Meet 10xer technologist David Aronson. David is a freelance software developer and user interface designer. We sat down with him for a one on one to discuss his past (which involved performing as a video artist with the rock band Figo, as well as collaborating on live shows for bands Drop the Lime, LA Riots and The Crystal Method to name a few), to discussing the present projects he’s working on and his latest interactive sculpture artwork.
10x: What initially drew you to working with technology?
Aronson: My experience with technology began early, using my father’s tools to fix bicycles in our garage. Later when out of college and new to New York I embraced the desktop computer as a way to make a living while performing in off-off Broadway Theater. Eventually I found myself producing animations, websites and interactive kiosks for various corporations and high profile fashion houses. Along the way I developed skills as a graphic artist, user interface designer, software developer, animator and programmer.
What kept me in tech was that the work itself was more often then not, very interesting and exciting. I got in tech when the internet was blossoming, internet not quite 2.0. Flash, the now badly aligned platform, was growing out of basic vector animation into a full on platform for interactivity, and looked as though there was no stopping it. That was of course until performance became an issue and I looked to Quartz Composer and then Open Frameworks and now whatever software is suited for the project.
10x: Describe what or who inspired you?
Aronson: Initially I was first inspired by live mix video to music, some of the video artists that I followed included Vello Virkhaus, Roger Bolton, and George Toledo.
Later within my career, I began creating and exhibiting interactive sculpture artwork of my own. The work of interactive sculpture artist’s like Nam June Paik, Cory Archangel, and James Turrel demonstrated to me that the type of artwork I’m making could be taken seriously in the art world.
10x: Are there any 10x projects you’re working on now or in the past that you’re especially proud of?
Aronson: I just started with 10x Management and I’m working on a proposal. It’s a “clean up another developer’s mess” type project. The initial goal is just to get it working, so it may not be something that looks great or disrupts an industry, at least at first. But if it does that and I complete it quickly, I’ll be proud.
10x: Are there any other interesting side projects that you’ve worked on or are currently working on?
Aronson: I run a group of artist studios with a gallery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Currently I’m working on a series of 10 small, collectible sculptures using the Raspberry Pi.
It’s an interactive sculpture roughly the size of a pie box. Pi Box uses the act of watching to create perceived sentience. Technically, it’s nothing more than a Raspberry Pi, camera, touch screen, servo motor, welded aluminum case, LED lights, and code put together into an interactive, collectible sculpture. The Pi is programmed to detect human faces and rotates its virtual 3D-eye to meet the faces looking at it. The box top contains the touch screen, which responds to someone petting it the same as a domesticated animal would. Surrounding the aluminum box are LED lights, which respond to the acceleration of movement and the color of light sensed by the camera.
It knows that you are watching and you know that it is watching you. Through interaction, it becomes an autonomous being with personality, a sense of play, and an online identity. Each Pi Box will have its own Twitter or Instagram account where it posts photos of the faces it observes at the art gallery. The gallery visitor can check Instagram or Twitter to find their picture. My hope is the audience or gallery visitor wonders if a machine or some type of electronic member of society took the picture.
His other areas of interest include: interactive sculpture, electronics prototyping, graphic design, and metal fabrication. For more information about David, check out his profile here.