Darwin: OK - we are meeting with, Mark Hendrickson. I've had the pleasure of working with Mark. He has done visual work for some performances that I've done. I met him through my friend, Gregory Taylor, and does quite remarkable work. The, the music that we tend to do Gregory and I, and Tom Hamer tends to be really abstract and ambient. And Mark always seems to really hit the right chord with visuals that really support what we're doing. Mark is also a professional media artist. I'll let him explain it a little bit more, but it's really important for us to kind of consider the many ways that you can have media art be your profession. So let's say hi to Mark.
Hi, Mark. How's it going?
Mark Henrickson: It's going good. It's sunny here. So I'm happy. And so far it's been a smooth day here - I'm in San Francisco, so...
Darwin: Okay. Cause you travel a fair amount. And so I was just, wasn't sure where here was at at the moment.
Mark: Yeah. I try to stay put here.
Darwin: Right. So why don't we kick this off by having you tell us what you do?
Mark: Sure. Well, what I do is - there are a couple of ways to look at it, but on a personal side of things, I do what somebody else has termed being an "improvising visualist". I almost always in my personal work, I work alongside a musician or performer, and most of the time I really don't have much of an idea of what's going to happen once we sit down and what comes out the other side of that. So that particular practice for me, I've been doing for about 13 years, maybe a little bit more in a bunch of different contexts. And we can talk about that later and professionally, I work for a company called Teka Maki, and at Teka Maki I wear a bunch of different hats. I do anything from custom media software for interactivity, or I sometimes do show control solutions, where I may have to integrate between lighting and video and audio. And I also will do, for example, projection for that company. And I'll oftentimes do hardware setup. So I do everything from pixel to glass or the whole shebang from one end to the other.
Darwin: Right. Well, that seems to actually be sort of a trait among people who are, you know, who I would term professional media artists, and so far this month we've talked to Andrew Benson, who's juggling many things. We talked to Richard Devine who does a wide variety of musical stuff. And one of the things that sort of is coming clear is that keeping your mind open to a lot of different opportunities is really one of the best ways to approach profession in this case. But my suspicion is that, to have that kind of breadth of activity means that you have to have a really interesting background in some fashion. How, how did you get to the point that you're at?
Mark: Well, it's a story that, could go back quite a ways. So I guess I'll try to find some kind of starting point. It really goes back to music. And from the time I was young music was something that was around our house. When I was a kid, I had piano lessons, I played saxophone. I remember dancing around in my living room to Michael Jackson, that kind of stuff. When I was a kid, you know, my, my mom had a passion for classical music and my dad's like Steely Dan, that kind of stuff. But I was very young as I sang in choir as well, up through the end of high school. And during those years, 13 years, so you kind of go a different direction and I got into electronic music, industrial music and a lot of those things.
And I kind of, I grew up in a relatively small town in the state of South Dakota of all places. And so things like Usenet and the internet became a place where I could get access to funding about different sorts of artists. It's one of the first places I heard about things like Psychic TV and Coil, that kind of stuff. So even in South Dakota, I had a chance from a young age to kind of see a couple of shows that stuck with media that I was thinking about - one was this band Neurosis that used film loops during their show and they just kind of play different film loops and that was visually compelling. And then of course in the mid nineties, around 94, Nine Inch Nails did a tour. We had a lot of visual elements as a primary thing and they still do that kind of work.
So in the late nineties, I ended up moving up to Minneapolis and discovered a set of wonderful record stores and people in that community. And I got much more heavily involved in going to electronic music shows, trying to muck around and make some myself. And I started playing around with things like Logic. Ross Bencia made a thing called Audiomulch and a couple other things that always played with back in the day. Eventually I bought some hardware toys to play with. And so I kind of had this weird intersection - I was listening to a lot of electronics and weird contemporary classical music. And I went down a path of studying things like cultural studies. So it kind of came together in a strange way because cultural studies lets you sort of blend together what you want to in a way it's kind of a practice where you're like, "Oh, what do you want to read about or do - cool!", where you could kind of apply some of it to that.
