Zach was Scottish Ballet’s first Digital Artist in Residence and spoke at CI Labs #5: Performance in Motion. He told us more about his practice, why he is inspired by the ancient Greeks and how advances in technology have affected his work.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Zachary Eastwood-Bloom and I am an artist. I mainly think of myself as a sculptor, but I use a broad range of media in my work including sound, dance, and drawing. However, given that most of the media I use relates to aspects of three dimensions, I guess I’m a sculptor.
How have developments in technology over the last few years changed the scope and possibilities of your work?
The main way I think is through increased availability and reduction in costs. I tend to come from the ideas side of things first and then work out how to execute an idea through technological means. Quite often my ideas can be extremely costly, and I have to navigate production accordingly, but I think digital making technologies and software are generally becoming much more accessible and practical. For example, fifteen years ago, I had only seen tools like 3D printers in universities, now there are many places people can access them and the cost of purchasing them is less than it used to be. As digital tools have become more accessible, so has the availability of information about how to use them, making it easier for artists to experiment with technology as part of their practice.
Who do you take inspiration from in making creative/artistic work from data?
The ancient Greeks, they didn’t have ‘data’ as we perceive it, so they came up with mythological stories to rationalise their world and give reason for things like natural phenomena, medical problems, constellations etc. Now we have a lot of data, and a slightly clearer understanding of our world and the universe, although I have no doubt though that in a few hundred years time we’ll be looked back on as relatively primitive. The inspiration I take from this is the relationship between information and narrative or stories and facts. We’re still making it up as we go along, at least until a more reasonable explanation comes along.
What makes a good team for a data-driven creative project?
Interesting question. I mostly work on my own, and I try to do as much as I possibly can myself, but if it’s a project where I do not have the skills or the knowledge for specific tasks then I try to find people who can help me. I mostly find through personal recommendations. As much as it is about a collaborator’s abilities, it is also about personality, a good team has to get on well, enjoy the process and also not be withdrawn when it comes to offering ideas or solutions.
What excites you about Edinburgh’s creative community at the moment?
There is a buzz in Edinburgh at the moment, at least in creative technological areas. One of the areas I am interested, and excites me the most, is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and the possibilities of exploring these technologies for sculptural means. Personally, I would really like to find collaborators to explore this for a project and I think Edinburgh would be the place to do it.
How important is R&D in the creative industries?
Very. I hate the idea of doing the same thing or making the same art work all the time. Stagnancy stinks. Development is massively important and in order to do that you need to research. As a species we are naturally inclined to research and develop, without our curiosity and desire to improve things, life would be very different to what it is today. It is no different in the creative industries. Keep learning!
For more information on Zach’s work, visit: http://www.zacharyeastwood-bloom.com