A Conversation With: Sakchin Bessette
One of the things that set Further Future apart from any other festival was its speaker series. Outstanding figures from the fields of artificial intelligence, food, psychology, and many more gathered to share their visions of what’s next for their disciplines. Given our personal love and fascination with everything that goes into making these events a reality, the Visions of Light and Sound panel particularly caught our interest. We had the chance to catch up with its keynote speaker, Sakchin Bessette, co-founder of Moment Factory, after our journey into the Future. Bessette has served as Executive Creative Director of the dynamic organization since its beginnings in 2001. With a background in photography and passion for storytelling, he has continually pushed the boundaries of new media and events (or experiences, as they rightfully refer to them) as we know them. From playing a role in the design of everything from the LAX Airport to Phish’s Magnaball festival to Jean Paul Gauliter’s touring exhibiton, the Moment Factory is an unrivaled creative powerhouse. Read on to discover some of the reasons why, and Bessette’s vision of the future.
RP: Hey there! How was your experience at Further Future?
SB: It was great. I had lots of fun.
You were part of the Visions of Sound and Light panel on Sunday – what all did you guys discuss?
Light, immersive spaces of the future, software, DJing… It was a panel so you can’t get too deep in your chats like you would at a conference but it was nice. I think people appreciated it.
Did you catch any artists or speakers that really captured you?
I liked Nico Jaar – his lighting setup was great. And I liked a whole bunch of things, but at these festivals I don’t know everyone’s names, you know!
Happy soon to be 15th anniversary to Moment Factory! When you founded it, did you think you’d be doing what you’re doing now?
Not really. Back then, nothing we’re doing was the same. There was no industry. We started out VJing basically in clubs and parties and special events. It’s since shifted due to all the different projects and opportunities we’ve gotten to collaborate on.
We saw you have a history in the early rave days – what were some of your favorite parts of that community and those events? How has that influenced where you are today?
It’s the roots of everything. What’s fun with that is that I started off doing slide projections and 16MM projections.. I was doing a lot of photography and that was a nice way to show people my work. It was awesome to be part of the electronic music revolution. Things grew from there. It was exploring a new way to tell stories.
You make a point to cater to many senses and emotions in each of your experiences, from concerts to casinos to retail stores. They’re incredibly powerful. I actually got my first tattoo because I saw Nine Inch Nails’ Lights in the Sky tour in 2008. How do you manage to consistently use something so inhuman, technology, to create such real human experiences?
That was a great event! We consider technology a tool to create experiences. Like cars that take you from one place to another or phones which allow us to communicate right now, technology is a tool but it’s not the goal. The goal is to entertain people and push the boundaries of experiences. We use technology but we also use storytelling and all sorts of different environments.
What are some of the ways you stay creatively fresh both as an individual and an organization?
That’s an interesting question. As an organization, we consider ourselves a self-sustaining ecosystem. Everyone participates in keeping the environment productive and playful. Everyone’s sharing and seeing what’s going on and looking at each other’s work. Inspiration comes in a variety of ways. For me personally, I also keep an art practice. Exploring different art worlds and researching different worlds helps keep me inspired on different levels. It’s more long-term research than a project-driven thing.
I’ve seen some photos of your office and really dig how you have it set up as more of a constant flow than people being stuck in little cubes.
Yeah for sure. It’s more about innovating and pushing ourselves than a neat line where you know where it’s going to start and end, so there are a lot of challenges along the way, but it’s interesting. We collaborate between different disciplines a lot. We’ll take a programmer, a coder, and an architect and put them together on a project so it’s a combination of lots of knowledge.
What is a recent challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
Different projects always come with new challenges because of our desire to innovate. Whether it’s the creative aspect of it, the technology aspect of it, or the context – like mapping on buildings, or setting up in forests or on cruise ships or in airports. It’s about tuning into our partners’ or our clients’ realities. An over-arching challenge is how to keep the small, supportive, family vibe in a structure that keeps getting bigger. Attracting the right talent is also a challenge. And not only do they have to have the talent but also the right cultural mindset.
Do you think any currently buzzed-about technology like VR, wearables, or the internet of things will play a role in the future of events or how we gather?
I think it’s up to the technology to evolve. To this point, virtual reality is very isolating. It will require toying with all of these things. For us it’s all about bringing people together instead of isolating them with personal devices.
Lastly – One of the items Further Future told everyone to bring was their vision of the future. What’s yours and what are you doing to make it a reality?
Humans need interaction. Socially, physically. Like gathering around a camp fire. If you can imagine the world in 50 years, with all the developments in augmented reality and social networking and all that, it’s possible evolutionally that we become extremely isolated and don’t need to leave our houses any more because we have such a great social life online. I think it’s important to create good enough entertainment to convince them to leave their comfort zones of their solo environments. That’s what we do.
Top photo by Jacob Avanzato. Nine Inch Nails photo by Rob Sheridan.