Mouvo Festival 2019 review
In February, the 4th year of the Mouvo festival, organised by the Prague multi-discipline studio Oficina, took place in the Prague Archa theatre.
The event primarily focuses on graphic design, motion design and animation, but also overlaps into other spheres of human creativity.
For me, the star of the festival was Turkish guru Memo Akten, who started off the first day’s presentations. Memo comes from Istanbul and describes himself as an “artist, researcher and philomath, working with computation as medium, inspired by the intersections of science and spirituality; and collisions between nature, science, technology, ethics, ritual, tradition and religion”. The linking elements between projects bordering art and science, presented by Memo in Prague, are artificial intelligence and machine learning.
During his presentation, Memo mentioned 19th century mechanical computers, not least because of a remarkable woman, Ada Lovelace, a mathematician and the first female programmer, who from her 17 years of age co-operated with Charles Babbage, the inventor of programmable counting machines. Lovelace had in her musings predicted that machines would be capable of creating – music, for example – if we provide them with enough inputs.
It is this parameter-based generation that Memo Akten focuses on in his projects. Be it generating random pictures which look exactly like deep space photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, or a robot’s answers to fundamental questions pertaining to mankind’s society. Memo’s robot first becomes acquainted with relationships between certain words, for example man-king, woman-queen; then learns to find similar relationships in large numbers of data. The results can be surprising. Try it yourself, with this simple quiz: man-doctor, woman-______. If you’re interested in knowing what Memo’s robot answered, have a look at Twitter accounts @wordofmath or @wordofmathbias; links to other projects or to recordings of selected talks can be found at Memo’s website www.memo.tv.
Another thing I found interesting at the Mouvo conference was the presentation by Italian designer Frederica Fragapane. Frederica creates breathtakingly aesthetic compositions of graphs and schemes portraying large amounts of data. However, as one spectator succinctly commented in a discussion, aesthetics don’t always go hand-in-hand with legibility. Frederica’s infographics are therefore not easily understandable without careful study of the legend. Frederica also presented her project titled The Story Behind a Line, a visually attractive tale of six migrants to Europe. You’ll learn why they left their homes, how long they travelled, how they managed to negotiate thousand-kilometre distances, and what joys and hardships they encountered along the way. You’ll find all of the above at www.storiesbehindaline.com.
Other speakers this year were presenters of the Kurzgesagt studio, Illo, Ian Andersen of The Designers Republic, Ash Thorp, or Nidia Dias. A big thanks goes to all of them, but also to the organisers, who managed to bring to Prague so many interesting personalities and thus present many inpsiration-packed workshops and presentations to the audience.