My colleague Benjamin and I spent the last week at the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis and were blown away by the inspiring and creative atmosphere and the many, many talented and fun people we had the chance to meet. The festival absolutely lived up to its claim to «bring together the most creative coders, designers and artists working today, and shaping tomorrow».
First off, we were thrilled that so many women have been invited as speakers. For whatever reason, other conferences in this field are very men-biased, which is a big oversight in our opinion. Bonus points for the many women in the audience, too, a truly diverse community!
We really enjoyed the great mixture between presentations, sessions and workshops which despite the tight schedule felt balanced and well chosen.
It was eye-opening to see Casey Reas code on a C64 emulator and create an interesting pattern using only one line of code on such an old system. We also found his «Conditional Drawing» workshop inspiring, which was all pen and paper, no computers allowed.
It was also good to have artists like Marius Watz or Nervous System around to show that it doesn’t all have to be digital, that there’s real beauty in the physical. The singing MakerBot that was installed at the conference definitely added to that.
There were also several thought-provoking talks. Natalie Jeremijenko, has shown us that design is not enough if it doesn’t lead to action. Zachary Lieberman used his skills together with a group of fellow artists/researchers, to create the EyeWriter to help his friend who suffers from ALS to make graffiti again.
The best thing about this whole conference was, that it was ok to be nerdy! Robert Hodgin’s funny and inspiring talk made it clear, what great crowd we’re in, Golan Levin’s nerdy programming lessons added to that, and Heather Knight’s social robot «Data» was the crown of it all!
Eyeo 2011 has also been well covered elsewhere, here is a small selection:
- Jan Willem Tulp, who won his ticket to the Eyeo festival with his beautiful visualization «Ghost Counties», has written several guest posts on Infosthetics and Visualizing.org.
- Leaders in Software and Art have been hard at work taking detailed minutes of the talks – we still don’t know by what magic they were able to pull this off so quickly!
- Megan Erin Miller has started a community collection of all the projects that have been seen at Eyeo.
- Michael Wang created a beautiful visual overview of all the talks he’s been to.
- Maria Popova compiled a list of 7 Essential Books on Data Visualization and Computational Art that have been mentioned by the speakers.
Eyeo wasn’t an input-only conference, the organizers made sure that everyone got to talk to everyone at the awesome evening events. They even organized a bike ride through beautiful Minneapolis on the last day, where the whole crowd visited the Walker Art Center at the other end of the town and the conference came to a cozy ending with sun and beer.
To wrap this review up, we have to say that we would be totally thrilled if Eyeo 2012 would see the light of day. With foresight we chose the title of this review accordingly… With this community it can’t go wrong, because look, we’ve even been singing with the Piano-Man at Nye’s Polonaise Room!