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Niel McLaren – Biography

Niel McLaren is a creative technologist based in Vancouver, BC. With a background in Computer Science and Psychology, he explores topics like distortion of time and space, geometry in nature, and how technology changes human interaction. His artwork often takes the form of interactive video projections and light sculptures and has been displayed in Your Kontinent Festival, the HR MacMillan Space Centre Planetarium, and Integrate Arts Festival. He was awarded Best in Innovation at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire in 2016.

Niel also runs the Vancouver Creative Technology meetup and taught creative coding for a youth mentorship program for emerging artists at VIVO Media Arts Centre and Tangible Interaction.

Select installations
2016
MiniMoshi. ReCharge. Croatian Cultural Centre, Vancouver
MoshiMoshi. Otherworld. Pachena Bay, Bamfield
Obscurious. Curiosity Collider: Neural Constellations. HR MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver Obscurious. Integrate Arts Festival: Lux et Voluptas. Limbic Media, Victoria
2015
MoshiMoshi. Burn in the Forest. Cheam Fishing Village, Agassiz
Stillness. Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. PNE Forum, Vancouver
2014
The Watchful Forest. RAW Awakening. Club 560, Vancouver
Time Distortion Machine. MakerLabs We’re Here. MakerLabs, Vancouver
Time’s Turn. Your Kontinent Festival. Minoru Park, Richmond
MoshiMoshi. Integrate Arts Festival: Lux et Voluptas. Limbic Media, Victoria

2013
The Artifact and the Living. I’ll Be Back… to the Future. Hot Art Wet City, Vancouver
Time Distortion Machine. Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. PNE Forum, Vancouver
Video Loops. Lab Art Show. West 7 Studios, Vancouver
LikeSticky. No Memes No. Hot Art Wet City, Vancouver
Other contributions
2016
Instructor for HALO Youth Mentorship Program. VIVO Media Arts Centre, Vancouver
2015
Instructor for Creative Coding with Processing workshops. VIVO Media Arts Centre, Vancouver
2013
Artist in residence. Laser Cutter Café, Vancouver

Culture Flock by Neil McLaren

I want to dance with abstract concepts I can barely wrap my head around. It is one thing to learn by reading about a subject but if you can play with an idea like playing a musical instrument you develop an intuition about it. You learn how it feels.

In my art practice, I build interactive tools that help me learn how these abstract concepts feel. I refine these tools over time while exploring different visual representations and interactions.

In Culture Flock I explore the relationship between culture and the individual. Specifically, how does culture influence a person? And how can they influence culture?

A computer algorithm for simulating flocks of birds is repurposed as a metaphor for culture. The algorithm does not explicitly control the movement of the flock. Rather, it gives each bird simple rules to align with its neighbours and to avoid flying too close together or too far apart. The flocking behaviour emerges from the actions of the individual birds just as culture emerges from our collective knowledge and beliefs.

I hope to portray culture and the interactions between cultures in a beautiful way while giving you a feel for the delicate balance required to influence culture as an individual.

Please feel welcome to touch the screen. A tracer will appear under your finger and attract one of the nearby birds so you can control it by dragging your finger around. Each bird affects the movement of its neighbours so you’ll have some influence over your bird’s neighbours and, indirectly, over the whole flock.