to an installation designed to address “all the emotions, thoughts, and dreams experienced during the pandemic”, and provide “a reminder of everything that we need to face and process as we move forward”. In Daniel and Iregular’s work, there is always more than what meets the eye.
Above: As Water Falls uses artificial intelligence to create an infinite number of waterfall-like audio-visual patterns.
It’s a project which is indicative of a singular, restless creative mind - one that is invariably looking ahead to some new idea or innovation.
“It all began with music,” recalls Daniel, reflecting on his first creative inspirations. “First came guitar, then drums - and I never stopped since.”
A keen drummer to this day, Daniel remembers with glee how he first discovered the sensation of sinking his teeth into an utterly new creative medium. “Playing metal with my friends was a huge moment - synchronising our instruments and being as technical as we could be,” he says. “We were more inspired by classical music than rock, in truth.” To imagine Daniel as a drummer, think more of Dave Lombardo of Slayer, or Igor Cavalera of Sepultura.
It was a few years later down the line from those drum sessions, however, that Daniel’s creative imagination truly caught fire. “The creative skill I’ve probably developed more than any other in life is programming,” he says. “That moment was like a train smashing into my brain - in a good way! It was like gaining a superpower. I could draw shapes with mathematical formulas!”
From that moment, though he might not have quite known how, Daniel’s creative destiny had been set. Initially working as a web developer “creating experiential websites”, there’s a clear, straight line to be drawn from Daniel’s discovery of programming to the kinds of interactive physical installations the artist creates today at Iregular.
And, for Daniel, there’s a satisfaction in looking back on how he charted that course. “I loved developing sites online, but I could never shake the feeling that I was pushing my work into a black hole,” he says. “With our physical work, however, I love how you can see a reaction from participants. It’s that moment where you can look into the eyes of someone who has connected with your work - a moment of sheer humanity.”
As a creative who takes inspiration from those kinds of direct interactions, the pandemic posed a unique challenge to Daniel. But, again, the artist found a way to incorporate it into his work.
A study into how we are ‘becoming increasingly jaded and disconnected’ from other people, 2021’s ANTIBODIES represented another fascinatingly intense creative showpiece from the Iregular team. “With the sudden switch to video conferencing, most of the humans in our lives became portraits - we didn’t experience each other as humans but instead as flat images on screens,” he says. “It was incredibly disconnected. So our question was how to take that and turn it into an exhibition which highlighted its essential absurdity.”
The resulting piece was a fascinating dive into the psychology of the pandemic and into self-awareness. “In real life you only see others around you, never yourself, whereas in this “new normal” scenario you are also in the crowd you perceive - which can provoke a plethora of emotions from susceptibility to restraint and insecurity,” reads the blurb on Iregular’s site.
Above: ANTIBODIES was available for audiences in Montreal, Madrid, Munich, Seoul, Dallas, Chicago, Miami and Dubai.
Like so much of Daniel’s work, ANTIBODIES is also a testament to Iregular’s broader creative powers as a studio. “I spent ten years producing all of my work on my own, almost as a one-man band,” he says. “And now I’m able to call on a team who are much more advanced than me! There are programmers at Iregular who will regularly blow my mind. So now my challenge is to reflect on my philosophy in order to better communicate with that team. I never want to tell them to use a certain colour - I want to explain why I want to use a certain colour.”
On the other side of that relationship, working as part of that team presents a unique creative opportunity. Olivier Gagnon, Iregular’s chief revenue officer, explains that “Iregular’s style, artistic integrity and way of engaging with the public caught my attention. When I met Daniel, I was impressed by his ability to understand human behaviour towards digital art and use that understanding to create artistic pieces which are deep and fun in equal measure.”
There’s no denying the idiosyncratic nature of Daniel’s creative approach. Reflecting on his body of work as a whole, he says “I never set out to imitate nature - I prefer work which is synthetic and almost cold. The humans who experience our art should also be its humanity. The art itself is almost a kind of system - set boundaries within which humanity can play.”
Another word Daniel uses to describe this theme, a word which crops up time and again throughout our conversation, is ‘randomness’. “If you look at the way a river flows, it might look random to you - and to an extent it is,” he explains. “But look closer and you’ll see that its path has been predetermined by its surroundings - the water moves to fill the space it finds most convenient. That’s what I want our art to do, to provide environmental control to channel the energy of an audience towards a destination. We might not even know where we’re taking people… and that’s part of the fun.”
Going back to that original question on the meaning of creativity, we begin to see Daniel’s answer. For him and Iregular, creativity isn’t about prescribing meaning to an audience - handing out a predefined message and sending folks back home. Rather, it’s about crafting a space in which we can find our own meaning, the answers to the questions that matter to us.
It’s a lofty ambition, but one which suits Daniel perfectly. The ‘random’ philosophy behind Iregular’s work means that it's impossible to see where the studio might head next. But one thing is certain - it will be unpredictable, it will be challenging, and it will be intense. Perhaps that’s just how art should be.view more - Company Profiles
Genres: Storytelling, PeopleIregular, Thu, 16 Feb 2023 08:06:00 GMT