#54: Ethan Bach
An entrepreneur with an eye on the future’s future, Ethan Bach and his crew specialize in experimentation with digital media and virtual reality — projected in domes, across walls and on interactive screens — in his search for the next big thing in visual technology. And as the guiding light at two startups — the media studio Alt Ethos Ltd. and Denver Arts + Technology Advancement, a nonprofit that provides residencies for new-media artists — Bach is interested in connecting with audiences through mind-blowing imagery and technological tricks of light. Catch him if you can, as he answers the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Ethan Bach: My current creative muse is the vision of a humanity with a bright future. I am driven by the idea that humans are in a state of evolution. I participate in the exploration of human communication through using creative technology in ways that expand connection and consciousness.
In coming up with creative ideas, I pull from everything around me. I am constantly gathering information from every experience and everyone. I also surround myself with creative people and community leaders, IRL and online, who provide inspiration daily.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party and why?
To live in the now, and to create a possibility, I would like to invite Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama to my next party. I think we would have a great time hanging out, telling stories about the past, present and future. Also, I have questions for each of them. For instance, the Dalai Lama stated in an interview I recently watched that he might not reincarnate again. Is he really serious about not reincarnating again, or is he just trying to throw off the Chinese government?
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
I have always felt embraced by the Denver community since relocating here from Santa Fe three years ago. Denver has a real heart, and there are amazing people here, making a difference. The amount of resources are incredible — I am like a kid in a candy store.
I am and will continue to be grateful. Big props to these organizations that have helped me settle in: RedLine, Think 360 Arts, the Commons on Champa, Denver Arts & Venues, Denver Metro SBDC and CBCA.
The biggest change for Denver is integrating communities while the city is changing so quickly. Increased support and opportunities through arts and nonprofit agencies will help. My hope is to build a vanguard community center in Denver that provides access and training in cutting-edge creative technology. I envision a city where all people have access to limitless creative possibilities.
How about globally?
I have the pleasure of knowing creatives all over the world through travel and hosting an international artist in residence in the digital dome, MORPHOS. When people come together around art and creativity, these are my favorite moments in life.
The world is in a really interesting place of change, and I believe artists will lead the way. The challenge is the same challenge we face over and over again as humans: to speak out and do something, be something, regardless of what obstacles lie ahead.
Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?
Trends are a reflection of what is happening in one moment in time. Observation of trends helps to understand the development and exposure of specific art, technology and segments of cultural expression. With social media, riding trends is great as people get exposed to more different things. I will often use trends to get my message out to a wider audience. #followme
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as a creative?
My current work — building two creative organizations, Alt Ethos and Denver Arts + Technology Advancement (DATA) — is my favorite accomplishment as a creative to date. These sister organizations were created on the same day, and both continue to grow and expand.
Alt Ethos is an experiential design studio that transforms physical spaces into memorable experiences by melding creative technology with compelling stories. Alt Ethos is currently expanding and keeping us busy as we take on new clients and hire more creative contractors.
Denver Arts + Technology Advancement (DATA) is a nonprofit organization striving to create a vanguard community center for public engagement, cultivating and strengthening local community by putting research, education, creation and exhibition together under the same roof. We’re currently building our DATA board, hiring volunteers and gearing up for our fourth artist-in-residence.
I am never bored.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
It might be easier to ask what's not on my bucket list. I am a person of adventure and exploration. The fact that I plan to live to be at least 120 years old means my list is rather long.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I am thoroughly enjoying Denver. I moved here in 2015 after doing much research on cities around the country. Denver is vibrant and has a ton of potential. The opportunity paired with support is an amazing combination. I am originally from the Portland area and spent thirteen years in Santa Fe. I can appreciate the weather and landscape, which is a mesh of the Southwest and the Northwest.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Ben Gondrez is the manager at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Digital Dome. He runs a biweekly meet-up that allows the public to come learn 360° production. Ben is always creating and sharing.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
My life has been far from perfect. Like anyone else, I have faced challenges, and I have felt a victim of life. Thirty years ago, I set out on a mission to feel happy and free. My ongoing transgender digital artist video memoir Bodhi Life is my way of sharing my journey and my solutions to the human condition.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
DATA will host five days of MORPHOS 360 Digital Dome and VR Workshops, from April 9 through 13 in Fort Collins. The registration fee is $1,000; sign up or learn more online.
Keep up with Ethan Bach and his various projects at ethanbach.com.