After briefly discussing Memo Akten’s work in class, I was immediately hooked on his work Forms he created in collaboration with Quayola. I was astonished by the elegant representation of the movement of athletes performing their art. I believe I’m also particularly fond of this work having been a semi-pro athlete myself. There had always been conflict for me, seeing as most artists aren’t usually athletic, and most athletes I’ve met aren’t often artistic. Additionally, rugby in particular is not seen as an artistic sport, the way that gymnastics, figure skating, or equestrian could be. However, I’ve always thought there was something beautiful about athletes that required intense power for their sport. As ad viewer, one often only sees aggression and brute force when watching a rugby game. That force and power comes from hours of delicate and well refined practice, making sure ever muscle is pulled and pushed exactly correctly, making sure every movement is agile and precise. I think that Akten’s work in Forms illustrates this perfectly.
“…it explores techniques of extrapolation to sculpt abstract forms, visualizing unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict..”
After watching Forms many times, I grew more curious of the process, and I was delighted to find that Akten had published a video on his process work. Each athlete clip has the screen divided into five sections, the top left being the original video of the athlete, the top right shows the completed generative pice, and three are the individual measurement components that make up the final piece. From what I can determine, the bottom middle section shows the points of the body and follows the athletes movements closely, the bottom right is similar, but it leaves a trail of where each point has been, leaving long trails of movement. The bottom left shows the forces from the body, as if the athlete were covered in paint or water, and droplets were flung by the movement. To create the final piece Akten takes these three interpretations of movement and visualizes each piece differently in a way that is aesthetically appropriate for the sport.
Akten is clearly passionate about representing the body, kinetic motion, and human skill and art, in unique visual experiences. While this is clear in his interpretation of athletes in Forms, he has also done many works with choreographers and dancers. One of his earlier works with dancers was back in 2009 when he created using Computer Vision and openframeworks, Reincarnation. In this mesmerizing work, a dancer’s movement is reimagined as flame and smoke. Only when the dancer slows down or pauses can you see the human form, other than that, the dancer is completely transformed into fire.