Slow Immediate is the art production studio of artist-engineers, Xin Liu and Gershon Dublon. The duo—who have backgrounds in mechanical and electrical engineering—creates sensory experiences grounded in science and engineering that explore the role of technology in society and its expansive and interrogative possibilities. Their work, which bridges the gap between art and science ranges from distributed acoustic ecology and zero-gravity robotics, to sound installations and sculpture to virtual reality films. Here, Slow Immediate answers our Four Questions for Founders.
1. Tell us about the journey since Slow Immediate’s launch.
Driven by our belief that immediacy to self and environment is pivotal to being human on our shared planet, our mission is to spark unexpected, intimate moments of perception that bridge the inner self and the outside universe. We met as graduate students at the MIT Media Lab, where we were both researching the impact of technology on human perception and exploring ways of using technology to foster sensitivity. Xin was looking inwards, at how interoceptive feedback loops—unconscious perceptions of our own breathing, for example—make us who we are, but also give us the capacity to shift and change. Gershon was looking outwards, at how large-scale environmental sensing could expand the perception of environmental change. When we graduated, it felt like a natural fit to bring our perspectives and respective expertise together.
Towards the end of our time at MIT, Xin became deeply involved in a new initiative there focused on space exploration, beginning with a project focused on a novel, spider-like approach to zero-gravity mobility. That project evolved into one of our capstone productions, called “Living Distance,” the two-year development of which illustrates our unusual blend of artistic drive and technical advancement.
2. How are you applying transformative technology to create a positive impact?
One of our recent projects, “Living Sounds,” was created in the beginning of our self-isolation in our home in Brooklyn. In early April, like everyone else feeling scared, disoriented, and disconnected from nature when we needed it most, we started listening to and sharing a live audio stream from one of our earlier projects. The sound is mixed from dozens of microphones that we had previously (and permanently) installed in a large restored wetlands called Tidmarsh, in Plymouth, MA. We built a website providing 24/7 ambient access to the living wetlands that were just entering the spring blossom season.
3. What has been your biggest challenge as co-founders, and how have you learned from it?
It is delicate and challenging to balance our artistic pursuit, rigorous research, and sustainable growth. We have been lucky enough to work with like-minded people and get support from our community. In many ways, we are still learning how to do all these things. We try to be flexible and adapt as we go. You never know what will happen (like the year 2020?!).
4. What role has Newlab played in helping you advance Slow Immediate?
Newlab has given us the tools to prototype and build whatever we could dream of. Coming out of a research institution and into the creative landscape of New York City, it is tremendously difficult to muster both the community of like minds and the advanced tooling required to innovate at the technological forefront. With our playing field being advanced technology, and our goals being creative expression and experimentation, Newlab’s support has enabled us to pursue projects that would not have been possible otherwise.
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