As of 2000, I have been collaborating under the name //benitez_vogl with new media artist Markus Vogl (Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Akron). We both are actively involved at all stages of execution and give our individual 100% to each project. Every project can be divided into the following stages: Ideation, Conceptualization, Research, Pre-Production, Fundraising, Production, Publications and Exhibitions. While we do have some overlapping skillsets, we both come from very different backgrounds and have different areas of expertise. Tasks and duties are evaluated and assigned based on our individual proficiencies.
Ideation and material decisions are made collaboratively through much discourse and deliberation. While I am well versed in working in wood and metal shops, Markus usually takes lead in physical construction in wood and metal. I usually handle any 3D modeling or CAD/CAM as I have a firm background in 3D (due to architecture and animation background). Anything that requires textiles or fashion is under my realm. Markus handles sound engineering where as I work with creating generative sound (via code in Max/MSP). Markus handles graphics and web collateral. I usually handle electronics, microcontroller and computer vision programming. I use the word “usually” due to the fact that this is not always the case. There are instances in which I may start programming a microcontroller, run into problem and ask Markus to take a look at the code or vice-versa. This is the benefit to having some overlapping skillsets. Markus excels at production management duties that are associated with running the artist studio. I am extremely proficient in research and in identifying opportunities. Fundraising is something we are both tasked with and actively sought out.
In the studio we usually have multiple projects at different stages of development in the studio due to the ebb and flow of production. Projects have different timelines and milestones. Technologically intense projects require longer production times and teams. Our most complex project, S.A.R.A., required external collaborators. The funds awarded through the National Endowment for the Arts Media Arts Grant were key in paying a programmer to help create the App. We were able to collaborate with Kim Karpanty, Associate Professor of Dance at KSU and through her choreography we were able to work with two dance groups. The second round of funding helped us not only with tech but also with fashion design and costume development. This project was the focus of our attention from April 2011 until September 2014. It would have been impossible to create something at this scale without the interdisciplinary collaboration.