Digital Dallas Artist Spotlight: Jeremy McKane

Underwater fashion photographer Jeremy McKane has traveled around the world to capture the movement and grace of fabric-draped forms under water. In partnership with futurist Aliaksei Rubinau, McKane has developed the world’s first mind-controlled digital video art installation, which we’re excited to showcase at < Art / Code > July 27! Get to know McKane, and be sure to grab your tickets to < Art / Code > to experience LUCiD firsthand.

Jeremy McKane

What we think, we become. That’s the thought behind the LUCiD Project by < Art / Code > artist Jeremy McKane and his co-founder Aliaksei Rubanau—but there’s more to the story than that.

Exploring new digital frontiers

Ever since the early days of the modern internet, McKane has been at the forefront of technology, exploring new digital frontiers across the land, air and sea.

In the early 1990’s, McKane was a technician for a company that became one of the first internet providers for the average consumer in Dallas. “Within four years,” says McKane, “we [Onramp Technologies] became the world’s largest web hosting provider.”

From there, McKane took to the skies, manufacturing drones (which his friends simply assumed involved him playing with remote-controlled helicopters) and using his artistic abilities to photograph architecture.

As his artistic talents developed, McKane was soon drawn to the sea. “There were only a few people doing underwater fashion,” says McKane, “and it was something I had been wanting to get into. Eventually, I graduated to the ocean and it has become a story that continues to evolve. Like the ocean, my work is a living thing—constantly changing with world events.”

A deep dive in ocean conservation

Now a full-fledged underwater fashion photographer, McKane has “traveled the world to capture the human form in its most graceful element, water.” On one such excursion several years ago, McKane was visiting a private island in the far north of Queensland, Australia for what he describes as “an epic day of mud crabbing and oyster free-diving.”

“Upon our arrival,” says McKane, “we saw this boat that had been washed ashore. I’d never been to this part of Australia in all my adventures.” “Keep in mind,” he continues, “that when I’m this remote, I rarely see another human being. Yet on this day, the evidence of human beings was all around. Tens of thousands of flip flops, scuba tanks, red solo cups, plastic bags, water bottles... I could go on. As far as the eye could see there was plastic. There were bits of micro plastic and nano-plastic all around me. The beach wasn't sand; it was plastic.”

“I didn’t have anything to say,” says McKane. “I didn’t even know where to start. My first thought was that we should do something... But what?”

Meditation-based art

As McKane continued his adventures around the world, his memories of flotsam-filled oceans followed. On a trip to Renaca, Chile, McKane was speaking to startup entrepreneurs when he met his co-founder for LUCiD, Aliaksei Rubanau. “He told me,” recounts McKane, “he had technology to turn lights on and off with his mind—which I didn’t believe.”

Not only did it work—it was, as McKane puts it, “amazing. I could control computers simply by thought.” As the two (quite literally) brainstormed the technology’s potential use, McKane suggested they create “a meditation-based art installation to bring the ocean to the masses.”

“Maybe,” McKane hypothesized, “we could build awareness and empathy where others had failed. Beyond this, we could show positive imagery if we wanted positive results.”

And so, the two have turned idea into action with the LUCiD Project, a commission by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary out of Vienna, Austria, which aims to create awareness around the health of our oceans using mind-controlled art.

By using a portable EEG (which is essentially a brain control interface), McKane can gauge how calm you are and how much you remain in the present moment. “If you can clear your mind,” says McKane, “and imagine what things might look like without plastic, I show you all the amazing things that the ocean has to offer.”

And amazing things does it have to offer, indeed. At < Art / Code > July 27, we invite you to travel with us through LUCiD as McKane brings the beauty of our planet’s oceans to you.

Get your tickets today!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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