Not only is he the co-founder and artistic director of Dimension Plus, Keith is also the founder of OpenGround, which is a creative space and the sponsored location for Ground Talk, an event inviting different design professionals from the industry to share their experiences.
In this feature, he talks to us about what inspired him to create his installations and the practical and creative skills behind each of them.
Q: What was the inspiration behind OpenGround?
A: There’s almost no single space that focuses on design or serves as a kind of physical hub for designers to gather, hang out, conduct seminars, meetings, or exhibitions. You only see this at master-level design shows. With LAB by Dimension Plus, my purpose of running this space is to connect people in the industry with each other, and more importantly, the industry to the general public. OpenGround is open to the public and people of the industry as a place for all kinds of possibilities and openness, from having a cup of coffee to chatting about life, curating exhibitions, or promoting local designs to the general public.
Q: Most of your installation projects involve audience and environmental interaction to bring the installation to life. How do you work out what kind of interactivity you want each installation to have?
A: Take for example, the creation of Moving Mario. I hadn’t done any installation art before creating Moving Mario. I had the concept in mind for more than three years and I do have a background in electronic and mechanical engineering but I had no experience in making something kinetic. The reason behind having a second post-grade master degree in electronic engineering was because I wanted make something with mechanical movement. There are so many things I wanted to explore but time was just simply limited. Only through learning and collaborating with other professionals from different disciplines and backgrounds did something interesting work out and we were able to break away from the limitations.
Q: What is the story behind your project, ‘Mutual Symphony’?
A: It’s one of the artworks showcased during the Dimension Plus solo exhibition, “Dynamic Livings”. The core concept of the exhibition was to make something “come alive” with technology as the impression of new media arts to the general public was simply non-existent.
We wanted to make something related to nature and life with new media arts in order to break the stereotype. ‘Mutual Symphony’ was made to be like a ‘living’ kinetic sculpture by borrowing the concept of the touch-me-not plant. In terms of media usage in art making, paper and electronics are two extreme mediums. There are so many possibilities and it was just so interesting to mix these two together as a single piece. So, firstly, we came up with the concept and then we found a way to construct it by getting pass some application of medium usage.
Q: On average how long does it take for you to complete one installation?
A: Hmm… that’s a tricky question. For example, I spent one week to finish the ‘One Day Social Sculpture” in terms of the production, but I spent more than three months trying to solidify the concept from a messy pool of research and brainstorming. I would say it really depends. It’s safer to say “Hey, give me at least two months to create the work from scratch.”
Q: If you weren’t in the business of designing installations, what do you think you would have liked to try doing instead?
A: Actually, I don’t really put “business” in the creative process of designing an installation. All works are a piece of art for me even if it’s commissioned work. I still see it purely as a work of mine. Just because a commissioned piece has a very specific purpose to it, that doesn’t mean I have to compromise the creativity. On the contrary, a super solid concept with nicely executed art piece will always communicate itself in the best way. My philosophy in making art is to deliver a story. Making it complicated or adding too many layers doesn’t make a piece more sophisticated.
Q: What forms of technology would you like to play around with for future installations?
A: I don’t have a very specific thing in mind but body-embodiment technology must be super fun!
Good things are meant to be shared. 😉 To see more of Keith Lam’s work, check out the links below!
Behance: Keith Lam
Vimeo: Keith Lam 林欣傑
Facebook: Open Ground | Dimension Plus