DigitalFruit- Elekktronaut/ Bileam Tschepe

DigitalFruit is an interview series from Adafruit showcasing some of our favorite digital fine artists from around the world. As we begin this new decade with its rapidly changing landscape, we must envision our path through a different lens.  Over the next few weeks we’ll feature many innovative perspectives and techniques that will inspire our maker community to construct a bold creative frontier.  The only way is forward.

1. Where are you based?

In Berlin, Germany.

2. Tell us about your background?

I’ve always loved music and I’ve played many instruments in my school years.  I became interested in product, graphic and web design, played around with software like CorelDraw and InDesign and started coding websites when I was 15 years old. Later, my piano teacher introduced me to Ableton, which opened yet another world.

After school, I took a year off to figure out what I actually wanted to do and luckily I wasn’t pressured by my parents. I discovered Interaction Design and, having done graphic and web design as a hobby and having tried out some Processing, I was quickly drawn to it and started studying in 2015.

During this time, my focus shifted more and more from design to art. I discovered TouchDesigner in early 2019 and felt like, this is something I have to learn- it’s the future. So I sat down and learned it by watching tutorials and experimenting on my own (most of my hobbies before were self-taught as well). After a while, I started recording tutorials and suddenly, a lot of people became interested in what I do.

Now I am doing my bachelor’s (with TouchDesigner) at the School Of Popular Art Berlin and will then transition into being a freelancer and an online teacher. It’s wonderful to be able to do what I love, share it with others and to even be able to make a living from it, thanks to Patreon and lots of lovely people supporting me there.

And it’s great because I am fusing different interests (music, coding, digital art) to create something new and exciting.

3.  What inspires your work?

It’s a mixture of many things. Mostly I’d say, my inspiration comes from nature and natural patterns and structures. I generally try to make my art look organic and natural. Inspiration also comes from inside, like images appearing when I listen to music or while meditating. Other people’s work inspires me greatly- Instagram is pretty perfect for this kind of scene. Often, my work is based on techniques that I discover or learn through tutorials and then I just experiment with them, trying to push them further.

4.  What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m completely focusing on my bachelor’s project. I’m building a system for audiovisual live performances, which allows easy collaboration with musicians. So I can just meet up with DJs or bands and create visuals for and with them. It also includes a UI so I can manipulate the generative visuals live on stage. And I’m focussing on organic art here as well, diving deeper into techniques and looks that resemble natural forms and structures, which I am also writing about.

5.  Describe your process and what tools you like to use.

I am using TouchDesigner exclusively at the moment, though this might change in the near future. It’s just such an intuitive way to create art and interactive systems.

My process varies quite a bit and depends greatly on the kind of project that I am working on and whether it’s for a client or myself. If it’s for a client, they usually (hopefully) have some idea of what they want. Then I often make notes and scribbles and analyze the song they send me for example, so I can make a music video for it.

If it is for myself (except for big projects like the bachelor), I often take techniques that I’ve used before (I am currently in love with feedback systems) and change and expand them.

6.  What does your workplace or studio look like? Do you work in silence or listen to music while you work?

I just have a big desk and my computer, as well as some lovely speakers. I wish to be able to afford a studio separate from my living space in the future.

Music can really help me to get into a flow, especially when I’m working on something visual. When I have to think, like when I’m building a complex system for my bachelor project, I usually have to do so in silence.

7.  How has technology shaped your creative vision?

This is difficult to put into words. I’d say technology has greatly if not completely changed the way I think about an idea or project. The tool you use has its possibilities and boundaries and because I’ve used TouchDesigner so much lately, I tend to think sort of in the way the software works.

When I see other people’s work or patterns in nature, I cannot just see them, I instantly think about how (and when) I can recreate it myself.

8.  Any tips for someone interested in getting started in the digital art form?

Experiment. There are so many interesting softwares and programming languages out there (and lots of them are free), so I’d say just watch some tutorials and get going. Don’t think about it too much. I started doing digital arts with Ableton and then Processing. The latter really helped me understand the fundamentals of programming, so I’d say it’s a great way to start. But maybe you’re more into 3D, then Blender could be the software for you. Either way, just start and don’t worry about using them incorrectly, these tools are there to be used in any way that feels good for you.

Generally, I think it makes sense to choose one tool and stick with it and become really good at it, while still looking left and right to see what else is going on. For example, I work with TD but it’s quite exciting to see what’s being done with GLSL and Notch as well.

Also, what really helped me get better was actually sharing tutorials. Because when you’re explaining something to someone, you have to understand it.

9.  Where do you see generative and digital art heading in the future?

My opinion is very biased because I am a digital artist and want to continue being one, but I think digital art is the future. Painting, theatre etc. aren’t going to go away quickly (hopefully never), but the art world is changing and generally everything is going in the direction of interactivity. And digital art makes interactivity very easy. Also, working in the digital realm enables sharing art more easily throughout the world.

I wish for museums and galleries to appreciate digital art more and to take it more seriously. But then again, I personally don’t want to be involved much in the classic art world scene, it’s quite bizarre to me.  I love this sort of underground feeling that generative and audiovisual art still has.

Also, I think there is going to be a lot more artwork done by machine learning, basically just by computers. I just hope people are never going to be redundant- art is one of the most important things that we have.



DigitalFruit is curated by Adafruit lead photographer- Andrew Tingle

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