Artist Feature | Rhizome NYC

Rhizome is a NYC based, community focused, production company that provides scenic design and visual content in harmony for media and events. In the past few years Rhizome has taken the New York art’s and culture scene by storm through their multiple large scale build projects and specializing in stage design using new digital media such as projection mapping. Some of their recent projects have included stage design for both Elements and Gratitude Festivals.

 Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

1. What inspires you the most about the mission of The Sonic Jungle?

To be honest, the thing I am most excited about within this project is the layout. It's very ambitious. Most venues have a goal, but it's rare that goal reaches beyond 'party' or 'relax'. The Sonic Jungle is like a giant adult playground, but with a very nuanced goal, which I would couch as 'revitalization and discovery'. You don't just stand there and stare at a DJ, you get to wander through various energy flows, some exciting, some soothing, some mysterious, some nostalgic and familiar. 

2. What are some newer technologies you use in your productions that we can look forward to seeing at The Sonic Jungle?

It's funny, the way new technology filters into an experience. There is certainly a lot of exciting new software I could talk about, new rendering techniques, new means of 3D mapping and image generation I would love to geek out about, but as far as the experience goes, the wow factor should be -in my opinion- undefinable. My old theatre coach used to say 'The best lighting shouldn't be noticed by the audience'. It was sort of silly to hear at first, but thinking about it, you don't want to acknowledge the spotlight, you want to feel that spot illuminated.

If a complicated sequence of chases are used, with brash color changes and strobes, all to match a characters psychological state, you as the observer don't want to pull yourself out of the story to stop and think "wow, what great response time on those Chauvet intimidators!" You want to be inside that characters head, taken there by the lights. Within that vein, things like Computer Numerically Controlled fabrication, 3D rendered space manipulation and video mapping, realtime content control for effected moments of trompe-l'œil, they'll all be there, but honestly, I hope you don't notice it -and instead- feel illuminated by it.

 Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

My old theater coach used to say ‘The best lighting shouldn’t be noticed by the audience’. It was sort of silly to hear at first, but thinking about it, you don’t want to acknowledge the spotlight, you want to feel that spot illuminated.
— Thaddeus, Rhizome NYC

3. What kind of sustainability initiatives does your team support or try to abide by across all of your various productions?

RhizomeNYC's mission has always been to look forward, and there isn't much of a future left if we don't take care of our planet.

Practically, this means a commitment to sourcing green material whenever possible, and making an effort to innovate when not.

It means the intelligent reuse and recycling of material, always staying on top of new green technology, and a general commitment to work with companies and projects that also have these goals in mind.

 Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

4. We believe that imagination is powerful. If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. We strive to imagine a better tomorrow. Describe your vision for the future. (Short term being 5-10 years, long term 40-50 years) 

The future is always in a fog, and personally I don't mind that. I think there's something beautiful in the unknown, something exciting. Still, moving forward, I think the name of the game is the organic integration of technology into a natural lifestyle. So much has happened in the last 20 years technologically, and is continuing to grow -delving past the lines traditionally drawn between user and interface, between technology and creator.

One thing I think we'll start to see as a people, something RhizomeNYC is very committed to, is that integration. Some great examples we already see, and get to play with, are VR interfaces. It's one thing to be able to play a video game in 3 Dimensional space, but another entirely to design a 3D model within that experienced space. Being able to create in a format that much closer to our physical reality, that much more intuitive, and creating like that without the physical constraints of material and assembly; it allows for far more advanced designs, faster manifestation, and a more efficient check of the objects' feasibility.

Another great use for this burgeoning technology is through artist to audience interface. For Disk Jockeys and Video Jockeys as an example, lets throw away the CDJs and control boards -or at least set them aside- and use controllers linked into our gestures, changing the composition of our surroundings with a wave of our hand, inviting the audience to participate through their measured reactions, and even through providing them with individualized controllers for ultimate participation.

Pulse wave speakers are another great example of a more dynamic interface I think we'll start to see more of. Shooting sound like a laser, pulse wave technology can provide a sound experience that's point specific. Changing the track and it's meaning as one moves through a space, so someone across the room is hearing an entirely different arrangement. Looking further, beyond the scope of event production, I see technology like this as a way to access information more efficiently, and more subtly. I think it's necessary but sad, the amount of time humans spend staring at screens.

All to access what is essentially a great communal pool of knowledge and belief. Let's break through that screen, past the typeface, and into another form of interpretation, so talking with your friend who's overseas while walking through your garden can be simultaneously, and seamlessly enjoyed.

 Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

Image courtesy of Rhizome NYC

5. If your team could be any animal, what kind of animal would you be?

Well, we'd be a plant, or more specifically, a rhizome. Rhizome is defined as an adventitious root structure that links seemingly autonomous plants and or fungi. To put it more broadly, it is the illusion of several different entities within one connected life form. Going one step further, if I could put us in the jungle, I'd like to think we'd be the forest floor, for animals to graze, with notches in our back for streams to flow through, and for roots to take hold.