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Artistic practices that are too often neglected by museums naturally make their own paths, for which festivals are essential components. There are at least a dozen dedicated to new media just within the Île-de-France region. This is a return to the year in festivals including the latest editions of Art Outsiders, Visionsonic, Atopic, Exit, Némo, Vision'R, Bains Numériques and Mal aux Pixels.
The back-to-school of the festival scene has taken place in September for the past twelve years or so with ‘Art Outsiders’ at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. The exhibition for the 2009 edition, which was placed in the hands of Jean-Luc Soret, co-founder of the event and Annick Bureaud, art theorist, brought together proposals that evoke an "art in extreme environments". A rose was exhibited that had been subjected for a few hours to a Martian atmosphere re-created in a laboratory by the artists and co-founders of C-Lab, Howard Boland and Laura Cinti. The temperature was lowered to -60°, the atmospheric pressure was greatly reduced while the quantities of car-bon dioxide were greatly increased. The UV rays of course were also intense as there is nothing to filter or tone them down. So the flower wilted prematurely in its steel cylinder, which adds a scientific element to this artistic performance. It is a desperate act of exaggerated romanticism to offer a flower to a planet that has none, other than in science fiction books and films whose authors are obsessed by this "(un)inhabitable" red planet.
In October 2009, one needed to go to the Centre Rébérioux in Créteil in order to attend the Visionsonic Festival. Its founder and artistic director, Yroyto, an artist himself, offered several audiovisual performances, including that of the members of the Berlin collective ‘Transforma’. They have returned to the origins of video art by filming workshop performances. But the sequences that are filmed beforehand are edited before sound is added and then screened in real-time. The relationship between the sound and the image is inevitably the focus but it is Transforma’s universe that is rather odd. It is a world of darkness in which anonymity is ‘de rigueur’ and made of steel and glass objects of all kinds that are gradually revealed through neon light. It is a universe that is astonishingly close to that of Yroyto’s who often also manipulates objects and lights in real-time during his performances. From this encounter, a collaboration between the members of the Berlin collective and Yroyto was born, who then conceived a strange performance called Asynthone, during which they produced "little audiovisual experiences" of protracted suspense.
The highlight of the first Atopic Festival, initiated by Margherita Balzerani and dedicated, among other things, to ‘Machinimas’, took place at the Géode in November 2009. Streamed on the Internet, the ‘Machinimas’ are short animation films made with the help of 3D engines from video games. Screened as an international preview, the film is the first full-length feature of the history of Machinima. Entitled VolaVola, it was made by Bernardo Carboni in Second Life. The creation of MySpace and Facebook pages greatly facilitated the production of this film "shot" in only six months. The actors, located in various places around the world, find themselves within virtual sets to control their avatars. This eliminates the exorbitant production costs of black production trucks and white catering tents. As for the film, it’s a slice of life of pretty much ordinary people. The aesthetic of Second Life is quickly forgotten to be replaced by finding out about and assessing them. The voices that animate the avatars, whose at times "strange" gestures we also forget, as controlling 3D characters in Second Life is rather chancy, are those of real actors. Hollywood has nothing on the trailer, which can be seen on ‘YouTube’.
Digital art festivals take a midwinter break and generally start up again in March with Exit, at the Maison des Arts of Créteil. For this 2010 edition, Charles Carcopino brought together twenty or so works under the theme "Dancing Machine". The artist Grégory Chatonsky, who spends his time between Montreal and Paris, presented a video installation there entitled Dance With US, dating from 2008, where we can see Fred Astaire. The fluidity of his movements are programmed to show the fluctuations of the Nasdaq. The video player for the video, which comes from the 1937 film Shall We Dance where the dancer is confronted with the throbbing of a powerful steam engine, is controlled via the Internet by the values of the American stock exchange in real-time. Consequently, Fred Astaire’s movements also evolve based on their variations. The greater they are, the more the dancer agitates, in the image of crisis-driven hedge fund investors who do not like a stable economy very much, which is synonymous with boredom and sluggishness, whereas a crisis and its fluctuations can represent significant gains.
The Nemo Festival took place at the ‘Centquatre’ in April 2010. Cecile Babiole, accompanied by Vincent Goudard, gave their performance Donjon in room 400, which was also presented a few days later at the ‘Cube’ in Issy-les-Moulineaux. The two performers face down the projection, controlling the sound and the images from their interfaces whose aesthetics recall the arcade terminals of the 1980’s. A multitude of 3D objects, collected beforehand on the Internet, are literally martyred by the two masters of ceremony. Coming from the world of computers, from Hifi or mechanical sports, these same 3D objects in mesh mode, are comprised of but a few polygons. One inevitably thinks of the American film Tron directed by Steven Lisberger, while Cécile Babiole states: "I am a girl of the 1980’s". Scenes follow one upon the other but the objects continue to scat-ter into parts that seem to partially free themselves from a transitory whole during the time of their inexorable deconstruction.
The fifth edition of the Vision’R Festival of VJing took place in various loca-tions around Paris last May while the Ars Longa Gallery, the partner of the event, presented the work of Flavien Théry. At the entrance to the exhibition, a kind of window comprised of LCD screens filters the light. Entitled Des Nouvelles du Jour, it is connected to the Internet and the coloured patches allow one to make out fragments of the ‘real’, which are nothing other than news flashes; information that in fact, modifies our perception of the world. And then the-re is another LCD screen that has been "prepared" by the artist himself and called La Part de l’Ombre (N °4) that gives off a white light that Flavien Théry reminds us "contains all the colours unto itself, and therefore, all potential images". But it is on the floor that one must look to discover other patches of colour because it is there that ordinary rays have been absorbed in order to reflect what scientists describe as "extraordinary" rays; at times science attains pure poetry.
In June 2010, it was the Centre des Arts turn to take over the city of Enghien-les-Bains for the fifth edition of the Bains Numériques Festival. Like every year, the event brings together installations, performances and conferences. This year, it was augmented by a Digital Village where David Guez presented the last part of his series 2067 Telecom, on the ‘Digitalarti’ stand. The previous item of the series, Email 2067, made it possible to send an email to the future to someone who receives the message informing them that the network will withhold their mail until the date chosen by the sender. As for the radio modified by the artist and presented by the edge of Lake Enghien, it allows one to hear sounds coming from the past because the line of frequency for Radio 2067 has been replaced with a temporal line allowing one to hear old broadcasts, music, news and historical speeches. So it is with impatience that we await the next installation in the series 2067 Telecom, as Telephone 2067 will enable us to place voice messages, again in the future, on telecommunications networks.
Mal au Pixel
Again in June, we return to the Ars Longa Gallery because it was also a partner in the Mal au Pixel Festival with its exhibition "Circle Makers". There was a sonic installation made by Gaël Angelis at the entrance to this exhibition. The five sculptures that compose Voices looked like phonographs and their records were made of scratch cards. So the needles engraved the sounds they also interpreted. It is the repetition of these sound loops that accord them a certain musicality. The five instruments turn at the same speed of approximately 33 revolutions per minute. So what is being played in a moment of ephemeral archival storage is also the most repetitive and one sees, through the circular white tracks, what one is hearing. The incessant repetition of audio and visual loops somewhat modify our conscious states at a time when all music, or almost all, is dematerialised.
WRITTEN BY DOMINIQUE MOULON FOR IMAGES MAGAZINE AND TRANSLATED BY GEOFFREY FINCH FOR DIGITALARTI.COM
Published in the Digitalarti Mag #4.
Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.
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