After laying waste to New York's Milk Studios three weeks ago, Vice and Intel's Creators Project wrapped up its London leg in the early hours of yesterday morning. No warehouses this time, instead the cultural roadshow took place in the basement of a giant Victorian shopping block. Inside, a labyrinth of installations and screening rooms greeted guests. Digital Media is the Creators Project's bag so there were 8-bit video games, interactive sound sculptures, 3D painting, Felix Thorn's amazing machines and much much more to entertain. The earlier part of the day was free to all which saw curious pedestrians and wide-eyed children mingle with the hipster art crowd.
The first big draw of the day -- much as in New York -- was the screening of Spike Jonze's new short "I'm Here". A sort of Los Angeles Lost in Translation for robots handled with Jonze's usual offbeat aplomb. There was a video booth set up nearby for the audience to give their feedback on the film which Jonze himself will edit into a companion piece to show at the Creators finale in Beijing. "Tender", "sweet" and "affecting" were a few adjectives I heard, "mawkish" was another. Other well-received screenings at the London leg were the surprising "Go Fast Connexion" by Ladj Ly and the hilarious "Super Baozi vs Sushi Man" by China's Sun Haipeng.
Before the evening cranked into full-on party mode there were a couple of panel discussions that packed out the auditorium. The first was fashion designer Cassette Playa's fusing of augmented reality and catwalk show which, while perhaps not the future of fashion, was a bit of fun. That was followed by the Creators Project's real masterstroke, the Pop Song Panel. The simple premise is that a roster of musicians come together to write a song -- with our help -- in an hour. The London panel was slightly more low-key than New York's Mark Ronson, Neon Indian, N.A.S.A et al comprising as it did of producer/DJ Mumdance, MCs Jammer and Camelot, the xx producer Rodaidh McDonald (who also runs the excellent Cocadisco night) and someone who may or may not have been Chelsea footballer Jon Obi Mikel. Still, with a free bar well in effect by this point and some affable compering by Vice's Eddy Moretti, laughs were had. We wrote a song called "Too Much Alcohol In My System". "Visions of Johanna" it was not, but it gave a good insight to the creative process (by the way New York, your song was better).
While many of the installations and screenings will travel with the Creators Project to Sao Paulo, Seoul and Beijing over the next few weeks, it is the music and DJ lineup that has a city-specific feel to it. London based 'Hot Young Bands' Flats and Yuck got the live music underway, the action now having progressed to an actual ballroom. Mark Ronson & Business INTL legged it straight from Lovebox to play to an overflowing room, local hero Kele Okereke overcame technical issues to raise the (ornate) roof and grime poster boy Tinchy Stryder brought things to a close.
Back in the auditorium the seats had been removed and we had a club on our hands. Peaches was announced as the secret guest DJ after some ridiculous rumors did the rounds and we were treated to the slightly incongruous sight of her arriving in a wheelchair and being propped up behind the decks having recently broken her ankle (which, to her credit, didn't even stop her playing a full stage show at Lovebox the next day, in which crowds were treated to the even more incongruous sight of her being wheeled around by a naked transsexual). Mumdance and the Filthy Dukes kept things going before the legendary Trevor Jackson wrapped things up and weary punters spilled back onto the streets.
The curation was expertly handled which meant you could make of the day what you wanted and the progression from interactive art show to full blown, hands-in-the-air party worked perfectly in the subterranean space. And not every day do you get to see Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs standing in a forest in the basement of a London shop while slightly awkward Intel employees look nervously for the bar.
The Creators Project hits Sao Paulo in four weeks time and if London was anything to go by then they'll have not just a memorable party on their hands but a genuine celebration of creativity in the 21st Century. This is year one of the project but the talk amongst Creators and organizers was that this is just the beginning.