TRACE: Meet the Artists
Meet the TRACE Dream Team - comprised of the talented Thi Nguyen and the stupendous Steven Bai. We sat down with the duo to pick their brains about TRACE, their artistic lives and creating stealth art venues.
Thi & Steven: TRACE is all about intercepting visitors and inviting them to play or socialise through an interactive installation. We wanted to encourage people to have fun! Picture this: a glowing streak of light traces their movements in real time to facilitate meaningful and memorable experiences through play. This form of interaction encourages social relationships that invite visitors at The Galeries to spontaneously perform and create alternative social and urban meanings.
That's deep. We love how obviously passionate you both are about this unique form of art. What led you to pursue this?
Thi: We're invested in the relationship between technology and culture. In particular the design of new digital media. The cultural significance of technology is its power to create new forms of embodied and embedded interaction with the world and each other. In doing so it brings into existence new ways of doing, thinking and being. For us this means that digital is not just a way to conduct practice by other means, but an opportunity for radical evolution of that practice. We are interested in the process by which this happens.
But with new practices and processes comes new challenges. For instance, do you find that people are usually shy when it comes to interactive art in a public space?
Thi: I believe that interactive art encourages us to leave our isolated self and interact with the greater social group perhaps merely for the joy of playing and contributing to the work. I think play is inherently attractive, provides freedom from time and diminishes the consciousness of self. Interactive art can encourage people to discover novel lines of thought or action. Joy, for instance, creates the urge to play, interest creates the urge to explore, and so on.
That's so true. I mean, we were a little hesitant at first, but it's so much fun! It's quite an emerging area of art, how do you actually explain or describe it? And how did you get involved?
Thi: Experimentation arouses my curiosity to work in multi-disciplines hence why my practice is constantly evolving. It is the strength inherent in cross-disciplinary thinking that characterises the dynamic and transversal nature of so many of my creative explorations. I like to approach my work as giving shape to emotional energy, rather than just making things. Sometimes I find it difficult to describe my art because no amount of intellectual knowledge or discussion can surpass experience.
I'm incredibly passionate about my practice and creative beliefs, much so that I've quit full-time work after 6 months to embark on my own journey as an artist/designer. It was my constant urge to create meaningful work that led to this career. There was never a particular moment where I knew that I would be an artist, I think it's always been inside of me and it slowly revealed itself over the years.
That's a tough, but exciting decision to make! Can you tell us what the highlight of your career as an artist has been so far?
Thi: The highlight of my career so far would be exhibiting at The Galeries, not only because of the opportunity to create art at such an iconic location, but because it provided me with a challenge – mentally, physically and spiritually to create both TRACE and Revelation simultaneously. The Galeries is such a beautiful location. I definitely feel that I have evolved as an artist as a result and it was an incredibly rewarding experience.
Thi & Steven: The highlight of our career as artists has always been focusing on not a particular project but the responses of people experiencing it.
That's such a great way of looking at it! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. One last question though! Can you tell us what's next for the dream team?
Thi & Steven: We aim to continue collaborating on transforming everyday spaces into stealth art venues.
Check out TRACE at The Galeries now and become a part of the art!
About Thi Nguyen and Steven Bai:
Thi Nguyen is an artist based in Sydney with an interest in sculpture and new media art. After completing a BA of Design (Visual Communication, Honours) at the University of Western Sydney she has gone on to create works for a diverse range of clients including exhibiting at Vivid Sydney Festival in 2013 and 2014. With an interest in technology and social culture her work illustrates how play and interactive art respond to human stimuli in order to bring into existence new ways of doing, thinking and being.
Check out more from Thi at www.thi-nguyen.com
Steven Bai is a creative technologist who is passionate about transforming existing urban infrastructures into digital playful spaces. Steven completed his Bachelor of Design Computing degree with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney. He has worked in the creative industry on cross-platform projects and media installations since 2010. He also initially developed a project, which was then featured in Vivid Sydney Festival 2014.
Check out more from Steven at www.stevenbai.com
Thi and Steven share the vision of how technologies can be applied to motivate positive change for enhancing urban liveability and experience.