CMA Stories

All About Julia Rich and Stefan Skripak’s Interactive Garden!

On Thursday, April 25 from 4-6 PM, Teaching Artist Julia Rich and their collaborator Stefan Skripak will host a free interactive workshop. Learn about their collaboration below!

Tell us more about your interactive garden!

“Garden” is a tactile display full of other-worldly textures, plants and animals meant to be explored and discovered using your hands.  Hidden amongst the beautiful elements are four subtle interactions which when triggered bring life to the piece. Interacting with our project is meant to be a joyful, age-agnostic experience as users feel wonderful textures, discover cute creatures, and light up the garden environment. In a way, our project “Garden” was envisioned and designed to be the antithesis of new media art being created today. While often the focus is on projects built around a very visible technology, we were interested in making an interactive experience where the technology itself was all but invisible and the pleasure comes instead from having an experience based on human’s inherent intuition of nature.

What was it like collaborating? How do the two of you work together?

Through collaboration, we discovered our own common language between the processes of fabrication and programming. It was a constant back and forth to create visuals to match the motors and visa versa.  We translated texture to movement and movement to texture.

Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?

JR: I used to tinker in my dad’s wood shop, either working on props for school plays, furniture and ceramics for the house, or building toy cars.  This early opportunity to experiment with building and making has not only encouraged me to pursue it as a career, but also filled me with the confidence to bring a creative mind to obstacles I might run into along the way.

SS: My interest in art, and moviemaking in particular, started fairly early in my life. There is a wonderful home video documenting my first writing and directing gig which was a western-style horse chase. It stars me as an eight-year-old running in place, pretending to chase after my four year old brother as he rides furiously on a stationary bouncing horse toy. The “climax” of the movie occurs when he suddenly drops his shorts, sticking his butt out at me and literally knocking me on my back in surprise. Possibly even more funny than the concept itself are the literally half a dozen attempts at this narrative that have remain documented on the old VHS tape, and the incredible seriousness with which I directed my brother and cameraman father hinting at my inevitable creative future.

What makes CMA a special place to show this artwork?

Although this piece is intended to be enjoyed regardless of age, we definitely had a young audience in mind during the design process. Children generally express less reservation when approaching interactive technology and this allows them to interact more confidently and intuitively with our piece. We found in our past exhibition that children got the most out of the viewing experience because they were so much more open to the possibility of joyful surprise.

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