So music kind of became grist for that mill. And, Minneapolis had a really healthy scene for that. And there was a contemporary arts museum that's still there called the Walker Art Center that was doing a lot of really fantastic stuff. In the late nineties, they brought through a dance troupe called Dumb Type who was doing work with sound artists that I was very interested in at the time called Reo J Cada. So they brought them through twice - a performance called Or and another one called Memorandum. They also brought through Bob Ostertag. They brought through like Thomas Codar with Juergen Haible. And so I was still mucking around with music and I'd been doing some Max patching. I met some professors at the U who are involved in electronic music. And then one day in around 2002, this gentleman Doug Geers introduced me to somebody who needed a programmer, for a software package that proceeded Jitter.
Darwin: Are we talking, are we talking NATO? We can say that out loud. It's been long enough. I think the sores are healed.
Mark: Great. Well anyway, so I spent some time making inroads into NATO and playing with that, patching together a few things. And then around that Christmas time I went home and got a bunch of Jitter documentation and I was like, you know, we really should be using this thing. So if I remember it was beginning in 2003 or so when I started really using it. And so I had the good fortune of pretty much spending the first year having a job where I was writing interactive media art software in Jitter, which was pretty sweet, because I got to learn, you know, I had to learn from the ground up how it worked. Cause prior to that, I didn't have a lot of interest necessarily in doing media work myself.
It was really sound that I was interested in. So I learned how to patch things together. There was a great community at the time and still is so people who are sharing things online, patches that came built in with it. And I didn't really know a lot of people who were using it at the time. So I pretty much learned from pulling apart help patches and that kind of a deal. In 2003, for me, it was also a big year because that's a year- for the first time we really saw people doing live visual work like that, at MuTech I think that year. And I saw a group called 242.pilots perform with Tim Hecker and I was just kind of like, "Oh, that's cool stuff." And there were a number of other really inspiring performances at that.
And by the time later in that year came around, I sort of finished my term as a professional Max programmer of sorts. And I had a bunch of music buddies who were like, "Hey, you can do video stuff. Let's do some shows." So my friend Dave Olson kind of pulled on my sleeve enough to get me to do one, for a night that my friend JP does. And from there I did a whole set of shows with all sorts of dance, music, artists, technologists, that kind of a thing at some point in time, my worlds of that and the computer professors came together in this festival called the Spark Festival. And the Spark Festival was a festival for electronic music and art where, by day it was papers and things like Stockhausen and what was called tape music and that kind of stuff, chamber music, media theater pieces. And by nighttime, it was, weird electronics, noise, dance music, and whatever else goes. And so I had a great opportunity to meet a lot of amazing performance at that point in time. So this was about 2003 to 2006. Around 2006, I kind of took a vacation.
Darwin: It was time.
Mark: It was. I had been doing a lot of performing. I'd got into a place where I was like, okay... And so I moved out West. I kind of bounced around the West coast for a few years doing a performance here, there, and then around, I think about five years ago, I started getting involved in the hardware side of things and I was like, you know, I used to do these events. I used to help out with hardware setup and all of that. And this is kind of where my personal professional life started coming together again in a different way in that I started getting involved in setting up systems for just basic events and it wasn't necessarily music events or anything like this. It was, oftentimes, corporate meetings that kind of a deal, which gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about how to design and build a video system, how to do it with the audio systems, doing lighting and really creating the hardware end of an environment.
And so I did that for a few years. And I did odds and ends of like custom software work for people. And eventually, I came to a company Teka Maki, which initially knew me through some of my software work and then realized I knew how to do some work with the hardware end of things, as well. And it's ended up being a really good fit for me because I can use a number of different software packages to provide front end software solutions for sort of, custom hardware solutions basically. So I guess that's one way to look at how I got to where I'm at now.
Darwin: Sure. Well, it's, it's interesting to me because you have identified for yourself kind of a vein of history that I have come across in talking to other people. So for instance, NATO as an eye-opener for many people was, was a big thing - particularly, seeing, the 242.pilots: that seemed to really activate a lot of people's interest in life performance visuals. And, you know, that seems to be there's this vein that has generated a lot of media artists also. I think it's interesting because your feelings about being in the Midwest and having Usenet and eventually the internet, become an avenue for becoming part of a community is something that resonates with me. You know, I grew up in Northern Wisconsin where my choices were between, being a logger or being a snowmobile repairman.
