VIA and EXIT festivals: a digital alchemy

Conceived as partner events, festivals VIA in Maubeuge – associated with Mons, European Capital of culture 2015 – and EXIT in Créteil put into shape with still more attention this year all the components of a digital alchemy that embraces all artistic domains from stage creation and installations to immersive cinema.

In French-speaking festivals landscape which usually arise anew from springtime, traditional first blast made by close manifestations VIA in Maubeuge and EXIT in Créteil gets this year a particular resonance. Long-term partnership between VIA Maubeuge and the city of Mons in Belgium benefits indeed from the whole media impact inherited by Hainaut locality after it has been named European Capital of culture 2015. This is a just award for a city of Mons that, in spite of its average size, has always promoted innovative artistic practices through manifestations such as VIA or City Sonics, and that particularly brings out transdisciplinary technological axes carried out for years by artistic programmes at both city’s level.

Mons 2015 :"En 2015, je suis Montois. Et toi ?"

A few days later, as a logical continuity of this shared spirit, a part of the program – set as every year by Didier Fusillier for all dance/theatre side, and Charles Carcopino for the exhibition one – will take direction of always very symbolic Maison des Arts of Créteil – a few kilometres away from Paris. A still highly-refreshing venue benefiting from its nonchalant mix of playful avant-gardism and its all-public-access-policy and that will offer within EXIT program a few complements, either oriented towards more hi-tech and futurist aspects – the Exoskeletons performances conceived by Montréal-located artist-searcher Bill Vorn, key figure of Hexagram-Concordia University, or participative video game project This Is No Game by his neighbours from Québec Projet Eva – or towards more singularly experimental dance and theatre aspects – a new invitation has been launched therefore to Dutch choreograph Jan martens and to his country fellow stage director Ivo van Hove, but one of the EXIT highlights could be the opera performance for ten female cashiers Have A Good Day by Lithuanian company Production Operomanija.

This is no game - Projet Eva from Le Studio MAC Créteil 

Two complementary events

The big specificity of VIA and EXIT, with a program at the same time dual and complementary, relies on their way to scan the whole diversity of potential artistic supports: stage experiences - but also public spaces within festive manifestations in Mons -, installations through Home Cinema exhibition, and as well augmented cinema approach (thanks to a selection of four pieces of immersive cinema to experiment freely) are then successively called in, day after day, to create a massive show of digital alchemy with immediate effervescent effect.

On the stage side – and to complete the several other venues selected to present digital art installations or friendly events (in Mons, you can find for instance mapping digital performances Citylight at U-Mons Faculty or some Fêtes Connectées (“Connected parties”) and participative food gathering International Lunch at Café Europa) -, this is of course the synergy between the two theatres of Le Manège, standing in both cities of Maubeuge and Mons, and the MAC of Créteil - all of three being genuine artistic creative laboratories - that is going to work again at full speed.

Split Flow & Intensional Particle (Création) - Hiroaki Umeda from Le Studio MAC Créteil

If, as previously said, each festival keeps its leeway in terms of content, two stage shows will share the two bills: Sophie Perez and Xavier Boussiron’s Biopigs, a theatrical extrapolation of a gym club turned into a torture chamber; and mostly the creation Intensional Particle & Split Flow of Japanese dancer/performer Hiroaki Umeda, whose radical interactions between the body virulence and superposed digital graphic projections should hit again a climax.

Home Cinema : from interactive installation to immersive cinema

On the installation side, Home Cinema theme elaborated by Charles Carcopino for VIA and EXIT stresses out a trend of new images auto-experimentation that should not be left only to future consumerist spectators, but on the contrary participate to new creative urges carried out by these new forms of cinematographic practices available for everyone. Invited artists point out this growing idea of self-mini-studios crossing cinema, video game, but also cheap electric and light components (such as LEDs) and intrusive use of cameras to build their intriguing and aesthetically weird interfaces.

Between biometric and sensorial experiences of Marnix de Nijs (15 minutes of Biometric Fame & Rectilinear Displacement), the mood variations offer a large spectre of possibilities in terms of perception. An open breach in which dive into the high-frequencies device Frequencies Light Quanta piece by Nicolas Bernier and the Soma by Guillaume Faure, along with curious generative cinema experiences introducing new kinds of cut, from repetitive loops of Delphine Doukhan and Antoine Schmitt’s Fractal Film to aquatic sequences of Emilie Brout et Maxime Marion’s Dérives, and real time narrative rewriting cut directly made from a console specially realised by Thierry Fournier (Dépli).

Resulting as a completion of this slightly provocative approach – what you can arguably feel in pieces stressing out a volunteer misuse of “stolen” images, such as Nicolas Maigret’s The Pirate Cinema and Bertrand Planes’ Blue Screens that draw their material from Peer-to-Peer platforms’ data interceptions or from CCTV hacked channels -, a part of the exhibition is dedicated to more hi-tech practices: the ones of a burgeoning immersive cinema industry that already appears, with its new tools of virtual reality such as Oculus Rift headset, as the new market of tomorrow entertainment business’ world.

BEHIND THE SCENES BLANCA LI 360 from Claire Marquet prod

Four projects are thus presented in Home Cinema, including the movie Blanca Li 360°, first artistic movie ever made for a viewing in 360°, watchable on computer, tablets, smartphone and oculus, and giving the possibility of interacting directly on the movie by changing its own viewer position at anytime. This is an unprecedented and probably exciting experience that the most introspective Cinquième Sommeil (“The Fifth Sleep”), by Balthazar Auxietre, will probably make milder. Here, possibility is offered to the spectator to have a trip in an inner environment generated in real time by its own brain by bearing one of this famous virtual headset. A Fantastic Voyage – to make the connection with Richard Fleisher movie – with some more scientific aspects that expresses perfectly the henceforth enlarged domain of transdisciplinarity explored by hybrid artistic events such as VIA et EXIT.

Laurent Catala

VIA Festival, from 12th to 25th march, Maubeuge, Mons, Jeumont,
EXIT Festival, from 26th march fo 5th of april, Créteil,







Transmediale 2018 – Face Value, a premise to Post-Transmediale?

  What are the remaining ethics in an era of Face value? How can inform