Parano Rama

By focusing on points of convergence between human, scientific and technologic, 2011 EXIT festival proposed a vivid outlook of imaginary cyber-reality of tomorrow. A paranoiac view that declined in a series of interactive, immersive and performative experiences.

This year, the chosen theme of paranoia induced doubtless a step beyond in the appreciation of a multimedia art as interested in its scientific rationality as in its new expressive perspectives, underlining sketches of a cyber-reality with a William Gibson’s punk flavour, clearing differences diminishing yet between fiction and reality, and exploring possibilities of experiences testing resistance of involved public. As usual, EXIT split its approach with a mix of installations and dance/theatre performances, showing this way intense variability in the anxiety degree they want to feed with the spectators, even if extreme confusion of a live media masterpiece like well-named Feed by Kurt Hentschlager was utterly missing in such a paranoid program (probably because of some money scares).

Hybrid installations

Concerning interactive installations, it was particularly interesting to notice the focus on some specific topics, always seeded on the tables of this hybrid science/technology/reality connection. Biogenetic was on the pole position with, of course, the master Eduardo Kac and his flower Edunia, a genetically-modified petunia in which has been transplanted Brazilian artist’s DNA, but also through the Genpets, mutant beings merging toyelectronic and organics tissues made by Adam Brandejs and his society Bio-Genica. In a direction already explored by Eduardo Kac, that established a communication connection between a bird and a plant in a former installation, Frederik de Wilde and Lab[au] traduced for their part signals produced by fish and turned into lights and sounds (Eod 02). Outer space and phantasm of its conquest expressed very well into Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves’s Supernova, a tri-dimensional explosion of smoke, luminous and audio frequencies, whereas Felix Luque Sanchez’s non-identified object Chapter One unconsciously recalled the black monolith of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey. Ubiquitous controlling processes of surveillance CCTV filtered furtively from video-kinetic and panoptic sculpture Cosmos conceived by Pascal Dufaux from Québec, as well as from playful animations of Martin Le Chevalier’s Vigilance 1.0, asking the spectator to denounce observed infractions to score points. Artificial intelligence made itself conspicuous in the Boris Petrovsky’s Nixie Mixie Matrix, a communicative machinery of chaotic neon lights, and in the animal/robotic mechanics of Christian Zwanikken’s Frantic diggers. Evidently, war and all its psychological aspects was not forgotten, encouraging documentary and immersive digital battlefield of Ryoichi Kurokawa’s Ground, or supporting training or therapeutic simula-tors transposed by Harun Farocko in his Serious Games.

Fractal Dance

In terms of live performance, human bodies took over of course, notably in the frantic solos Repulsion and Holistic Style of Japanese dancer Hiroaki Umeda, fractal confrontations between radical and digital geometric projections and the visual trace of a human presence trying not being overwhelmed by this audiovisual intrusion. A fierce sensation of organic struggle and rhythmic outburst, symbolizing the paranoiac and perceptive disorder showing through overlap of human and technology, and that appeared again in

T.r.a.s.h. company’s Disordely Conduct Humanoid, or in Wayne McGregor Random Dance Company’s F.A.R (which featured live metallic and twirling dark sound landscapes of excellent electronic artist Ben Frost). Impassive actors of Bellona from New York pursued with far more triviality, in Destroyer of Cities, a questioning about society and city of tomorrow lost in a post-apocalyptic context. In an opposite way, approach was more psychological and intimist in the intricate conjugal situation directed by Dutch Ivo van Hove, a festival regular. At the end, all these obsessing and disruptive incarnations proposed by EXIT could look a bit worrying. A good point to go and appreciate the sense of humour of Niklas Roy’s My Little Piece of Privacy video installation, in which a prepared-curtain prevent people walking in the streets from watching inside his place – a wink to Michael Snow’s piece Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids)? A small chance to relax in this multimedia omen to ambient paranoïa.

LAURENT CATALA

Published in the Digitalarti Mag #6.

Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.

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