James George and Jonathan Minard aren’t your average documentary filmmakers. Currently fellows at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University (try saying that with a mouth full of peanut butter), the two have used their media arts backgrounds to create a stunning interactive documentary that asks: “What does it feel like to think with code? How can emerging technologies enable us to actualize our dreams? How has online sharing transformed the way artists collaborate?”
The artists and visionaries featured in CLOUDS are a part of a new breed of interdisciplinary artists who have successfully combined software engineering, audiovisual design, cultural engagement, and creative expression:
Over the last year we have captured interviews with over 30 new media artists, curators, designers, and critics, using a new 3D cinema format called RGBD. CLOUDS presents a generative portrait of this digital arts community in a videogame-like environment. The artists inhabit a shared space with their code-based creations, allowing you to follow your curiosity through a network of stories.
Counter to the widespread perception of code as exclusively utilitarian, this generation of hacker-artists struggles to develop new forms of visual expression, expanding the vocabulary of technology to resonate at a deeper human level. In an increasingly data-driven culture, our subjects act as intermediaries who can help us to navigate and make sense of our evolving digital universe.
The CLOUDS documentary Kickstarter project comes in the form of an application for Mac or Windows, ultimately presenting a full-screen, immersive, interactive audio-visual experience. Perhaps one of my favorite parts about their project is their choice to deliver it in the form of a tangible, non-digital good:
CLOUDS was created with an open-source software library developed by the pair for 3D filmmaking with the Kinect. Using a Microsoft XBOX Kinect depth sensor paired with an HD video camera, their toolkit creates the computer-graphic/video hybrid seen in the final product: