Sunday, November 08, 2009


If I were in Europe this month, what would I be doing?

First I would go to Athens and check out the exhibition. But I would also be attending Cimatics in Brussels, of course. It's a great scene and I would have loved to accept their invitation to attend this year (especially as a follow-up to the intense experiences I had there and in Ghent last year as part of my afternoon of mini-lectures with Geert Lovink entitled Mediakunst 2.0).

What's Cimatics?
For this 7th edition of the Cimatics festival, it goes at full throttle again with today's image culture. As an audiovisual festival Cimatics puts the focus on art, media, design and music. Cimatics invites you for a mix of concerts, film-screenings, exhibitions, workshops, conferences, public interventions and parties.

Cimatics is spread out all over the city of Brussels. For 10 days and nights it will be hosted at 17 venues, both underground and above. It intends to be a citywide international festival for advanced creativity, a node where underground, pop and art become mixed in an exciting cultural mash-up.

10 days, 14 venues, more then 100 artists: Video Vortex conference, Vladislav Delay, Mika Vainio, AGF, Telcosystems, Herman Kolgen, Ryoichi Kurokawa, Johan Grimonprez, Kurt D'Haeseleer, Constant Dullaart, Lawrence Malstaf, Locus Sonus, TVestroy, Felix Luque, Max Hattler, Function, closing party at the Fuse with Donato Dozzy and many many more...
The organizers, including live A/V artist Bram Crevits whose Roots of VJing playlist on YouTube is a must see, present the festival as an experimental cultural networking space whose roots can be found in the more playful aspects of the modernist avant-garde (think of Hans Richter films or Luigi Russolo's art of noise) but with a proactive attitude toward inventing the avant-pop future. Cimatics may have started off as a festival for VJing, and soon after for live audio/visual art, but according to Bram it has now become "a celebration focusing on 'advanced creativity'."

Had I gone, I would have screened some of the Immobilité remixes and participated in the Video Vortex program with a particular focus on what the festival calls "SubVersioning." What's attractive about the concept of SubVersioning is how it indicates a philosophical mash-up of Situationist détournement and ITS software upgrading/updating but also the way live A/V performance, like so many other art forms before it (think Fluxus, happenings, underground cinema / structuralist film, etc.) have resisted i.e. subverted the commercial version of art world commodification.

Which is not to say that these live A/V experiments cannot lead to the making of artworks that take on some kind of commercial or art market value (The Light Surgeons are successfully straddling the live A/V performance, film/video/DVD, and art commission scenes and I have sold digital video and surround sound installations made with VJ software to major museums).

But commodification is not the goal. If anything, there is no goal per se for most live A/V artists. Think of it more as a passion for experimentation in applied aesthetics, social networking, nomadic wanderlust, and what can only be called (open) field research. I write about all of this in the opening "Spontaneous Theories" section of META/DATA.

For me, events like Cimatics are ongoing after-parties with after-effects that feed into the autohallucinatory framework of my variable postproduction (i.e. metamediumistic) becomings (what in the "gig world" we might call sets). The most important part of live A/V events is the live function or, if you will, life function. It's bio-social networking conducted within a technologically savvy framework. And besides, it's great fun.

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