The Austinites Behind the Curtain: blend.mode

Previously in this series:
Tiny Minotaur
Art Island
Erica Lies
Mike Stefanik
Ron Berry
Hyperreal Film Club
Gino Scaramuzza

We love spotlighting local creatives who are responsible for the events that we list. Remember, there would be no pig parades, facial hair competitions, dance shows in quarries, or sound installations in tree houses without the individual people who organize and promote them. In December 2022, we spoke with blend.mode—a duo of video artists, electronic music lovers, and event promoters.

Lite + Brite: How would you describe blend.mode to the uninitiated?
It’s an experimental event project created by David Sydiongco and Devin Ryan. Our focus is on creating experiences that explore the intersection of electronic music, immersive new media arts, and an inviting dance floor. 

L+B: How did you come to be involved with dadageek?
blend.mode: David: 
I was introduced to dadageek a few years ago after seeing they were offering a class on augmented reality art. This is at the beginning of my creative journey so I was really grateful to find such a supportive and open environment to discover and hone my craft.

Devin: I first got involved with dadageek through a course on TouchDesigner. Since then I’ve regularly participated in and contributed to the dadageek exhibitions with either projections or music.

L+B: OK, I have always wondered this: what is the distinction between dadaLab and dadageek?
dadageek refers to the collective of immersive artists and electronic musicians that we are part of. It’s a nonprofit with a focus on providing education and community to those creating at the intersection of art, interactive media, and tech.

dadaLab is the actual space this community often operates within, which facilitates everything from co-working and new business ventures to experimental art installations and late night raves.

L+B: How would you describe your art?
blend.mode: David: 
Generative, eldritch, and nostalgic. My work tends to be darker in tone, extracting impossible shapes, textures, and spaces from benign math concepts and natural phenomena. 90s anime, PS2 horror games, and Winamp have all had a big influence in my style.

Devin: I’ve been obsessed with electronic music for much of my life and that influences the aesthetic of my visual art. Basically, my main motivation is to create something that would accompany electronic music well. I find that geometric patterns and simple shapes with bright, saturated colors do that so that is something you see a lot of in my art. (Though I’m learning you can’t go too crazy with the brightness if you want to keep the dance floor dark. That too drives my decisions.)

L+B: What tools and technology do you use to make your art?
The majority of my work is created in TouchDesigner. For my point cloud projects, I use a few different lidar-powered apps to harvest scans of real-world objects and spaces. When running live visuals for performances and events, I use Resolume to mix between our library of video clips.  

Devin: Like David, the majority of my work is created in TouchDesigner and I use Resolume to VJ. When David and I VJ together we combine our collection and mix each other’s clips. It’s fun to see the way our styles complement each other. For music I use a mixture of analog and digital instruments which I record into and compose in Ableton. I almost always use an Intellijel Atlantis and Ableton’s fm synthesis synth, Operator.

L+B: What’s the most interesting event that you’ve contributed to, or the one you’re proudest of?
blend.mode: David: 
I’ve been a big fan of the artist Shigeto for over a decade now, so getting to create visuals for his set at Buzzfest 2022 was a huge honor. I also created the visual design for an interactive dance performance, VESSEL, alongside Emily Rushing and Rosalyn Nasky at the same event. This was my first time taking on a project of that scale and I think we created something really memorable together. 

Devin: Buzzfest 2022 was definitely the most meaningful event for me to contribute to. It was thrilling just to be brought on. I was still somewhat new to digital art and It was the first big event that I worked with. Seeing my visuals up on such a large stage, and to the music of Suzi Analogue, was really exciting.

L+B What should people expect from a blend.mode event?
A dark dance floor, bold selectors and producers, and a dizzying array of immersive projection and installation art.

L+B: What’s next for blend.mode?
We’re looking forward to throwing events quarterly and expanding our community of artists, musicians, and dancers.

L+B: What are some other Austin event organizers or spaces that you admire?
 Art IslandATX RockstarsImaginary Stereo, and Club Eternal are all orgs and spaces we’ve had the pleasure of working with and are big fans of.