Live arts correspondent Bella Todd on the hottest happenings in the global cultural calendar, this week with a feast of digital art from Dundee to Hong Kong...
The Main Event: NEoN Digital Arts Festival
Back in February, Glaswegian psychedelicists The Phantom Band released a video that could only be described as ‘something else’. Shot by artist Rachel Maclean using chroma key (greenscreen) and a borrowed HD camera for the single Everybody Knows It’s True, it cast the six band members as colourful living elements in a bizarre, Terry Gilliam-style machine (and, happily, required them to wear facepaint and silly tights).
Her video may have been part inspired by Bosch’s trippy Middle Ages masterpiece, The Garden Of Earthly Delights. But as an artwork itself, it couldn’t have existed before the advent of the computer. And that’s the common thread shared by all the work being screened, installed, performed or dee-jayed this week as part of the NEoN Digital Arts Festival, a celebration of the interaction between art and technology taking place in the Scottish city of Dundee.
There are now more digital arts festivals around the world than there are components in a very big computer but NEoN is low on the jargon, high on the inclusivity and full of interesting events for music fans in particular.
Alongside Maclean’s video there are screenings of Keep The Faith, Dylan Drummond’s work-in-progress documentary about the Northern Soul scene, and Inni, the second live film from Icelandic’s masters of the ethereal, Sigur Ros. Meanwhile there’ll be a new interactive piece from Franz Ferdinand’s tour artist Jaygo Bloom, whose gaming-inspired projects take impetus from Eighties arcade icons such as Pong and Asteroids as well as online ‘home music tutorials’. The exact nature of the new piece is a secret, but promisingly it’s a collaboration with Dundee’s digital toy factory Denki.
On the live music and sound-art front, there are performances from dance-pop sampling pioneers Utah Saints [http://www.utahsaints.com/], player of domestic objects John Cromar (aka Noma) and fellow found-object fanatic Tim Vincent Smith. Artist Tom DeMajo [http://tomdemajo.com/] will be taking such sonic manipulation to the extreme by turning one of the city’s oldest buildings, the Old Steeple church, into a giant resonator. And when we say there are some stars on the bill, we mean it literally – Dundee’s Planetarium will be using something called ‘stellar seismology’ to convert electromagnetic waves into sound ones, enabling us to listen to the music of the stars. Cosmic, man.
Best Of The Rest
- Hong Kong’s Microwave International New Media Arts Festival is now underway until November 26, with ‘alchemy’ as this year’s theme. Interactive artworks and work forged by robotic intelligence (by which we don’t mean Simon Cowell) is the order of the day, with live graffing having been a big draw in previous outings – in 2007 Brooklyn’s Graffiti Research Lab and local street artist MC Yan created a record-breaking 1,200 metre tag across Victoria Harbour.
- Based on the Danish film and performed with Romanian surtitles by Bucharest’s Nottara Theatre, Festen, which opens at The Barbican’s Pit theatre in London this week, should be international theatre of the most compelling order. Perhaps unsurprisingly given its emphasis on story and acting over special effects, the first film to emerge from the Dogme 95 movement (which follows the Klingenfeld-Hansen family as they gather for the head of the household’s 60th birthday) tends to survive its sporadic transitions to the stage with tension and chill factor firmly in tact.