Artists and amateurs can climb the walls at Visualize Somerville 2 - Metro US

Artists and amateurs can climb the walls at Visualize Somerville 2

Imagine a mural with over 30 contributing artists at any given time — but artists who paint with their smartphones.
Visualize Somerville 2 plans to make this futuristic art a reality, as guests will be able to draw with their phones and have projections cast on nearly every surrounding surface. The event aims to bring the greater Somerville community together as it highlights the relationship between technology and creativity by having guests contribute to a large, interactive art project. Guests will hook up their phones to the provided WiFi network and immediately be able to add to the projection-based art as they climb the walls at Brooklyn Boulders. The nearby Aeronaut Brewing Company will host a conjoining event where guests can enjoy local art, music and of course, booze.
Event creator Jonathan MacLeod hopes that Visualize Somerville 2 will inspire guests to “reinvent” the often-isolating ways that they conceive of their mobile devices.
“We have unlimited, unlocked potential for technology, and really it’s just application at this point,” MacLeod says. “That’s one of the things we’re trying to inspire in people, is that if you all put your heads together we can make beauty out of these things, we can make incredible things.”
Visualize Somerville 2 is MacLeod’s master’s capstone project at the Harvard Extension school, where he will receive a Master of Liberal Arts in Digital Media Design this spring. MacLeod hopes that the event will inspire people and change the way they relate to the technology around them.
“I think the next place things will go is interactivity,” he says. “Everyone wants to be included – as we have [seen] with all the apps like Yelp, and even Uber and stuff like that – so it’s really a place [where] I want to make everybody the artist, make everybody the driving force.”
Last year’s event, Visualize Somerville, saw about 600-700 guests. This year Optexture – the audiovisual group that is hosting the event, of which MacLeod is the founder – has increased projection surfaces by 50 percent, meaning that about 80 percent of surfaces in Brooklyn Boulders Somerville will be covered in projected art.
In addition to the user-generated interactive projections, there will be projections of local artists’ work. There will also be oil-based projections, in which people swirl oil paints in a dish and play with colors and blending in the resulting projection. Non-projection art will be highlighted at Aeronaut Brewing Company, where guests can enjoy live music and local art – and even a 3D-printed person named “Plastic Man.”
Production for Visualize Somerville 2 has been underway for almost five months, and the event is funded entirely by a Kickstarter and ticket sales. MacLeod explains that Somerville is the perfect community for this cutting-edge interactive technology.
“Somerville is hot bed of innovation,” he says. “It’s the perfect place to do this because there are just so many people that are on the bleeding edge of the new things that are coming out.”
MacLeod says that it is important that the interactive technology is easy to use. He and Optexture have made sure that hooking up smart phones to the provided WiFi and calibrating to join in is a smooth and intuitive process.
“I want anybody of any age, and I want this to be universally designed,” he says. “It has to be as easy as possible.”
Visualize Somerville 2 will be held at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville and Aeronaut Brewing Company on May 7. Tickets for Brooklyn Boulders range from $18-$25. Admission to Aeronaut Brewing Company is free.

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