Those are my professional options. And then to see that, see this enormous world full of people that were all interested in sharing and all happen to live kind of semi off the grid - like me - turned out to be really, really important. It's real interesting background. And I'm curious about a couple of things. First of all, you kind of mentioned how the things that generated your interests really came out of the music. And, it sounds like it was kind of a slow ramp up into working with visuals. First of all, seeing people use it in concert type situations, then seeing performances at the museums and stuff like that. And then getting drawn in by Doug to actually do some work with visual tools. But surely it's not as smooth as that. I mean, for myself, I got drawn into doing visual work - when I do it - almost against my will. I still think of myself as an electronic music person more than a visuals person. When was the point where in your head it kind of switched - or hasn't it yet?
Mark: You know, it took a while of getting out there to do it because I think there was this early exposures to video was that it was this really polished, finished medium. I mean, I saw the tape loops earlier, the film loops early on, but when you go see something like, you know, Nine Inch Nails as a polished video tour, when I was a kid, it was like this huge kind of spectacle. And there's difficulty accessing it like accessibility - even a lot of the dumb work for that kind of a deal. So for me, I was like, "I can't do that stuff." And saying, you know, you gotta sit down for years and years and years and learn all these techniques and methods and all of this. And I think one of the things that started to happen for me is that I found a way to turn it into a personal practice in that, by working with friends in a relatively supportive environment, it became something I felt I could do.
And one of the things I started using for a lot of source material was video that I shot. So a lot of it was personal material that I'd found or by rummaging through sort of cast away material from in the past. So by going through things like archive.org or wherever there was this sort of, to me, a piecemeal and kind of ground up approach to it that made it easy. And by having a friend like JP who allowed me to do a whole ton of shows, I kind of got it out of my system where I got to the point of like, okay, "This is cool. I can do this." And there was a point in time I was doing the show like every week or sometimes more. And it just became part of what I do. The first few shows I really kind of had, was pulled, kicking and screaming to go through them.
Darwin: Well, I think it's interesting, though, that you mentioned JP as kind of an influence. I think that, you know, when we write the history books in the future, he's going to actually go down as being a really super important influence, for people coming out of the Midwest, because for two reasons: one, because he's active at putting together shows and opportunities for people. And, and he does it tirelessly, but secondly, he is probably the most supportive person in the world. It's just, I mean, every time I'm around him, I'm inspired to be more like him and then I leave and then I feel better again.
Mark: Yeah, he does a lot of amazing work in a tireless manner to help educate and facilitate - and his own work is great. And in fact, JP was at one point I was in a band with JP. I guess I could talk about that. So, a lot of the first work I did wasn't as improvisitory, as it was, having to what I felt like was more filling time. It was good work. I loved working with the people I worked with and it was just fascinating, but there was a distinct change in how I approached what I did once I started getting involved in something like the Spark Festival and particularly in a band called Improvised Explosive Device. This was a really great opportunity for me because it was six people in a band.
And pretty much how we performed is I would improvise video. And I was sent video from my friend, Chris Cunningham - there are a couple of Chris Cunningham's, this one is a guitarist and composer. And he does a number of other things. JP was in that band along with Chris Bates, Greg, Judy, and Michael, I, and it was a wholly, almost a completely improvised performance every time. And whether the initiative for what we were doing came from a visual cue of something that I was doing, or the saxophone with the pedalboard was doing something. Things could start at any point in propagate and to other places. And there was a sort of reciprocity that happened in that kind of practice that, I think, I really grew and learned from, and it's one of the things that I think really helped me to get to a different sort of relationship with how I was treating visual material.
Darwin: Tell us a little bit about how you prepare for an improv visual performance. I mean, it can't be easy, but I'll tell you something. One of the things that I know from watching your work is, or at least your work in this improv manner is that you very much have your own voice. I mean, I would see a visual and I would kind of know it was you. And when you're in an improv kind of environment, you're kind of just like having to follow everybody else and sometimes having a deal with expedience more than artistic depth, I would think. But maybe you have your preparations for this that allow you to prepare for making those calls. How do you get there? How do you get ready for a gig?
