Fest 360°: Light-mapping the dancefloor with Frank Harris

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Lecturer-turned-digital artist Frank Harris is the resident visual performance artist at Grahamstown nightclub 37 on New. Picture: CuePix/Joshua Stein

Lecturer-turned-digital artist Frank Harris cuts a mystical figure, his moustache expertly manicured and eyes alive with contemplation. “I don’t know much about sound, and somebody always has that covered. So I looked around the club and thought: why don’t I make this look pretty?” “Little did I know that it would be a five-year journey of the most complex mathematical, scientific exploration that I’ve ever done,” says the man with the MacBook.

Resident visual performance artist at Grahamstown nightclub 37 on New, Harris has transformed the venue’s interior into an otherworldly coalescence of movement, light, and music.

His artistic tools of choice: a MacBook (worn-out from many long, high-energy nights) and three projectors (spanning an impressive 270 degrees) that reflect the dynamic nature of his innovative work.

Explore his artwork in 360° below:

“With digital art, with one stroke, I can take the work of Da Vinci and I can filigree a painting,” he says, outlining the versatile potential of the emerging discipline. “I can take the most famous work that humans feel, but perhaps can’t really talk about yet, and maybe, using picture, can provide you with an a-ha moment that makes life meaningful again.”

Harris, initially projecting onto simple forms, has begun to experiment with mapping intricate surfaces. His eventual vision – a 360-degree entirely immersive experience – evidences the grand scale of his ambition.

“I’m interested in the 3D aspect of magic,” he laughs. “It’s where I like to pull at strings that pull at nothing.”

Invoking science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, he lays out his bold vision in ethereal terms. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – I just can’t shake that,” he says. “It’s been my driving force.”


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