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Meet David Glicksman of Applied Esoterics

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Glicksman.

David, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been working in the intersection of art and technology for as long as I can remember – it was more or less inevitable. My father was a curator in the 60s and 70s and was a pioneer of the Art and Technology movement before it was even a movement. When he eventually left the art world, it was to explore the new world of Personal Computers. My brother was born with cerebral palsy, and my parents used an early Apple computer to prove to the school board that he could read, communicate and, ultimately, think.

My mom eventually founded a non-profit to help people with disabilities get access to computers and adaptive technology. I spent my childhood hacking toys and building adaptive computer interfaces when most kids had barely seen a copy of Oregon Trail. My brother and I did all of our drawings, writing and playing on the computer, which meant that the computer itself disappeared for us. We weren’t using a word processor, we were writing. We weren’t playing computer games, we were just playing. As that play eventually led to programming, animating, and computer engineering, it felt completely natural.

In my professional life I was drawn to motion graphics and visual effects. For years it was a field that ticked all the boxes for me. I used cutting edge technology to make art! Every few months I worked on something completely new, moving fluidly between tools, disciplines, and media, and solving technical and creative problems at the same time. But being an arty technical weirdo kept me restless, and I eventually had to move past the flat rectangle of “the screen.”

Luckily I live in LA, which has always been an incredible city for arty tech weirdos, and that cross-discipline, holistic view of art-making has served me well. In the last decade, I’ve had the great fortune to work on major Hollywood movies, video games, interactive architectural installations, public art, reactive nightclubs, VR experiments, projection mapped buildings, children’s museums, comic-con experiences, even an opera.

My own art fuses the best of these disparate media as well. The lines separating film, music, architecture, narrative and – well, everything – are blurring, and I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of it all.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Hell no! Being between worlds means that I’m never fully in any of them. Working with new technologies means never being familiar or comfortable with them. And, in very practical terms, doing things that have never been done before means there’s not a lot of clients asking you to do them.

It’s also been scary working as a jack of all trades. With any of the fifty different things I’m good at, there’s always a specialist who’s much better at one of them. My career has relied on personal relationships, client education, carefully worded proposals, and a very heavy dose of hustle. To tell you the truth it’s exhausting – but it’s the only way I know how to be. Besides, it’s often incredibly rewarding, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

Applied Esoterics – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My business is me. Applied Esoterics has evolved from straightforward animation freelancing to something a bit more, well, esoteric. I build interactive, site-specific installations and reactive environments for clients in a diverse range of fields, from entertainment to architecture and everywhere in between. Some people call it Experience Design, some people call it Creative Technology.

Sometimes I call it Subversive Imagineering or, when I’m feeling generous, I call it “turning real places into imaginary places.”

A lot of firms take the approach of developing technology than looking for ways to use it. And many designs and animation studios are trying to embrace new technology, but don’t know how to think outside of their traditional pipelines. As someone with experience on both sides of that equation I’m able to see a larger picture, and integrate everything from the client’s original vision, through design, system architecture, software and hardware development, animation, sound, lighting, procurement, installation, and documentation.

I take a holistic view of the environment, the message, the feeling that experience is trying to evoke, and trust that the technology will rise to the occasion. I’m currently working for Buck Design (www.buck.tv) as a senior animator and creative technologist. They are one of the few, exceptional studios that understand the power of cross-discipline creativity, and are starting to really do it right. It’s been a blast working with them.

I am proud of the major installations I’ve contributed to, and even more proud of the few installations I’ve been able to design and oversee myself. Occasionally I’m proud of my own fine art. When it really comes down to it though, I am most proud of my community of arty tech weirdos who are working tirelessly to make the world a cooler place to live.

This field, whatever we choose to call it, is small but growing rapidly. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish next.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Man, I wish I knew! Then maybe I could slow down a little bit – or at least approach it from one angle. But success in this field means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Personally, I rely on gut feelings more often than not. When an experience is really firing on all cylinders – working together on multiple registers to deliver something meaningful, emotional, maybe even awe-inspiring – you just feel it.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2130 W 28th st. Los Angeles, CA 90018
  • Website: appliedesoterics.com
  • Phone: (310) 382-0688
  • Email: david@appliedesoterics.com
  • Instagram: @appliedesoterics

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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