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Closing Keynote: Tupac Martir

Acclaimed multimedia artist and visual designer Tupac Martir will be giving the Closing Keynote at ISE 2019. Ahead of the show, he spoke to the ISE Daily’s Paul Bray

Tupac Martir originally trained as a painter, and the stellar client list of his London-based studio, Satore, ranges from BMW and Dior to Beyoncé and Elton John.

“We do visual design for live entertainment using different techniques in arts, media and technology,” he explains. “Whether that’s video, lights, sets, or costumes, the important thing is that it’s creative.”

Martir sees no inherent tension between technology and creativity. “I started coding when I was six years old, so the whole tech side of things is very natural to me. Artistic endeavour and technical management go hand in hand here.”

Asked whether the creative process begins with an artistic concept or a technology, he replies that it’s a bit of both. “I don’t always know whether seeing a certain technology has opened something in my subconscious to develop one of the stories I had in my head, or whether I had an idea and eventually found the technology I needed to make it a reality.”

“But I tend to believe – or I want to believe – that it’s more about drawing things up first and then finding how we can get technology to make them work. I always draw everything before it goes into a machine, and I carry a sketchbook to note down ideas. Ideas brew in my subconscious until I need them, then I select the best technology that will allow me to enhance them.

“I’m a big believer in that type of workflow. If you make things on a machine you’re limited by the machine, not by your intelligence or creativity.”

Choosing technology that complements the job, enhancing rather than limiting the creative process, is critical for Martir. So in his Closing Keynote at ISE 2019, as well as showing some of his recent work, he plans to demonstrate the kind of tools that he and his studio would use to create just such a keynote presentation – the equivalent of a painter’s portrait of himself at the easel.

He clearly relishes the sleight-of-hand, and hints that his delivery may be as theatrical as his work. “Anyone who’s seen me talk knows I can’t stand still. When I gave the keynote at USITT in 2016 I did nine thousand steps!”

Asked about some of the technologies that excite him, Martir says, “I love motion capture and I’m very interested in AI and seeing where it will go.”

He’s fascinated by the idea of sensors that can tell what your fingers and hands do, so you could create commands and control objects without ever touching them. Need to bring in a strobe? Just wave your hands in a certain way.

“I’m amazed by the amount of things that are starting to come to market for tracking,” he says. “I think tracking is really the future of this industry, just like automation once was the future. The integration of lighting, cameras, real time rendering – all those elements combined are creating worlds that three years ago would have been impossible.

“What interests me is how I can create a bridge between old and new technologies and, by combining them and finding a place in between them, generate something brand new that inhabits both worlds.”

Tupac Martir gives the Closing Keynote at 12:00 on Friday 8 February in the Forum at the RAI Amsterdam.