Ana Constantino is known for taking creative concepts and birthing them on a grand scale. This Brooklyn-based out-of-the-box creative producer hopes to transform how people gather and connect online.
In the midst of lock down she she launched the online platform Nowhere. This socializing and events site nurtures face-to-face intimacy while using innovative 3D landscapes.
Constantino began her career in both New York and her native Rio. Fascinated by the intersection of art, technology and new media, she led projects involving all these mediums. She specialized in bringing creative concepts into implementation on a grand scale. Always one to challenge herself, she helped launch an animation festival that was projected on a water screen in the middle of a lake.
Her artistic visions were intensified when she met theater artist Jon Morris who explored ideas around the creation of public art. In 2009, their large scale installation slide, “The Wedge,” which they did for Burning Man, cemented their reputation as the creators of epic and interactive pieces at Burning Man. They ultimately expanded their creative partnership bringing sublime art installations to public spaces and established the arts collective, The Windmill Factory.
Through Nowhere Constantino and her team hope to create a more intimate life-like connection in an ever-growing online world. One recent Nowhere event was held on a virtual Brooklyn rooftop. Mason Granger, whose poem was performed during the Golden Globes, recited a recent work. Lauren Elder, a Broadway performer and champion whistler sang. With the 3D technology the idea is to replicate the experience of being at a live event as you navigate around in a nonagon-shaped pod.
“There are many different environments to discover,” says Constantino. Guests can watch a show in a black box theater, host a meeting in the clouds or discover secret rooms.
Using live face-to-face interaction every Thursday Nowhere has comedy, music and an open-mic. Participants can listen to performers while networking a room the very same way they would in real life or even even have a private conversation in a stained-glass water tower or moss-covered library. The free event starts at 8:07 pm on Thursdays.
As Constantino explains one person who visited Nowhere said it felt he was attending a party for the first time in over a year. “Doing something you love while having a great experience, in a situation that previously would fall flat when transferred online, is what we're creating,” says Constantino. “Nowhere fosters opportunities for people to experience something unexpected together and creates space for serendipity to happen.”
Jeryl Brunner: What have been some of the challenges creating Nowhere?
Ana Constantino: Most of our team have never seen each other in real life. I believe that in Nowhere we have the advantage for having a space where we socialize and get to know each other, but getting a fully remote company off the ground during a pandemic has its challenges. We're creating and implementing processes at the same time that we're dreaming the product and meeting our co-workers remotely. But also this is showing us that there are no limits, we have people in Spain and New Zealand on our team and it's been wonderful working with them.
We started Nowhere during a crisis where everyone is passing through individual challenges besides the collective traumas that we are all experiencing at this moment. There is a lot of grief, stress and anxiety all around and we're trying to always remember that so we're offering the support each one of us needs. The concept of inhabiting a virtual 3D space along with others is still new for most people, so we're learning how to best welcome people into this space. Navigating the metaverse is still just in the beginning stages and we're hoping to help set high standards for what can become a rich and creative social space.
Jeryl Brunner: Did you work with creative partners on Nowhere?
Ana Constantino: Jon Morris and Maxx Berkowitz are my co-founders. Jon who was also my partner at the Windmill Factory comes from the theater, super creative and generous, and very skilled in designing experiences. He is highly social and a natural netweaver. Maxx is a multidisciplinary designer, maker and technologist that builds immersive experiences and digital products through design, motion and emerging technology. The three of us work together very closely strategizing and developing the company together.
In the beginning we had two engineer friends who believed in our vision and helped build the first prototype of Nowhere. Currently we also have a team of fantastic engineers and 3D artists that work with us on making our vision into reality.
Jeryl Brunner: How does Nowhere work?
Ana Constantino: People are free to move around, discover hidden fun spaces, bump into friends, engage in conversations, watch live performances, talks, participate in workshops, all while feeling present with others. We believe that spaces dictate behavior, and that collective experiences are essential for the creation and nourishment of strong communities. We're creating Nowhere very carefully and with a lot of attention to details as we want to create a healthy space that inspires and deepens relationships even when people aren't physically together. We believe that presence is larger than place and with every design decision, we hope to support genuine human connection.
Jeryl Brunner: What is your vision for the experience?
Constantino: I hope that Nowhere becomes a platform where people feel inspired to play and have meaningful collective experiences. We want to create a healthy social space that allows for serendipity and opens the opportunity for people to feel genuinely present with others, even when physically apart.
Jeryl Brunner: Can you share more about partnering with artists in the Nowhere Founding Community?
Ana Constantino: We're selectively opening to creators to be able to host in Nowhere and have access to exclusive activities. People can apply to have a chance to participate at www.urnowhere.com.
Jeryl Brunner: So many people have a creative idea that they want to birth to life, but don't have the confidence or resources. What would you advise?
Ana Constantino: Dream big, then break it into smaller pieces, so you know from where to begin. Don't wait for permission or for the perfect condition to arrive. Be generous, open to collaborations, participate in a community and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.