Ebb & Flow 2018: Interview with Visual Endeavors

Ebb & Flow Festival 2018 kicks-off on First Friday June 1, celebrating the San Lorenzo River with innovative forms of art and entertainment happening throughout the day and into the night.

Launched in 2015 by Arts Council Santa Cruz County, the free, two-day festival connects creativity, nature, and community by bringing attention to the San Lorenzo River as a valuable water resource, city park, and habitat for over 200 species of wildlife.

The first day of festivities ends with a public art unveiling of “River Motion”, a commissioned piece by local multimedia artists Rachel Stoll and Aron Altmark. Aron and Rachel are the dynamic team spearheading Visual Endeavors, a production design company that merges art and technology, and elevates the visual, emotional, and immersive experience of live entertainment. Their projects light up diverse environments across the country, including small and large-scale festivals, concert tours, nightlife, art, dance, and theater events.

“River Motion” will use the medium of light art to illuminate the Soquel Avenue Bridge during Ebb & Flow‘s nighttime dance party, which will also feature a DJ and firedancing. Rachel and Aron are also working in collaboration with other sound and dance artists for the interactive installation, “Light/Form”, an extension of the Soquel Bridge project that will be on exhibition at Radius Gallery from June 1 – July 8, 2018. 

Read on for an interview with Visual Endeavors!

Local Santa Cruz: Please share about your upcoming public art installation for Ebb & Flow! What does this project mean to you and what can the public look forward to on June 1st?

Visual Endeavors: For us this project is important since it’s available to the public as a whole and sits at an interesting point of art and technology. “River Motion” is a light art installation that’s being placed on the Soquel bridge as part of the Ebb & Flow Festival as a way to drive connection to the river and inspire curiosity. The piece itself will be informed by data being collected on the river, showing the changes throughout the seasons.

You’ve worked with clients as diverse as Wrestlemania, Coachella, and Gerald Casel modern dance company – What inspires your visual/production designs for such a broad range of collaborations?

We take inspiration from everywhere and that mixed with our varied backgrounds helps us be able to be flexible in who and how we work. Not every project is narrowly focused on production design so that also helps us take other inputs. Sometimes an answer to the challenge/question we’re solving starts with forward-thinking choreography, the music and other times it’s inspired by a more formal creative briefing process. Aron has a much more traditional production design background in dance, theatre and live entertainment whereas Rachel focuses more on art direction and collaboration within VE and then outside writes and paints.

How do the various media you work with enhance live entertainment experiences?

Media helps us connect to the viewer and tell a story. Whether we’re using video screens, lasers, sculptural pieces or interactive experiences, ultimately it has to be visually compelling and cohesive.

How do you see the intersection of art and technology evolving?

Aron: I think that the next area of art is going to be Augmented and Virtual Reality. This is already happening in many mainstream entertainment areas (e.g. Coachella, video games). I’ve been exploring this the last couple of years, but it’ll be interesting to see how the other art fields take this and run with it.

Rachel: Technology will continue to drive new mediums and opportunities for artists, but how it’s used will continue to evolve. The tech itself should never control or constrain the art, but I think we may start to see more controls and constraints because of the inevitable ripple effect of some of these data sharing issues we see in the news. Creators who are using data (like us) may start thinking differently about the process, especially those using personal data to create.

Rachel Stoll and Aron Altmark of Visual Endeavors

Why have you chosen to be based in Santa Cruz? What do you love most about the local community, culture, and environment?

We chose Santa Cruz due to its laid back nature and wide range of outdoor activities. Rachel is primarily a trail runner and Aron mountain bikes. For us coming home to a quiet place where we can do creative thinking and just be is so important for the process.

Follow Rachel Stoll and Aron Altmark at visualendeavors.com

Ebb and Flow River Arts Festival
June 1 and 2, 2018

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