Mark: This is kind of a strange question because, I don't really do a lot of prep work for gigs, in a sense. I've worked with a lot of different sort of artists, a lot of different sort of musicians. My friend, John, who does stuff as [inaudible] Montgomery Ward, does everything from kind of weird, sound sample, mashed up things to sort of a lot of more textual stuff that Gregory [Taylor] does, to a lot of more dance techno stuff that some other people do or I mess with my friend, Tim does, it's like each context sort of forced me to use the software I use in a different way. And in a sense I've slowly built up an instrument that I've learned how to play, or at least that's how I think about it. Cause I don't think that it's a particularly complex set of tools, but by using this together, back and forth, I can kind of guess about what's going to come out the other side. So by and large, what I'm doing is I'm listening to what's happening or where I think things are going and attempting to follow that if that makes sense.
Darwin: It does, but it also kind of blows blows me away because, again, one of the things that I noticed from watching your work, certainly why I've been playing and stuff has been not only that you tend to be really tightly knit with the performers, but also that there's a pretty wide variety of stuff that you produce. I mean, it's not like you kind of work off of one pallete and run the whole game. You have a number of different and quite dramatic, visual changes over the course of a performance. Is this just the result of how you've developed this instrument?
Mark: I think I may be - one of the things I tend to do is I set up a few things at once, that I can combine or they can affect each other in different ways. It's kind of always having, like, if you're cutting cameras for a shoot or something, you always have something you can cut to. So, on a good day, I always have something I can cut to or use as sort of an offset or a counterpoint to what I'm working on. So there's a sense in which, yeah, I'm kind of getting ready for the unexpected. The unexpected is sort of par for the course when you're working in an improvising context.
Darwin: So as a part of that, then what are the ways that you interface with software? I mean, do you use a control surface? Do you just work off the screen? Do you use - last week when we talked to Andrew Benson, he talked about using, visual feeds as controller type information. What are the mechanisms that you use to alter the content while you're producing visuals?
Mark: Oh, well, for the most part, it's just sliders knobs and buttons - a basic MIDI controller and then the keyboard. And then I kind of have a lot of boxes and sliders on my screen and I can map them to everything. So there's a fair amount of like clicking and dragging that out. But at the same time, the way I tend to set things up is that I can think of my media, I guess, one way to describe what I'm doing is sort of using it like a mixing desk where I have sort of pre- and post-effects ends, and I have sort of cross fades and these sorts of things in there. And so usually what I'll do is I have something like a MIDI controller. This does a lot of those things. And then all of the modules between by and large are done by, you know, poking around in my patch.
Darwin: Sure. Got it. That makes sense. So one of the things that I'm always curious about when I see people - particularly people who tend to produce work that, to me, is immediately identifiable is the process that they go through to make decisions. You know, there's the process of doing any kind of media art is sort of a long chain of decision-making and that in the end is what creates the end result, which either has your voice or it doesn't. And in your case, I always feel like it does. What are the things that are critical decision-making points for you? I mean, is it source material? Is it color palette? Are there decisions that are hardware related, decisions that are software related? Give me a sense of what, what are the things that you're painstaking about your work.
Mark: That's a really good question. And, so for my personal work, really knowing my source material becomes very important to me in the sense that all my coloring comes from source material. So it all comes from what I shoot out of the camera and then working from there. So color palettes become important in that I can abstract things to a point where you can create a color from one sort of a clip going into another clip, but then also compositionally depending how I'm working on something. If there is a lot of light versus dark, hard, quick changes across the field - that thing will be important too. So understanding how I work with this material that I've shot becomes important to me. So the decisions are oftentimes intuitive but decisions based on what I've seen at do before. So perhaps that's why you could recognize that some of my work is that I've developed ways of working with particular clips in a sense.
Darwin: Well, that's kind of interesting because what it means, then, is that while you say that there's not a lot of preparation to a certain extent, every performance is the end result of years of preparation. And maybe that's why, you know, it does make sense to talk about the software and source material combination that you've created it's makes sense to about it as an instrument, because it sounds to me like you've learned to play it.
Mark: I think that's fair. Yeah. I mean, I kind of see every performance I do as an extension of something I've done before. And you know, it was kind of a blessing and a curse at the same time, right? It's like I have this thing that's been slowly building and growing and changing, and I can work a particular way and then moving into really new ways of dealing with material become a challenge. So working, for example, in three-dimensional space and OpenGL is kind of foreign to a lot of what I've done traditionally. But what I'm finding is in the last couple of years, I've started to experiment with it a bit more and I'm finding that there are ways to take my existing language and bring it to that. So you learn how to play an instrument that's kind of slowly changing and kind of learn how to put a new grist in the mill, whether they're the new tools that are being brought into it or new source material.
