We now turn our attention to one of Australia’s newcomers, the interactive art developer Current Circus.
Based in Melbourne and founded in 2010 by ex-Tantalus developers Yossi Landesrocha and Paul Seedy (as CEO and CTO respectively), the small studio has poured most of its work thus far into taking its project Muse to various and broadly different play spaces.
“There’s always been this idea in the back of Yossi’s mind about how to incorporate games and music and the whole interactive music thing,” says Seedy, “so it was early 2010 that our paths crossed again and a handful of other like-minded people, and Current Circus was born.”
By like-minded, Seedy refers to the cross-section of art, music and interactivity. The company released its first title Beat Booster, then created what the pair refer to as their second ‘project’, Muse, bringing it to different platforms in collaboration with various tech partners who wanted to demonstrate what their products could do.
I was first exposed to Muse by way of seeing it as an interactive exhibition in my local Sydney shopping mall. Others might have found it on early access through Current Circus’ web site, at music festivals or as proof-of-concept demonstrations from companies with new technology.
“Because of the combinations of experience we have here,” Landesrocha explains, “we can really work well with broken, unfinished technology and find a way to still represent it well within the game. People have been happy that they have this demo from us, and we’ve been happy to be launch content that they can use."
"We’ve kind of jumped from platform to platform, gradually climbing up in the type of companies that we’re in discussion with, but we’re reaching the top now, so we really need to start making money from actual users.”
“The Muse project is what we consider to be the name of a whole body of work,” Seedy adds, “of which Alpha Muse is one part (that’s the game version of it). We’ve also had other incarnations of this technology, so Current Circus likes to keep one foot in videogames and the other foot in interactive art installations.”
The pair struggle with the question of team size, noting that there are seven or eight full timers there, but that their collaborations with others (particularly musicians) are strong enough that their head count is anything but stable. Business at their size ebbs and flows as work for other companies (on their own IP in what they call ‘innovation-for-hire’) comes in, or as they receive support, as they have done by being one of several recipients of funding from Screen Australia.
“We’ve often wondered where Current Circus would be if we were instead located in Silicon Valley,” says Seedy. “I think we’d be a lot further along, to be honest. Everything is just so much easier over there.”
Landesrocha continues: “Being able to just use a mobile phone and give someone a call on a whim is very different than meeting them accidentally at some show, developing a relationship over time on late night Skype calls (that were scheduled two days before). It really changes the way relationships work between people - really slows down the developing of those relationships. The isolation completely changes the whole business and marketing side of things.”
Muse continues to await an official release, with prototypes currently working on technology from Intel, Asus, Oculus, Sony and more.