How to Visualize Sound: Open Source Art Festival 2015

Ahead of The Open Source Art festival 2015, which starts this week, we spoke to the organizers about open source ethos and the different projects that will be presented in Sopot for this 5th edition.

The Open Source Art Festival started in 2011 with the idea of displaying projects created by open source softwares. This year’s edition will mainly consist performances as collaborations between AV artists and composers based on this years theme of “SYNC”. From September 11, for three days, Polish and international artists such as Michel Pelusio, Lumisokea, Schnitt, Alex Augier, and Herman Kolgen will showcase their works in the city of Sopot on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland.

So this is the 5th Open Source Art Festival, can you tell me a few words about the previous ones, how the project all started and how you came to choose the theme of “sync” for 2015?

We were asked to curate a new event in Sopot and had the idea to present projects mainly based on open source softwares. The second edition of the OSA festival was about field recordings, during the three days we presented musical projects, installations and videos such as Outliers directed by Deru. The third edition was meant as a sort of TEST for our sensitivity to sound and image. It was the perfect excuse to present Ryoji Ikeda's project - a master of sharp and absolute sounds - and INJECT by Herman Kolgen, which shows the limits of human endurance in an unnatural environment.

Herman Kolgen -INJECT (PREVIEW) from MUTEK

Last year the theme was “coldness and darkness” so we invited artists directly involved visually or audibly on these issues. Eric Holm, who recorded an album in the North Pole. Robert Curgenven and Marcus Filestrom who created a cutting-edge audiovisual show in St. John Church. This year we want to see the sound, which is why the theme is synchronization. Every year we explore a thee related directly to electronic music and we select artists and projects with this new topic in mind.

It is interesting that you chose to center the festival around this problematic. What kind of context for electronic music, what kind of context for visual performances? These are questions that often arise and that I am guessing you are trying to answer. How did you curate this line up?

Ideas for the line up come to us during trips to other European festivals, while discovering artists through recommendations or commands from the people in the music industry. During the next edition of the OSA Festival we’re presenting mainly artists that we listen to at home or in the car on the way to work. These are artists who inspire us and who have not played in Poland yet. The issues around which the subject oscillates are always a combination of music and technology. The open source software is an additional aspect of linking the program in a full and complete unit.

OSA 2015_intro_01 from Kolonia Artystów 

Why do you think open source is important?

Open source software is accessible to everybody, it has in an educational and creative dimension which is close to our ideas, ideas linked to the DIY movement. It is a counterpoint to commercial software and the capitalist approach of large corporations. If we want to educate an active audience of contemporary art and music,we should take care of wide access to education. Media and free software make this possible. Our concept is based on openness - including openness to art and the freedom of creation.

Do you feel you have a mission to educate people about it? That the end result is not always the most important, that the means and how you get there matters too?

On a daily basis we run a video gallery focused about video art and experimental music. Throughout the year, we run music projects and exhibitions which serves as a base to teach and accustom people to the experience of challenging music . Thanks to this, once a year - during the festival OSA - artists can meet with a very attentive audience, this is a real feast for both sides, and at the same time an excellent platform for meeting.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Future Media Arts Exchange project?

The FMAE is a new project which is part of the OSA festival. It is the exchange of ideas and concepts during workshops and meetings, which are based on open source software. Last year we had Glitch Art workshops led by Wojciech Morawski, and at the same time were happening Sound Postcards meeting led by artists from the Bureau of Sound in Katowice.

This year there has been collaboration between an artist Michela Pelusio from Berlin and Gdansk composer Adam Frankiewicz. You will be able to see and hear the result of this cooperation during the first and second day of the OSA festival.

Poland seems to be extremely active nowadays with more and more art festivals happening there. How does the audience here answer to experimental events such as OSA?

The audience is patient and gives us a high level of trust. Our audience is expanding each year, we are very glad of that. There are more people who follow new sounds and videos, people that are not satisfied with what is presented in the huge festivals and who enjoy the intimacy and uniqueness of small climatic events such as the OSA Festival.

You are supported by the city of Sopot, can you tell us about this partnership and how it happened.

The festival takes place in a modern art gallery in Sopot. Sopot as a city is very touristic due to its location by the sea, but a lot of artists and musicians live here and create. Thanks to this, it is very much easier to talk with officials and apply for funding for such a niche project that is the OSA Festival.

Open Source Art Festival
Sopot, Poland
September 11-13, 2015

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HERMAN KOLGEN_SEISMIK_preview 01 from Herman Kolgen 

Lumisokea audiovisual liveset teaser from Yannick Jacquet (Legoman) 

Outliers, Vol. I: Iceland from