Darwin: That actually brings up an interesting question for me, which is how do you deal with influences without having them take over your entire creative space? You know, how do you - so let's say that you go to some remarkable show and you see techniques, or you see something that you really fall in love with. How can you incorporate that into your work without just becoming a clone of what you had seen?
Mark: That's a good question. My visual language, or the way I work, is developed in such a personal way, over a long time that I'll see something that I like and all have a lot of respect for it. And it'll sort of vaguely influence what I do. So, one person's work - I've only seen him a few times. There's a guy in San Francisco by the name of Paul Clipson and who does some film work. And I saw him do a show with a band called Barno, it's really far stretched away from, you know, software and media art, that kind of a deal, but the sort of sensibility he has about being able to create an environment with those sorts of things to me has influenced some of the work I do. So, I was asked by a band called Yodoc to do a promotional trailer for something they have coming up. And a lot of that work paid a lot more tribute to the concrete source material that I have. Then the processing I traditionally do. Okay, so it can sort of softly influence what I do, but it doesn't necessarily mean I have to attempt to emulate their work if that makes sense.
Darwin: All right. So it sounds to me like you personally have found a way to embrace influence without taking over. It seems like the process within a media art and particularly visual art is such that it's difficult to completely mock somebody else's work.
Mark: Usually if there's somebody at work who I see, either they're doing something that's very singular and/or they are very, very good at what they do. I personally feel it would be very difficult for me to try to do.... So you just to kind of steer away and be like, "I like that."
Darwin: Yeah. So we've been mostly talking about kind of your personal improv work, but I'd like to also talk a little bit about the professional work you're doing, because it actually kind of meshes in with what you've done from an artistic standpoint, but it also sounds like it's starting to extend what you're doing, as well. I mean, you mentioned kind of the oncoming influences of 3D and OpenGL. Explain a little bit more about what you, what you do with Teka Maki and particularly what kind of software and hardware that you find yourself using in that environment.
Mark: Yeah. So, like I said, I wear a lot of hats at Teka Maki. One day I might be wrenching around in a projector the next day I might be using Max to do, some LED control stuff, or I might be using Touch Designer to do some custom floor projection or interactive work. I will do work with video walls, that kind of stuff as well. My, one platform I've used quite a bit, there is something called D3 - and this is something that some of the UVA guys came up with. One doing some work for U2. And it's something that I use for kind of a show control, projection mapping and sort of systems integration tool. Okay. It's been a really fascinating thing for me because oftentimes what I'll see is coming from a Max background, I think about why I need an oscillator.
I need to do this. I need a shader do this. So here's a slab I need. Then you instantiate objects and you network them effectively, right? In a strange way. When you're building a show nowadays, you're pretty much doing a very similar thing. And they're mostly digital systems. They all have their languages that they speak to each other. There are translations from one language to another effectively. And when you're in a show control environment, it's sort of your job to make sure everything plays nicely and to kind of be a manager of information and kind of a facilitator. So a lot of what I do has to deal with making it so different groups of people can do their jobs in a better way when I get on a larger event. So, for example, last year I was doing some work for one of our clients, Electronic Arts, and we're doing projection map with this reason, the system to do projection mapping and coordinate timelines with lighting and to send cues to accustom openFrameworks system and work as sort of the brains of something.
So you end up solving a lot of similar problems to what you might find when you're patching in a way way. And so one of the things I've found, I have this weird kind of joyous solving things in an elegant way and making things relatively simple. So one of the things I've started to do, is to find ways to make it, so each thing can do what they do well and that whether or not that's within a Max patch, having something that's been modularized in a way that I can use it here, here, here, or whether or not it's finding a way to make a template for a graphics team to create something that can be ingested into a system, which can then be mapped out onto a surface. There's sort of a parallel to the way in which you think in either system. And so I've sort of found that the conjunction between the software front end and the sort of hardware systems that you end up building on an event kind of marry together really nicely.
