My Story (Part 1)

Erasmus. Semester abroad, Lisbon 2010. During the day I was travelling in the charming capital of Portugal, I went to IADE, the “Creative University” and took courses on photography and signage systems. Often I sat with fellow students at the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara and looked over this breathtaking city in summery temperatures.

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Lisbon 2010

At night, however, I experienced a terrible, exhausting insomnia. I wrestled with an endless stream of questions of meaning that threatened to drive me out of my mind: “Why should I become a designer?” and “What is the point of it all?”. There was a demon living inside of me that hadn’t left me alone for months and I had an idea where it came from.

Cause and effect

In my early youth my parents ran a very successful design agency with 25 employees. The family business experienced a fabulous rise in the nineties. More and more project inquiries came in, Deutsche Bahn became a contract customer, the growth seemed to be unstoppable. During this time, my parents made a fatal mistake, as it turned out later. They bought a large, prestigious office building at an attractive but very high price in order to ensure the company’s long-term scalability.

When the planes flew into the towers in New York in 2001, the economy and the agency also suffered a crash from a great height of fall. The biggest client, for whom many other clients had to leave, jumped off. The global economy fell into a depression. Over a period of two years, every single employee had to leave. The mood in the company was poisoned, the ship sank and so did our family. Everything was gone: All money, our house, simply everything.

This was a traumatic experience for me as a teenager, which still shapes me today. For me, from that point on, the words “design” and “agency” were synonymous with a feeling closest to that of free fall.

Surrender and guidance

2010, in the middle of my studies, semester abroad, Lisbon: My questions about the meaning of my profession and the direction in which I was heading became louder and louder. Like flashbacks, memories of the time after 2001 came back to me.

I also found myself in an enormous contradiction: Nothing suited me more than creative work and nothing fulfilled me more in terms of content. I loved my profession. The days in the city of Lisbon were also wonderful. Nevertheless, I was gripped by despair and I realized that I was carrying a serious problem with me. In Lisbon, my mind was running wild.

I had no choice but to fly back home after 2 months, where I realized that I had been struggling with depression for months or even years. I pulled the emergency brake with all my strength and took a break for a semester and a half.

Everything was somehow broken, I had completely given up on myself. And yet my intuition led me, with an invisible hand, in a direction that I still follow consistently to this day.

A new beginning

When I regained my strength after a few months, I thought about how I could spend my upcoming vacation semester meaningfully. I intuitively did something that at first glance seemed completely irrational and applied for an internship at a school. I assisted in music lessons, gave percussion lessons to schoolchildren, worked on a large theatre project with 70 people, and had evening-long conversations with a teacher who became a good friend.

The teaching went by itself. It was very convenient for me to deal with young people, because I was able to put myself in their heads right from the start. It was like a epiphany and I realized that this is what I want to do in the future.

Paradoxically, after my internship at school, I realized that the design field need not be a dead end for me. I just had the wrong perspective. From a slightly different point of view, it could be the perfect combination of the things I do best: creative work and teaching people in an inspiring way.

Photo: MSD
Photo: MSD
Photo: MSD

New opportunities

When I resumed my studies, the very first week I spoke to a professor I was very impressed with and asked him if he would take me on as an assistant. He agreed.

The challenges were enormous: because of the double A-levels, Lothar and I had to supervise twice as many students. So I was given a lot of responsibility right from the start and looked after my students on the same level as my colleague. We complemented each other very well and unconsciously played an effective game: He was the Bad Cop, I was the Good Cop. I was on fire and fully in my element.

“Generative Gestaltung” by Claudius Lazzeroni, Hartmut Bohnacker, Benedikt Groß, Julia Laub

During this time I not only learned a lot about myself, but also about trends and tendencies in design and technology. The book “Generative Design”, which came out during this time, fascinated me especially. To create visual worlds with programming was a magical idea for me, which immediately captivated me. However, a few more years were to pass before I got around to becoming active and learning programming.

Audience with the dean

Soon I thought about how I could become a professor too, so I made an appointment with the dean to ask him this question. But I looked into stunned eyes. How could this naive undergraduate student express such an immodest wish? But for me, it had nothing to do with immodesty. I just wanted to be able to do what would satisfy me the most. He told me that this goal could only be achieved with enormous effort. But I was ready for that!

Home

After two years of tutoring I graduated. Then I was drawn back to my home town where many of my old friends still lived. My father offered me a job as marketing manager in his own, newly founded furniture design company in my hometown Paderborn. I wanted to gain professional experience and decided to take the job.

