Martín Bravo, is a Chilean-born designer, artist and pseudo-programmer who is currently attending NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.
We had the pleasure of meeting Martín and experiencing his interactive Skittish Tree installation at ITP’s 2011 Spring Show. While we worked to create the new application of Skittish Tree for JS55 Gallery, we asked him some questions about his work, influence and process.
"Magic occurs when technology is invisible."
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE WORLD AROUND YOU THAT INFLUENCES YOU WORK?
Everything. Especially those magic situations where what is happening seems completely impossible, so you assume it’s rendered, but then it’s actually happening for real. That’s the case with magnetic powder being affected by a magnet, for example.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK CONNECT DESIGN, TECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN EXPERIENCE?
I try to use technology in such a way that the user doesn’t immediately recognize the mechanisms of how a certain piece is working. Magic occurs when technology is invisible.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR PROCESS, WHAT LEAD YOU TO CREATE THIS WORK?
Skittish Tree is the product of a personal obsession with the recursive functions in programming, which are parallel to recursion in nature. The way leaves, flowers, shells –or trees– are built is almost mechanical, but not.
I’ve always been fascinated by the capacity of nature of creating groups of millions of similar –but not equal– units that work together generating a system that is bigger than the parts. And the key difference with mechanical machines is that each unit is different to the others, yet similar in essence. My attempt was to find the right amount of variation for creating something that doesn’t feel mechanical.
I was also interested in the results of applying alien behaviors to entities that are not supposed to have them. In this case, the behavior of a skittish animal like a rabbit, for example, now seen in a tree. I like the disconcerted reactions that this awkward relationship generates.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES FOR YOU WHEN YOU CREATE PERSONAL WORK VS. COMMISSIONED WORK?
I personally enjoy working for clients as much as working in my personal projects, for different reasons. I find the challenge of “reading” people and their needs fascinating. In this context, more than to serve my own interests, I focus on understanding the needs of the client and match them with the needs of the final users of the designs I’m creating. Also, the opportunity of creating beautiful pieces for massive audiences is very appealing to me.
When it comes to working on personal projects, to me it’s more about playing and having fun with things I’m curious about. Try different ideas and see what happens. As there is no context or requirements the cost of failing is very low, so you can take more risks, and that’s a luxury.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR WORK?
I see a piece as a success if the person interacting with it leaves with an enjoyable memory, having experienced magic.