In Your Words: Between two AR Artists, Isabelle Udo and Harun Köktürk
Intro by Zooppa's Ada Chen
We're so excited to be introducing our newest editorial series across TLNT: In Your Words, a series of features on Talenthouse, Ello, and Zooppa allowing for Creators to speak directly to topics of their choosing with control on how they want to speak about it. We want to give you a platform to share your work, tell us about your experiences as an artist, and to make your voice heard on topics that matter to you.
Our first iteration of In Your Words is an interesting two-part interview between two Ello creators. Read on to learn more about them and check out the first half of the interviews between AR artists Isabelle Udo and Harun Köktürk!
Isabelle Udo is a Dutch Interactive Designer based in Amsterdam. She specializes in Augmented Reality where she makes Beauty and Fashion focused AR headpieces that grow and flow organically with the movement of the users head. Her work is cross-disciplinary where she uses many different softwares and hardwares to create her artwork digitally, but also incorporates analogue in the form of interactive installations and light sculptures.
Harun Köktürk is a Turkish multidisciplinary designer based in Berlin who graduated from DEU, Faculty of Fine Arts in 2015 inTurkey. Currently, he focuses on creating Augmented Reality experiences while experimenting in various fields of art and design to discover new universes of the digital realm.
Harun: Hey Isabelle, it’s so nice and exciting to meet with you here! Tell me a bit about yourself and how Isabelle Udo intertwined with AR World for the first time?
Isabelle: Hi Harun! Thanks for the great conversation! I’m a Dutch interactive Designer currently living in Amsterdam. My journey into creative technology began when I studied Interactive Media Design in the Netherlands. I graduated in 2014 and continued my studies in Audio Visual arts in Brussels, Belgium.
I’ve always been very curious about new emerging technologies, experimenting with softwares and hardwares and implementing it in my audiovisual work. Though when the Facebook Spark AR Platform opened in August 2019 a whole new world opened up for me. Since I had quite some experience with several digital procedures the software felt really intuitive for me. It was love at first sight and it completely changed my life.
When AR became your passion, was it your intention to be the Mother of Plant filters?
At first I was experimenting a lot with different concepts and ideas on how to approach making a filter. The first filters I made were definitely a different style. Through practice I started to get very familiar with the 3D softwares and I wanted to try more complex filters. Plants lend themselves perfectly for creating complexity in 3D due to their beautifully organized chaotic structure.
I really try to challenge and push myself to make something that is as close to reality as possible. I feel like I had some successes with the plant filters I created early on and it became part of my visual code. I love to stay within this style but I also like to vent out conceptually. You can see this with for example the “money tree” filter and the “Medusa” filter. The style and complexity are the same but the concept is a bit more towards popular culture.
What influences you for creating interactive and AR experiences besides nature?
Often I find inspiration while I’m not actively looking for it. The conversations I have with my friends, places I go and things I experience. I also look quite a lot at pop culture and the art world. What interests me is to think about what could be appealing for a broad range of people.
I also walk a lot around Amsterdam. This is a habit I picked up around a year ago and it really helps me clear my mind. It also makes way for new ideas that I will save in my phone to get back to at a later point. This means my phone is full of strange voice messages and short quotes I sent to myself.
In those moments, while thinking about an idea, do you find yourself thinking about how you would create it as a filter?
I’m firstly thinking about the concept of a filter. When the concept is clear in my mind I will think about the technical procedures needed to actually produce the filter. This can get very abstract in my mind where I think about the logical pathways of visual coding needed to obtain the desired effect. Even my explanation right here feels abstract to be honest.
Would you let us know Isabelle’s favorite creation amongst her filters?
“The Dandelion” filter is definitely among my favourites. I really love repetitiveness in the look of a filter. I hope this is also reflected in the work I create. I feel like this repetitiveness is also very present in my production process. For the Dandelion filter I attached the 3D scale, position and rotation of 400 different 3D object value inputs by hand in the patch editor. So 1200 single values are sent at any given time. Talking about repetitiveness.
Could you give us a clue about your creative process while creating these amazing filters?
My creative process can be really explosive. Sometimes a concept can dwell in my mind for many months before I start working on it. Though when I start it will be a very intense and rather quick process.
I start by using 3D softwares like Blender and Cinema 4D to create the 3D models I want to use in the filter. I really love to use procedural animations in my work based on the movement of the user. For this I need to add a skeleton to the 3D models. Once this is completed I start working in the Spark AR software by Facebook. I use the Patch editor quite a lot. This is a visual coding tool embedded in the software.
The result is a hyper reactive Augmented reality experience that will serve for the user to create their own narrative. I really enjoy seeing others use my filter in their own creative ways. It gives me a lot of energy and this drives me to continue my journey into AR.
Recently, I started working with other softwares like Touch Designer, ARKit, and Unity. A whole new world is opening up for me and it’s endlessly fascinating. It’s amazing to see how far you can go with combining different softwares together to create something that hasn’t been seen before!
That’s fascinating! That must be hard to manage your time when you learn a new tool. The tools you mentioned like Touch Designer and AR kit consume so much time to learn as far as I know. How does it work for you?
It is indeed quite time consuming. I really enjoy working with these tools and thus it generally doesn’t feel like a burden to learn it. Though occasionally I do feel like I want to smash my computer through the window. You can only learn through intensive practice. In a world where every week there is a new update in any way shape or form, it does feel like you are in an everlasting race with innovation. But perhaps this is just a feeling and perhaps we ought to prize ourselves amongst the lucky few with the knowledge and ability to make use of these new tools.
How does it feel like to turn your passion into a business?
It honestly feels completely unreal. I’m just doing what I love and I realize I’m in a very luxurious position. Though setting up a business is hard work as I really don’t have a 9 - 5 mentality at all since my professional life and my hobby are totally blended together. I’m super excited as to what the future will hold for creators like us.
Do you combine your AR skills with other fields of Art?
Technology is in a constant state of innovation and we as creators are growing alongside it. Interactivity is very important in my work and I’m eager to explore new emerging possibilities along the way. Right now it is possible to work multidisciplinary on projects that are more than just exclusively digital or physical. My dream is to merge the physical with the digital world. To me this means creating interactive installations, working with cross platform tools and using Social Media as an outlet to spread my vision.
The future is very exciting. We as creators have the opportunity to shape this new era.
Speaking of merging two worlds, aside from AR filters, do you see yourself using an AR Glass in your daily life? They are slowly knocking at our doors. I think they will be a huge step in terms of integrating AR into our daily lives.
Yes, I’ll absolutely be an early adopter of the Apple Glass. Currently I’m actually working on some AR implementations with ARKit. This is the platform that the Apple Glass will use and I’m definitely trying to brace myself for a whole other world opening up!
Thank you so much for your gorgeous answers Isabelle! I believe this interview will help a lot for the ones who started discovering the AR world recently or the ones hesitating to open the AR door. I wish you all the luck in the world to help you with your business journey! I’m so excited to see what you will create in the future!
Interested in joining the AR/VR community? Let us know.
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