Our Newest member embarks on her maiden voyage of LA culture.
I’m sitting in the moonlight, gazing across a lake of still water and erected airplane tails. The music is atmospheric and calming. The passers-by are effortlessly stylish: no one looks like they’ve thought about their ensemble for more than 30-seconds. I’m peaceful, meditative, pensive. The air is heavy, good heavy, like a duvet. The crowd around me is docile as they wander through each of the spaces with a hum of fascination.
I’m with Frank Lin, Olivia Lieu and Brittney Cottrell, three of my colleagues from Hydro Studios. We’re at one of the largest art installations to ever have been staged, Simon Birch’s three-acre creation in Downtown LA - ‘The 14th Factory’. We have just emerged from another space in which we were surrounded by the surprisingly elegant, slow-motion annihilation of a vintage Ferrari (one of Birch’s last material possessions) on six huge screens. As I look around me I am suddenly struck by my surroundings, where I am, and how much has changed.
Six weeks ago, I was in a very different environment. Replace the duvet air with a wind on O’Connell street that would go through you for a shortcut and the pensive state with the buzz of a Dublin pub. Having grown up slinging Guinness in my parents’ pub, and then managing the online marketing for a drinking establishment, this buzz quickly evolved into a more of a swarm. While it was an entertaining and engaging profession, as time went by, I began to yearn for peace, a different pace, and started to seek out an inner tempo that lends itself less to the chants of an inebriated crowd in a bar and more to the lilt of Jim Morrison.
The person who embodied this feeling most to me was a friend I met in my Master’s program - a Californian, of course. Devon Baur, who is now the Project Manager for 'Tree', a VR experience and also runs the Topanga Film Institute. She had an opinion of life that made me feel like she’d been on this earth before. She never failed to dissolve any frivolous worries I had with anymore than two or three sentences that seemed predetermined, but were always off the cuff. She described her hometown, Topanga, and LA in general with such wistfulness that I couldn’t help but feel it was the brain massage I needed. So, one evening, after a few drinks, Devon called my bluff and we decided that I would apply for my Visa the following week.
There is a little ball of light that floats in the core of every Irish person’s soul; a magical enigma we call ‘the craic’. Pronounced ‘crack’ but luckily spelled differently in Irish to its illegal namesake, the Craic is the cloud of enjoyment that hovers over a group of Irish people who are most likely drinking, chatting, dancing, singing and ‘acting the maggot’, as we like to say. I’m not sure what the Californian equivalent of the Craic is, but I can only speculate that the little ball of light floating in their soul is in no rush to do anything, does yoga on the beach and looks after all aspects of their health.
Thus far, my free time in California has been spent doing things that can only have a calming effect on me. Being able to sit outside in the evening to watch the sunset in April without an anorak is a welcome phenomenon, wearing dungarees to the office (e.g. today) is not frowned upon, ordering anything including kale or avocado does not warrant an eye-roll and being in the company of people who can have only one or two beers without being heckled is also refreshing. Even typing this, I can hear my peers groaning from 5000 miles away (that’s 8000 km, lads). I’m sure much of this difference is indeed attributed to Vitamin D absorption but there is no denying the infectious collective-Zen in LA that’s borderline epidemic.
I wouldn’t have expected to have felt this Zen so potently while watching a 1980’s Ferrari Mondial being violently obliterated across six screens in HD, but nonetheless I was mesmerized. I can only imagine the liberation of this moment for Birch. The UK born artist has been working on this project for seven years after surviving a cancer scare. Once cured, he sold everything he owned and moved from his permanent home in Hong Kong to LA.
One of Birch’s goals with The 14th Factory was to collaborate with a multitude of interdisciplinary artists and together create an immersive adventure for the visitor. The exhibition boasts an impressive array of mediums from the collection of contributors: A replica of a set from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, a man-made meadow with vacant swings eerily swaying of their own accord, a video installation of a marvelously muscled man suspended in mid-air and falling for what seems like eternity, 300 pitch forks frozen before they become lethal to those below and much more that I couldn’t begin to describe deservedly.
On this journey, through 14 organically linked elements, we came across video, installation, sculpture, sound, paintings and performance. Despite these elements having come from different sources, they were each instrumental in the narrative of Birch’s Odyssey and each played a cohesive and integral role in the experience of the visitor.
Back in Dublin studying Theatre to a Masters level, whether on stage or backstage, I quickly developed an addiction to story-telling. Through my creative processes, I liked to explore and experiment with the media I used. Inevitably, I ended up finding new languages and tools to communicate. This eventually led me to Digital Marketing; In this field, storytellers have the potential to reach very specific audiences with narratives tailored to their desires and behaviors. I am fascinated by the changing mediums through which all these stories are beginning to be told and how marketing, in no matter what industry, is becoming more creative.
The luck of the Irish may forever be up for debate. But in my case, I was lucky enough to be able to land an internship with Hydro Studios within two weeks of arriving in Los Angeles. With the opportunity at Hydro, I felt I was in exactly the right place to explore my passion for story-telling. The team here sees technology as being nothing unless it’s empowering and progressive and is constantly working to create new and innovative ways of telling stories.
Over the coming months, I will be documenting my journey through this new and exciting landscape, reporting on marketing trends, new technologies and emerging ways of creating and telling stories. I’ve already been on a few voyages with the Hydro team thus far, and if it’s a taste of what’s to come I’m sure it will be nothing but plain sailing.