I stumbled across Firmament (a Burning Man art piece) and loved how much of an impact the lights had while soft music was played. I couldn’t get enough of the videos posted on youtube and decided this was what I’d base my art on. The idea for Nebula was to have more interaction so someone could actually adjust the light pattern and change the light display with music. While playing with my LED strips laid out on the ground, they gave this awesome hue to the carpet, so I decided I’d try and re create that vertically by attaching them to a hanging sheet of material which is what the final art piece was.
Karl de Jong on his artwork, ‘Nebula’, Kiwiburn 2018
Photo by Karl de Jong
Please give a brief overview of the story of your project – what was it? What inspired the idea?
How did you hear about Kiwiburn Art Grants?
I made an art piece at KB17, which was my first Kiwiburn, and didn’t know much about the grants at the time. After talking to artists there, I found out about the grants and decided I’d apply for one for KB18.
What was the process of applying for the grant like for you? Were there any challenges you faced?
It was a very straight forward process. The reimbursement system is great, because it gives you a lot more motivation to complete the art. You have to give a reasonable amount of detail while pitching an art piece, but I think a good number of people thinking of applying don’t have an idea completely fleshed out, which they might be nervous about. I was the same, however during the process of creating art, it’s changing as it comes into it’s own. The biggest thing for me is to register an idea straight away. When I see it on the website, I know there are expectations, and it really pushes me to work on the art and make something people will remember.
How was the process of actually making your project? What went well, and what would you do differently next time?
I underestimated the amount of work it was going to be working with addressable LEDs. For the first month or so after I received the LEDs and the controller, I couldn’t get the strip to change or display the right colour which was was very frustrating. Once I realised what the problem was, it was really rewarding slowly changing the code and getting the strips to display patterns and create really striking effects. When I had it to the point where the colour and intensity was reacting to the music, that was probably the most exciting time. I had buddies come over and play DJ sets while the colours were changing. In the end, I decided it was most effective with classical music, so that’s what I had playing at Kiwiburn.
Is there a piece of advice you would give to any Burners applying for an Art Grant?
The biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone creating art, is to use the communication channels they have access to and connect with other artists etc. The main regret is that I didn’t reach out and ask people questions which would’ve saved me A LOT of time. Once I started posting on forums online, and talking to other artists, I realised I could’ve created something 100x more epic. That is definitely what I’ll be doing next time.
More information on Art Grants here.