Darwin: Right. That makes sense. It seems like, what, what you're saying here is something that I've experienced, which is that kind of the, the real frontier action in media art isn't necessarily doing any one process, but it's making all the processes work together simultaneously in some coordinated fashion.
Mark: So to a member of people, it seems as though I'm mostly associated with doing video work or visual work, but usually what I kind of see myself doing is working as part of an ensemble nowadays, or working in conjunction with somebody else. And that's true whether or not it's my personal visual work or whether or not it's what I'm doing professionally. The company is primarily a display technology company, right. But I don't necessarily spend a lot of time necessarily making graphics. I mean, I do make graphics and I do, you know, make my object files and texture map them and light stuff and do all of that great stuff, and enable an activity. But really it's about a sort of dialogue between systems. So you can do something greater than the greater than its parts in a sense.
Darwin: It sounds actually pretty intense because unlike well, I mean, and I say that just because it's one of these things where I try and project myself into that kind of environment, and it goes from me hanging out in my basement, you know, making my face warp in a funny way to all of a sudden have having 15 people standing around tapping their toes, saying "What the hell is going on - get the shit working!" you know?
Mark: Yeah, yeah. You know, that's, that's really interesting. So this, this kind of speaks to the sort of tools you use to do it. So there, the way I think about computers of these systems is they're stacks of technologies, right? So if you talk about networking, you start at copper and then you talk about what your acceptance for how packets come together and what are your protocols and there's layers and layers and layers and layers. Right? And you have to decide at what layer do you start becoming interesting at network traffic, or when you're talking about software systems, at what level do you get interested in writing software or solving problems? Do you want to start at the kernel and Linux, or do you want to start writing, you know, do you want to write C code, C++ code?
Do you want to deal with graphical interfaces? The systems kind of become more fluid, but in the hardware side of things or on the software/hardware side of things, particularly in a professional environment, for me, I feel more comfortable when there's a platform I work on that's relatively open, where some of the sort of really dirty problems of media software can kind of be offloaded to people who are better programmers than I am. When you have 15 people tapping their toes around you, it's really nice to, have something like, a media service solution, like D3 or something where they can worry about, you know, the bandwidth stuff, the queuing times the sort of really kind of more low level integration things and then provide hooks in to solve other problems. So you can worry about other things. Cause a few things are sort of solved for you. So that's something I've started to really see kind of moving between these two worlds, is that they are related in solving different problems, but it's sort of different levels, different levels of risks maybe.
Darwin: Yeah. Risk management is a big part of show control, isn't it?
Mark: Yeah. And she added a show period. Right. I mean like if your patch crashes in the middle of the show....
Darwin: Well I think that's going to be the tagline for this: patching in the middle of the show - it's a problem.
Mark: Yeah. There are people who do it. Yeah.
Darwin: You know, I hear ya. So, one of the things that I find fascinating about people who have this artistic and professional combination as part of their life is how do you manage it? I mean, my experience for myself and other friends who are into this is that nobody's particularly good at managing it because it sort of mixes what you're passionate about with what makes a paycheck. It's sort of like, you're never off the clock. How do you deal with the personal aspects of saying, "Hey, I've got a life and I want to see a movie and eat some sushi" or whatever. How do you manage that part of it? I'm curious because I don't know. I do crap job with that myself.
Mark: Yeah. So since my personal work has almost always been with a improvising live situation, pretty much all, almost all the work I've ever done is in a very specific practice. And like I said, to solving similar problems in my personal life and my professional life, as far as ways of thinking, I think for me, I kind of conceptually split the two. And in a sense, since I'm really in a sense playing a visual instrument, right. I don't necessarily feel compelled to spend a lot of time at home writing Max patches at right now. I mean last year was kind of a fast and furious year for a bunch of different reasons that I did. I was kind of going through a sort of rehaul of a bunch of old patches and ways of working and integrating new things. I kind of had a couple of inspirations last year.
So I sort of do what I do professionally. I can develop a certain skill set for accomplishing that. And then when I do come back to solve things in what I'm doing personally, I can kind of bring those skills to bear on that practice. So maybe it's just kind of this sort of relationship I have. And what I'm doing personally is that I don't typically spend a ton of time when I'm not performing mucking around in my patches. Unless I'm feeling like I said that in the last year or so, or two years where I started getting more involved in doing OpenGL stuff and optimizing things and rewriting some patches that have cobwebs and dust on them, that kind of a deal.
