CAMPing out for creatives

CAMP Festival brings arts and industry game-changers to Calgary

Eva Janke-Furman, second-year ACAD design student, works on a sketchbook assignment in the Aldred Centre at SAIT on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. (Photo by Nikolai Cuthill/SAIT)

Eva Janke-Furman, second-year ACAD design student, works on a sketchbook assignment in the Aldred Centre at SAIT on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. (Photo by Nikolai Cuthill/SAIT)

Calgary is no stranger to innovators and game-changers, but for creative types, the opportunity to network with both local and international industry experts, and refine their craft, isn’t always available here.

Enter the CAMP Festival, a two-day media arts and technology extravaganza held on Sept. 27 and 28, which is designed to bridge that gap.

Now in its third year, the festival is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Bram and Marta Timmer.

“When [Bram] moved here, he noticed that something was missing. Calgary had a very fragmented, and some would argue that is still the case, creative industry that would rarely get together,” said Marta Timmer, the festival’s producer.

“Being creative, and artists ourselves, we wanted to bring everyone together around some cool content.”

Each year, the festival invites a handpicked roster of “storytellers” from various backgrounds, including film, fashion, photography, gaming and science, among many others, to lead specialized workshops over the two days.

“We curate our storyteller roster carefully starting in January of every year,” said Marta Timmer. “We make lists of speakers we’d like to invite, and try to strike a careful balance of inspiration versus instruction, with topics from a comprehensive range of fields, from illustration to virtual reality.”

This year’s group of storytellers is no exception. The Dress/Code workshop features the founders of Nervous System, a future-forward fashion design firm, who use body scans and algorithms found in nature to design their wearable wares.

Michael Muller, hailed as “the most successful photographer you’ve never heard of,” who has photographed celebrities such as Robert Downey Jr. and Alec Baldwin, as well as several advertising campaigns for companies such as Nike and Oakley, will be presenting Out of the Box, a workshop on breaking the rules and fighting the fears that hold us back professionally and creatively.

Not to be outdone by CAMP’s international guests, Calgary is home to some of the CAMP Festival’s world-class storytellers too.

Matt Wright, chief experience officer and founder of one of Calgary’s premiere virtual reality firms, Mammoth VR, is a member of The Future of 360 Storytelling panel at the festival, which explores the evolution of virtual-reality programming from the gaming world, to film, advertising and beyond.

Panel attendees will even have the opportunity to test out Samsung’s new Gear 360 virtual reality camera before it hits the market.

Clarissa Peterson, an instructor at SAIT’s fast-track web developer program, will be leading a workshop titled, Use Your Designer Superpowers for Good, which teaches user-experience (UX) designers to think about bigger picture problems that may not affect their own lives, but hinder the lives of many others just the same.

“There are so many apps out there for things that we want. There are 800 apps for ordering food, that sort of thing,” said Peterson. “But we don’t think about the needs of people that are unlike us, and the things we could create as far as apps and websites to met those needs.

“For example, there’s an app designed for blind people that they can use the camera to take a picture of paper money, and find out what denomination it is,” said Peterson. “But as a person who’s not blind, how does it ever occur to me that that’s something that’s needed?”

One of the most fascinating aspects of the CAMP Festival is the merging of the creative, arts-inspired world with advancements in business, technology and science.

Marta Timmer sees this as the evolution of modern arts and culture.

“We see more of it around every day, even here in Calgary. You can create some amazing art with technology that specifically relates to issues of our time, social justice, politics, privacy issues, etc. Art is a mirror we hold up to reality, and if our reality includes a lot of code, then that is the language we need to speak in order to formulate our message.”

Peterson is a bit more pragmatic.

“Design is a totally different thing from art. They’re both visual means of expression, but art is where you’re just making something for yourself. Design is where you’re making something for other people.

“If you’re just painting a painting, it can look like anything at all,” said Peterson. But if you’re making a website, you have to consider, ‘is this going to be usable by everybody?’”

Regardless of your view, however, or your background or experience, the CAMP Festival is an opportunity for new and current students in any number of fields to gain knowledge, and an opportunity for professionals to continue their own education.

“If you are a student, this is incredibly beneficial to you, especially if you are wondering what is possible with the skills you are just learning, where you could go with your talent, your career path, etc,” said Marta Timmer. “You get to experience all this awesome stuff for less than the cost of a pair of jeans.

“If you are a professional in the industry, it’s the same story. It is good to see what other professionals are up to, catch up on new technologies, trends, and even say hi to familiar faces or meet your personal heroes.”

Peterson agrees, saying that students of all ages need to recognize that just because one is done with school, that doesn’t mean they should be done with learning.

Marta Timmer sees the festival as a jumping-off point for attendees to pursue their own passion projects.

“The stories are truly inspiring, and the level of motivation you experience post–event is incredible. You see all of these amazingly talented speakers doing awesome things and you just want to hit the ground running yourself when it’s all over.”

Student passes to CAMP Festival are available for the discounted price of $99. For more information, or to register, please visit: http://www.campfestival.ca/#Register

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