Interview with Thomas Gayno of Google's Creative Lab about Wilderness Downtown

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In September, when I first saw the Wilderness Downtown, the interactive music video by director Chris Milk and musical group Arcade Fire, I said it was the best piece of Net art I'd seen in over a decade. I stand by that. Working on this tour de force of HTML5, Milk had top-notch collaborators inside Google Creative Lab. My pal David-Michel Davies, exec director of the Webby Awards, recently visited with the Lab's marketing manager Thomas Gayno there and posted some notes from their conversation:

What would you say is the main goal for the Creative Lab in supporting and working on a project like Wilderness Downtown?

The Wilderness Downtown is part of, which is one of the first projects that my team created. The main goal here was to show what the browser can really do today. I remember a friend of mine who told me the other day that he found his daughter on his computer playing with one of Mr. Doob’s Chrome Experiments, an amazing drawing tool, and she was basically going crazy making unexpected things with it. That six-year-old girl was just having a lot of creative fun through the browser, without noticing or realizing what kind of technology was beyond that. It’s quite amazing to see that now, through the browser, you can let children make things and express their creativity – having a lot of fun playing with drawing tools. Real interactions are now possible...

It’s interesting that some of these developers are pushing further into the world of artistry. In a way, coding has always been an art, but it’s a very sort of mathematical art.

Yeah, it’s fascinating that we start seeing some of these works in contemporary art museums, such as Aaron Koblin’s Flight Patterns. Aaron modeled all the flights across the US to show you how the US air traffic was actually making a lot of sense. It is a beautiful, such simple and clean animation. Things like this are now paving the way for a new generation of people who could be called data artists. I’m curious to see how universities, art schools and museums will adapt themselves to that and create new programs that combine arts with computer science. 

"Behind the Scenes of Google Creative Lab’s The Wilderness Downtown"