A generalist with a can-do attitude!
Interactive Narrative- Printed Futures is a brand-new, open summer course in English, starting at the end of May.
The course, which is very practical, is a part of the great selection of courses the Open Iceland University of the Arts offers in 2019 and gives students a foundational skillset to start working with code and electronics, with no previous experience needed.
The tutor, Sam Rees, is an artist and designer from the UK who moved to Iceland in 2013.
Sam went to school on the Malvern Hills, growing up near the border of Wales in the UK. “Back in the day it was a famous place of respite for the rich and famous - like rehab for celebs in the late 1800’s. People came and took cold showers, drank the spring water and ran up and down the hills. The gas lampposts which inspired CS Lewis Narnia are here - some have just been converted to be powered by dog-poop!”
For his degree he headed north to Manchester and studied Interactive Arts - a broad, transdisciplinary course, focused on creative thinking and independent study.
Sam and his wife Marina moved to Iceland in 2013. “I just felt like I was stagnating in London and wanted a really radical shift. We first visited Iceland in 2008 to do a residency in Seyðisfjörður at Skaftfell and had dreamed of living here since then. But it wasn´t until we returned for another residency on Hrísey in 2013, that everything fell into place and we moved here long term. Living in remote rural environments like Hrísey and Húsavík was very exciting and refreshing at the time.”
Scientific way of thinking
Before coming to Iceland Sam lived in Slovakia for a year designing posters for a cultural centre in an abandoned railway station. “When living in London I worked in prepress design at a print factory and did a brief stint as a cheese monger, selling cheese on Borough market. But mostly, I worked in cultural centres and spent a lot of time self-publishing, distributing and making multiples on the side. I took part in all the zine and small press fairs and we had a great studio in Brixton market.”
It was around that time he started getting into collecting and taking apart electronic waste. “I was always strong in STEM subjects at school and really missed this after my BA. Figuring out ways to bring a more mathematical or scientific way of thinking back into my life was important to me, so I started learning more coding and electronics. I had no idea how I would connect it to my creative practice at the time though.”
Spinning palm tree on top
The last few years Sam has been working on a series of interactive dioramas using scrap robotics and found junk. “I made a few on residencies last year - at Signal Culture in upstate New York and one in a fab lab in rural Portugal. I´ve also been collecting obscure DIY printers and toy printing sets from 1880s - 1990s. I showed these at Harbinger before Christmas + we made a publication using them. Most recently I made an interactive mask for Design March. It had a spinning palm tree on top,” says Sam. More of his work can be found on his website here.
Foundational skillset to work with code and electronics
With all this experience, it’s an absolute delight for the Open IUA to have Sam offer the exciting, brand-new course, Interactive Narrative- Printed Futures. After the course people can expect to have gained the foundational skillset to start working with code and electronics. “Students will get an overview of the toolkit needed to start engaging with physical computing, using code to work with sensors and control sound, light or motion on a small scale. They’ll get an idea of the possible application of these new technologies to their discipline and an overview of possible future developments in interactive media with regards to print.”
Here's a video showing what the skillset could entail.
A generalist with a can-do attitude
Who would Sam encourage to do the course? “Anyone interested in starting to apply new technologies, interactivity, code and electronics to a creative practice. Anyone interested in exploring possible futures for printed matter. Anyone who is a generalist with a can-do attitude!”