The first time we met the artist Ricardo Rivera, he was commissioned by our good friends of Fixed to produce a light installation at Le Bain - just for one night. We were so impressed by his work that we asked him to think about something which would last and become part of the club. And here it is! This month, Ricardo’s art moves to the beat on the 18th floor. Based in Philadelphia, Ricardo is one of the founder of KLIP, a collective specialized in 3D projection. We met him in the daylight for a Standard Q&A.
The Standard: We are super excited to welcome your art installation at Le Bain. How would you describe it in a few words: is it a 3D projection, a light show, an interactive installation, a video sculpture?
Ricardo Rivera: All of the above. It’s a video jockey interactive rig that projects onto haze and smoke, making it a three dimensional experience. By creating video content that consists of geometric forms and color, we are able to sculpt and form light patterns in space, cut to the beat.
Famous New York producer Nile Rodgers wrote: ‘A great nightclub is a communal space where the people, the art on the walls, the conversation, the music, the theater of it all, hit the same vibration.’ How does that inspire you?
I definitely believe in the idea of art as a gestalt. A great space has all of these things and it’s something that I work really hard at achieving. The piece at Le Bain, at its core, is set to music, visually immersing you in it.
It seems that in general nightclubs underestimate the importance of visual art.
Absolutely, but that has been changing over the past decade. With technology becoming such a part of our lives, it’s becoming expected. I started VJing in the 90’s rave scene and a lot of the parties that I was involved in focused on the visuals. Back then, I would have to set up everything from scratch, first to get there, last to leave. I was lucky if someone was there to let me in! It’s great to see clubs like Le Bain appreciate the form and encourage it.
Projection Face Test by KLIP Collective.
Do you go out a lot yourself?
Presently, not too much. I’ve been in it too long! I used to do this party in the late 90’s in Baltimore called Cloudwatch. It was an ambient/chillout party that we would throw in warehouses, theaters, museums and would be a ‘room’ at the Ultraworld raves. Cloudwatch was all about the total art experience. It really affected my interpretation of the electronic music experience, that it’s just as much visual as aural.
On a larger scale, electronic music shows have known a boom of visual stage design, from Kraftwerk to Daft Punk, to Etienne de Crecy, which in a way brings us to a complete art experience. Do you have any specific music and visual live experience that inspired you?
Cornelius’ Drop tour was one of the first live shows I experienced where they really nailed the visuals as being an integral part of the show. Visuals on that level always felt like an after thought. Now with stage integration and 3D projection mapping, we are seeing so many great things.
How does 3D mapping work?
It’s basically the act of projecting a virtual object or thing back onto itself and manipulating the virtual onto its real counterpart. It is a really cool illusion. Been playing with its many forms for over ten years.
We were totally impressed by your work for Nike, which happened to be on the Hudson River, right by The Standard. The video of the event looks amazing. Could you describe how you made it happen?
Whew. That gig was insane! There were two major projection elements for that stunt. The 3D projection mapping onto the building across the pier and the water mist projections that created the ‘hologram’ of Carmelo Anthony shooting, running, and dunking across the Hudson River.
Jumpman: Melo Explosive Flight BTS by KLIP Collective
That was a good example of how new computerized video projection push the boundaries of what an ‘art performance’ could be. Do you think we’ll see more and more of those very spectacular performances?
Ha, no glasses! I think it will evolve and be artful. But that depends on the art world, if they’ll let our crazy visual lot in! As for 3D movies. It’s a sham. But hey, everything I do is smoke and mirrors anyway.
It is also a perfect illustration of the new collaborations between new technologies, art and brands. Do you put yourself boundaries between art and commerce?
It’s definitely a fine line, a dance if you will. I’ve tried walking down the ‘get a grant, make some art’ road. Didn’t work too well for me. My art is way too expensive for that! So that’s why we started KLIP. This way, I can collaborate with other creative people and get the budgets that we need to make these crazy immersive experiences work. Having an outlet is the key for me. Things like the install at Le Bain, doing the lights and visuals for Making Time in Philly, music videos, short films. These are all activities that I need to make time for as they keep me honest and true to my art and passion.
What are your next steps in the near future with such an open creative field to explore?
I want to get back to the basics. I want to make a documentary. I want to make a feature - a cyberpunk thriller! - I want to make more sculptural installations. So much to do! It’s just a matter of finding the time!
Could you tell us what recurrent themes have been inspiring you as an artist?
Well… Music! It’s always been a part of what I do at some level. As such an intense visual person, it’s great to close my eyes and be inspired.