However, working in the company bored me to death and so I soon looked for a suitable job leisure activities. I started to design a live show for electronic music, which works completely without computers. That was what really made me happy at that time: the free experiment within tight restrictions, where I could make all decisions myself.

Injuvik

I soon played concerts in various locations and at festivals, but I always had the feeling that my music only worked properly with visuals. In my studies I had produced several abstract music videos and without film in the background I felt naked. As a musician I only delivered the soundtrack of an exciting film. Nevertheless the gigs went better and better and I got more and more requests for bigger and bigger concerts.

Me as “INJUVIK”

The beginning of a great friendship

In this time, around 2014, I met by chance my most important creative companion and sparring partner to this day: Patrik Hübner.

We drank a few beers together and talked about our jobs. He was a successful but rather bored designer in an eCommerce agency, responsible for the user interface design of complex online shops. His biography was interesting: Already as a child Patrik programmed software and his path led him from programming to design. I was immediately fascinated by his enormous seriousness and his communication talent.He, on the other hand, liked my creativity and my self-directed projects, especially the music.

Patrik Hübner (2014)

Very soon we came up with an exciting idea: Patrik could develop the visuals for my live show. Since he had no idea about classical VJing, but was very familiar with software development, it was obvious for him to approach the topic with programming. I showed him Processing and the book “Generative Design” and that was the moment that changed everything.

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Our first gig: Injuvik feat. Patrik Hübner @ Café Kleidsam Paderborn

Patrik spent day and night learning processing and generative design. Within a very short time he had written a software that transforms my music directly into generative visuals via the microphone input of his laptop. It was the most incredible and beautiful thing I had ever seen. At the first live show, we placed a beamer directly in front of the stage and beamed at me along with the stage background during the performance. The few people in the room went crazy!

Injuvik Collective

Over a period of about a year, later enriched by Stefan Schneider, a wonderful drummer, we played bigger and bigger concerts as a trio. The shows were extremely well received and soon we were already planning our first tour. Patrik was getting better from week to week and made several new, fascinating discoveries in this promising new world of “Creative Coding”. Soon the visuals became three-dimensional and that was the moment when an scary thought came to my mind: I felt a fatal interest in what Patrik was doing.

Injuvik Collective: photo by Jan Lamprecht
Injuvik Collective: photo by Jan Lamprecht

The euphoria couldn’t be increased, the band started to plan, the two of them just wanted to play, rehearse, record music videos and fine-tune the live show. I on the other hand felt more and more burdened from day to day. It became more and more clear to me that I had to leave this project to become free and to explore the world of programming myself. The music began to bore me, but the generative visuals, on the other hand, inspired me. I wanted to learn and explore that too! Preferably together with Patrik.

Breaking Up

As expected, the conversation was disastrous. Patrik was in a rage, had bad insults on his tongue, which he swallowed and which I could read in his eyes. I had destroyed his world.

It was completely clear to me that I could only make this decision alone and that there was no alternative. To dissolve the project was the only possible way, after all I was the center of the project. Everything went through me: the music composition, the booking, the planning, simply everything.

I had a lot of understanding for this and I felt incredibly sorry for our drummer Stefan and for Patrik. Both had invested all their energy into this thing. But I also knew that every day I waited with this decision would make the implementation of the plan worse. I did not want to go on tour! I wanted to learn Creative Coding! I was absolutely determined and sure that I was doing the right thing.

Coding in the woods

After a week of silence, Patrik went “Click!”. Although we weren’t a band anymore, we now had a common theme that promised endless potential and which was still completely unexplored and waiting to be discovered. That was another key moment. At that point in time it was not yet clear to us what explosive power our sparring partnership would have. Together, with different backgrounds, with the commitment to share everything and move forward together, that was the best breeding ground for the development of our ideas.

We rented a wooden cabin in the forest, cut off from the outside world, without internet or telephone signal. Here we spent a week and Patrik taught me all the basic principles he had understood by now. It was the most productive week of my life. Dozens of animations were the result of this creative ecstasy.

After the week in the forest we called “Coding in the woods”, I shared my results on tumblr in the social web. The feedback was tremendous: Within a very short time I had a thousand followers, by tagging my animations kept popping up while searching for “Creative Coding” in the social media.

I had laid the foundation for my future and was now on a path that felt right. A wonderful time full of obstacles and exciting experiences was waiting for me. The direction has not changed until today.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Published by Tim on Sunday April 5, 2020

Last modified on May 3rd, 2020 at 19:13


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