SV Showcase: FLOAT

On July 13, 2017, StandardVision premiered its latest installment in the SV Showcase series – Summer Sweet Wave featuring work by FLOAT. We had the chance to sit down and talk with Kate Parsons and Ben Vance about their practice, how they met, and what they have in store for the future!

How did you guys meet?

We met on Tinder! Neither of us wanted to be on there but our friends kept encouraging us to “get out there.” And this is what happened…look what they’ve done!

Tell us a little bit about how you came to create “Prismatic Paradise.”

We started with icons of summer and California, palm trees and birds of paradise. We wanted to represent them both in an iconic and infinite way. Kate has done a lot of work with video feedback, so we combined that technique with some of the 3D work we’ve been doing and edited it together after doing a bit of color tweaking. We were aiming for lush colors and dynamic visuals, capturing an otherworldly, relaxing summer.

Kate, you have a more traditional fine art background, and Ben, you have a background with gaming studios. Could you tell me how you two mesh these different approaches and collaborate?

We’re a little bit more overlapped than it first seems – Kate has experience with a lot of different technologies, both analog and digital, and I have an education in fine art as well. We often work in a collage fashion, mixing elements to see what works. This can be hard to do with some digital tools. But we’ve built up ways of doing it in game engines like Unity which can speed up the experimentation process — we may have to write a bit of code upfront but we don’t have to wait for renders. Often, Kate will take beautiful footage, shot with a DSLR, and heavily process it through both analog and digital methods to produce rich and evocative visuals. We then bring this into Unity and work with it there, using it in unusual and unorthodox ways for our VR pieces.

You recently exhibited a VR piece “the Float Museum” with SFMoMA. Do you think that this is the future of the museum space? Where do you see yourselves taking this?

We are confident that it will be a complement to traditional museums. We’re part of a line of digital and virtual galleries who have sought to create alternative spaces for digital work, and ours in particular focuses on making the “impossible” possible. We partner with artists to bring their practice into VR in a way that makes sense, but hope to push each individual to create work that defies expectations…as well as physics.

We see it is a long term project–an institution, really–which seeks to integrate a future-embracing culture but also integrates the past. Once we’ve secured proper funding, we’ll have rotating exhibits, curated by some of the most innovative curators we know.

What else are you involved in? Do you have any crazy cool experiments that you’re working on?

Yes, many things! We continue to work on interactive art in VR as well as AR. We continue to push on the boundaries of VR with the FLOAT Museum and Irrational Exuberance. We also have a couple of music-focused projects that we’re really excited about. We have some work that may pop up in unexpected places, and we have a bunch of really wonderful collaborators in both the art world and the music world.  Lots of things we we can’t talk about yet. 🙂

What’s next?

We had so much fun creating Prismatic Paradise, we’re going to do more video and cross-media experiments. You’ll see us at some events around LA and elsewhere – like one of our VR projects at LAWeekly and Dublab’s ArtTopia this August at Union Station. Kate is teaching at UCLA this summer and at PCC and CSUN this fall, and is planning the next Femmebit Festival, a female-centric video art festival here in LA. You can find info on our latest pop-ups, projects and experiments at http://float.land.