Darwin: Well, I'll tell you one of the things that's interesting is that a lot of people find my patching, the way I patch, to be kind of curious. It tends to be like super-neat and hyper-documented, but I have to point out that because of what I do, you know, in the Max world, it's very likely that any patch I write now I'm going to end up having to crack open five years from now. And I just don't want to embarrass myself. Right?
Mark: Yeah. So that's, that's a huge thing for me. So I've traditionally been like, you know, you see those joke patches where there's cables going everywhere, right? Yeah. For years that was [me].
Darwin: Right. Well, it's just don't ever ask me for help then.
Mark: No, that's, you know, the thing is like I was saying, when I'm doing professionally and coming back to it is as I returned to it that that's really gone out the window. Because you do return to it and you know, doing it sloppy the first time means you're going to come back to it 50 times. Because you did it quick and messy so that these sort of practices or things that have really changed, how I work within that environment when I returned to it. And that's, you know, that's really the reason why I'm dusting off the really old stuff. Is that I take a look, it's like, "Oh man, this was some sloppy stuff." It worked. It did the job. But one of the things that I think is important to do these sorts of things is because, sooner or later, we share patches and what they do and you want somebody else to be able to get something out of it. So there was like a point in time when I had my whole live patch was a button: Github and I eventually took it down, but it was, I don't think anyone else would have wanted to wade through the messy thing that it was, but say, I put it back up and share it again. I want people to be able to dig in, and learn from it the same way I learned from, you know, all the other, all the passions that came with Max.
Darwin: I hear that. I'm always amazed with these conversations, how quickly time flies. And so I apologize for, for that, cause I think we could talk for hours more, but, one of the things I always like to do in, particularly with people who have both an artistic and a professional practice, I feel like they're in a very particular place where they have a chance to interact with the things that may eventually become our future, the common future. What are the things that you see out there and especially in the really high-end tools or the high-end hardware, what do you see out there that's that you think is going to have a trickle-down into the common media arts world?
Mark: So the things about high-end hardware is that there are some really interesting things out there that are being developed, you have, quad-copters and people who are doing sensor stuff with that, you've got transparent display technologies and touch displays and all these other sort of things. But one of the things that I'm finding more inspiring as time goes on isn't necessarily if it's an expensive technology or if it's a new technology, but if it's sort of a compelling way of thinking and working with that. So one of the reasons why my professional work is interesting to me is that I spend a lot of time working on building a physical environment for people and thinking about how people are interacting with that space.
So at a point in time, when a lot of what's happening in technology has to do with exporting what's happening in the box.So you can put it in your pocket right on your face or make it a femoral or something like this, or make it magically happen with your data transmission, from up above. A lot of what is always been inspiring to me is the way in which people think and work with things. So, and I think that's one of the things that really inspired me, but what I saw early on and some of the performance things that I saw, like when I saw the dome-type work or I saw Bob Ostertag and Jaible Haberle, it's not necessarily that they're using really high end stuff. It's more of how you engage with the practice you have. And if, if the stuff you want to do that is new and cutting edge and shiny, that's great. But for me, maybe it's cause I'm a small town Midwestern boy, it's like part of, part of my interest, has to do with making it something that on a wide scale is a compelling thing. Right.
Darwin: Well, Mark, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. This is fascinating insight. Not until not into just what you do, but what makes up the multi-disciplinary artist. I, again, I appreciate both the time and your willingness to sort of spill your guts.
Mark: Sure. Thank you.
Darwin: Any last words for the listeners? Sure. I always spring this on people and it always is a little uncomfortable, but...
Mark: I guess, find your own way of doing things. Find something that's important to you and run with that. You don't always have to necessarily be looking around whatever what else is doing.
Darwin: Well. I think that's actually a great, a great introduction to the whole idea of a profession in media arts. I think all of us that are doing it. If we go back to when we were in school or when we first had the idea that there was a job to be had or a career to be had, there was no to project what we were going to do, back then. And it's being, being able to be both passionate and open to new opportunities. So thank you very much and have a great day.
Mark: Thank you, Darwin.
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