CyberPatrolUnit (who's real name is Bryant Place) is a 29-year-old visual artist and art engineer. Place has worked on some of the most innovative and groundbreaking light and visual shows over the past decade, including projects for Kanye West, Hans Zimmer, Skrillex, and The Black Eyed Peas. This will be his sixth consecutive year bringing innovation to Coachella through several art installations, VJ sets, and programming. His main piece at the 2014 music festival is called #LIGHTWEAVER, a 45-foot, 24 kinetic light sculpture. We got a chance to speak with Place during Coachella about his long history with the festival and his plans for the future.
The goal is always to entertain live audiences and to spur the creativity of others.
How did you get involved with visuals for music?
It started at school. I went to Loyola Marymount University with a dream to become a music producer. I interned for Activision working on conceptual real-time sound for DJ Hero, Spiderman 3, and other experimental unreleased concepts.
I was born into underground producing audio-reactive Droid Behavior parties, which is where I was discovered by V Squared Labs, who put me on for The Black Eyed Peas' 2010 The E.N.D Tour. Later that year, I was on tour with Luis Flores and Drumcell when I ran into the head of Derivative, Greg Hermanovic, at a Jeff Mills set at Tresor in Berlin. He asked me to run visuals for the Plastikman live tour, real-time visuals on a cylindrical LED screen with an integrated custom mobile app written by Hexler and M-Nus (Richie Hawtin's label). It was a groundbreaking feat and way ahead of it's time.
Shortly after, I started my own company called Sensory Sync, with which we did production, stage design, and programming for Skrillex's Mothership Tour in the US and Europe in 2011.
Prior to this, from 2009 and on, I worked with JazzMutant and was the US representative and consulting artist for the Lemur controller. It was around the time I designed custom audio work for Hans Zimmer and Kanye West. For Hans I built a custom sequencer to write musical sequences, and for Kayne I built a live sampler/effects machine for his live performances.
Tell me about your history at Coachella.
This will be my sixth year at Coachella. My first year was at the Sahara tent with only two projectors in 2008. In 2009 I was the Heineken dome with V Squared. In 2010 I worked on the Plastikman live show. In 2011 I was the VJ for V Squared Labs and had helped program the system and content for Amon Tobin's groundbreaking projection mapped show.
In 2012 I produced and implemented the "Gateway" installation with my own company, Sensory Sync. The "Gateway" installation in 2012 was the highest budgeted artist installation of its time. It was composed of projection mapped pieces with Alexis Rochas' proprietary space frame design. It had never been done before, and all the mapping and content paid tribute to all past art installations at Coachella. In 2013 I did The Do LaB's visuals.
This year I co-produced the #LIGHTWEAVER installation under Alexis Rochas, a first-time collaboration between his company Stereo-Bot and Obscura Digital. It's all custom lighting software developed under the umbrella of Obscura Digital. Obscura Digital hired me in late 2012 as an interactive art engineer. I'm an emerging lighting designer as we explore new avenues into uncharted territory.
I predict that by next year we'll start to see not only the DJ but the lighting designer and VJ working together as a unit like a band.
Does it offend you when I accidentally call #LIGHWEAVER "The Pretzel"?
Not at all, I love it! Didn't you see my Instagram picture of me holding up a pretzel in front of it?
What's your biggest dream in visuals and programming?
I want to integrate systems and push my personal technical knowledge. The goal is always to entertain live audiences and to spur the creativity of others.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
My best friend Pat Jagla, aka PartyOnMarz. I'm a huge fan of Elon Musk from SpaceX and Tesla. I'm a huge fan of Skrillex, and am fond of Sonny's inspirational energy. I'm inspired by what I see from the online communities like Reddit. Matthias Vollrath is also a huge inspiration to me. He's the lighting designer for Richie Hawtin, and he's like my big brother. I'm also very inspired by space and sci-fi and loved this past "blood moon" eclipse.
What are you excited about in the future?
I'm excited about robotics companies replicating animals. Festo recently created a kangaroo; there's a cheetah by Boston Dynamics, even a jellyfish. I find emulating natural creatures and their natural movements through robotics very exciting. In the near future I'm very excited about pushing towards space more. At this point the concept of a space elevator is hypothetical but people are working on it.
How about in the future of music and visuals?
3D printing is the future. I will be able to build custom lighting fixtures or projectors with 3D printing. The forefront of visuals will be moving beyond projectors and LED screens and seeing the fusion of kinetic robotics, LED technology, and architecture, blending all these systems together for a strong effect.
I predict that by next year we'll start to see not only the DJ but the lighting designer and VJ working together as a unit like a band. No one yet, but mark my words it'll begin to happen on a major pop scale.
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