Hipsters, journalists and VIPs from all walks of creativity crowded the meatpacking district’s multi-tiered Milk gallery Saturday afternoon for the Creator’s Project — an arts event-cum-music festival sponsored by Intel and Vice magazine. Once out of the swelter, attendees crammed into the building’s freight elevators to gawk at the multimedia orgy, where TV screens filled with appropriately hashtagged Tweets were as ubiquitous as the Heineken-packed bars on every floor.
Though the event’s futuristic installations — celebrating those who push “creative boundaries through technology,” according to a press release — provided an amusing distraction, most patrons were there for the event’s bands, who seemed to be have been selected more for their popularity than their technophilia. The roster included M.I.A., the Rapture, Die Antwoord, Interpol and the aggressively lo-fi Sleigh Bells.
“My experience with technology is really about my lack of resources, not having any technology. Those early demos are really kind of blown out because the equipment I was using wasn’t very good,” Derek Miller, one half of Sleigh Bells, told the Transom. “Pushing the limits was the only way I could get really cheap drum machines to sound even mildly exciting.”
“But I think that’s good. We’re not the first band to take advantage of our limitations,” he added. “Boundaries seem to help create.”
Asked why his band attended, Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino smiled and referenced a popular feature from the magazine: “We just didn’t want to be a Vice ‘Don’t.'”
None of this is to say that the installations weren’t popular. The musical performances tended to fall on the short-and-sweet side, giving visitors plenty of time to peruse the electronic playground.
One popular project, “The Digital Flesh,” featured a dim room containing a teepee-sized glass cone attended by two male models. These acolytes guided curious patrons inside the cone to have their heads scanned and projected as a computer rendering on a disc above the structure.
Radical Friend, the music video–directing duo behind the project, said it will follow the Creator’s Project to its next five venues, finishing with the Project in Beijing, where they’ll project a holographic amalgamation of every participant’s face.
“Imagine if everybody in this room got squished into this one giant ball. It’s like cells growing,” said Julia Grigorian of RF. “I think it’s going to be a little horrific, but so is life.”
Other standouts included newly created games for the original Nintendo console, and a short film from Spike Jonze about tragic lovers that happen to be androids. “I’ll walk around here and literally not know what I’m looking at,” said Vice co-founder Shane Smith enthusiastically. “I’m like, ‘I want to start taking acid again.'”
Complexity was a detriment to at least one installation, though. We overheard a PR girl, either from Vice or Intel, complaining about a light projection near the entrance that users had failed to manipulate.
“People are supposed to be moving that block off to the side, but they don’t know,” she said, frustrated. “I saw someone sitting on it earlier!”
After the sun set, Interpol took to the stage. Earlier, lead singer Paul Banks told the Transom that New York audiences are harder to impress (“There’s more head nodding and less clapping in the air”) but it didn’t seem to be a problem as hands clapped and fists pumped for their greatest hits, accompanied by a pulsating light show. The performance took place in the building’s loading dock, separated from the street by a barrier, and as the band played, a graffiti artist named Words tagged a building across the way using a high-tech laser pointer. A nearby projector traced his writ-large strokes, transforming them into dripping, green simulated spray paint over the High Line for some 30 seconds. Then the building was clean, ready for a new display of virtual vandalism.