Hellicar & Lewis

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Hellicar and Lewis is a creative partnership between Joel Gethin Lewis and Pete Hellicar, founded in 2008. Working at the intersection of art, technology and design, their work marries real world artifacts with interactive digital media to create unique and memorable experiences for a wide array of audiences.

Advocating an ‘open source’ approach to society, Hellicar and Lewis’ mission is at once educational, artistic and performative. Among an impressive list of appearances and exhibitions at colleges, galleries and cultural institutions (including the Tate and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam) Pete and Joel have also been the subject of a documentary by The Creators Project and created work for household names like Nokia, Diesel and Uniqlo. Aside from commercial work, the duo are also involved in the production of therapeutic software for young people with autism.

H&L_Somantics Image:Somantics by Hellicar & Lewis.

Using each other’s varied backgrounds and an ever changing pool of collaborators, they have remained relentless in the pursuit of novelty and originality. Central to their practice has been a wholehearted embracing of the open source philosophy, whereby the source code for all the software they design and distribute is devoid of copyright restrictions and free for others to tweak and build upon.

H&L_Nike Feel_600 Image: Nike “Feel London”. Photo by Lydia Garnett.

The upshot of making previous creations available to the community at large is that Hellicar and Lewis is constantly involved in exploring new avenues for their practice. Most recently, the duo hosted Feel TV as part of Nike’s ongoing Feel London series of events at the 1948 boutique in Shoreditch. The project involved playing with the staid television format to bring new levels of interactivity to broadcasting. By either sending direct commands to change the visual experience, switching between effects or posting in real time, viewers of Feel TV on Dazed Digital could tweet commands to influence the actions of performers from the Associate Artists of the English National Ballet, the London Contemporary Orchestra, and Run Dem Crew and create unique visuals.

Colliding interactive software with real, physical performance was also at the heart of Hellicar and Lewis’ Hello Cube. In March 2012, the Hello Cube took over the Turbine Hall bridge in the Tate Modern, as part of the gallery’s Infinite Kusama exhibition. Hellicar and Lewis’ creation was the world’s first ‘twitterable object’, which could be interacted with remotely from anywhere in the world via Twitter, as well as directly in the gallery. Rooted in the conviction that it is only in physical reality where memories are made, the Hello Cube brought the magic of technology to a tactile object, and created a feedback loop between the real and the virtual.

H&L_cube_tate_02Image: Hello Cube, Tate Modern Turbine Hall.

Such ideas also surrounded Hellicar and Lewis’ Divide by Zero piece, an interactive dance performance made with Nina Umniakov, and first performed by Catarina Carvalho at the Laban School. Divide by Zero captured the real-time body movements of a dancer and translated them into a digital art uniquely reliant on human movement. In keeping with Hellicar and Lewis’ driving ethos, the source code is freely available at Github.

H&L_Divide by Zero_ Image:Divide By Zero.

If you are coming to Exchange, expect to hear about the latest in interactive design and the possibilities made available through open source practice from the two men at the forefront of the intersection between people, tech and art.