By Illa Thompson
ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban
Last few days….
23 – 30 June 2018
Intersections is an overwhelmingly enormous programme of various forms of electronic art which has been consuming the city over the past week. The main players are ISEA2018: the 24th International Symposium on Electronic Art; Digifest05 and IF Durban, who have jointly created a city-wide showcase of dozens of workshops, exhibitions, presentations, talks, events, installations, walks, festivals and activities, and a major global conference on new media art, all of which wraps up on Saturday.
Personal highlights of the week include watching learners make tiny solar powered robots; a dance piece by visually-impaired dancers wearing devices enabling them to hear their dance; meeting a bead-and-wire owl whose LED eyes leisurely blink on touch; watching a scratchy old 1925 dinosaur movie being screened in Bulwer Park to a soundtrack of French improv electronic jazz; and bare gallery disguising an exhibition which can only be seen through an iPad or VR headset.
I have been hanging out with some amazing internationals: Fred from Brazil who heads up Gambiologia – the practice of makeshift, creating something new from something old; Alex from Melbourne who is researching something about digital interface and mould;
Alex and Sara from Sydney who capture the aquatic sounds of the city for sound-art pieces; Mang from Berlin whose Digital Calligraffiti projects light words on walls; and Cy whose data transmitters are now bobbing around Durban in little buys to monitor change in sea-currents. From closer to home, Wayne from Maritzburg’s sound-scapes are hauntingly beautiful and hats off to Thobi and Lorin for creating such a beautiful evocative dance work with learners with limited to no vision.
Much of the time the technological intricacies are way beyond my understanding, but what I see is passion, skill, innovation, optimism, wisdom, tenacity, humanness intertwined with a great sense of humour; a body of art-makers who are exploring new approaches to the worlds of art, design, technology and architecture. They are modern-day pioneers; new-age Renaissance leaders and adventurers into the great digital unknown.
There is still time to catch the tail-end of Intersections and experience some of the treats on offer…
Today the Innovation Festival Durban is at the Bond Shed on the Point (29 June) and tomorrow at the KZNSA Gallery (30 June). A project of Innovate Durban: a non-profit company aimed at stimulating innovation within the Durban region. The IF Durban 2018 has been running a series of workshops / presentations and talks; and an all-day outdoor free public exhibition featuring among other things, drones, 3D printing and electronic cars.
Tonight (Friday) is PechaKucha taking place at Distillery 031 which is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each. It will host a sample of speakers from throughout the week allowing PechaKucha guests an overview highlights package of some of the presentations from the various sessions.
Intersections themed exhibitions at the KZNSA Gallery and Durban Art Gallery are open until tomorrow (Saturday). At DAG the Invisible Exhibition in the Circular Gallery comprises artworks made in virtual reality by some of South Africa’s most celebrated visual artists, viewed only through an iPad; Change Agent in Gallery 2: a massive collaborative media arts installation by Keith Armstrong from Australia via Limpopo; Unplugged is an exhibition featuring a juxtaposition of works from the DAG permanent collection; Mediated is a striking statement on political power by lecturers from UKZN’s Digital Arts department; and Curiosities features, among other works, a delicate interactive piece by Hyojin Jang from Korea inspired by the leaves of the lotus flower made with ribbons, wire and lights. There is also a mini-exhibition of workshop outcomes looking at using Zulu beadwork as a basis for writing code.
At KZNSA is Life Hacking: Gallery Take Over is a series of fun, innovative and quirky exhibits – all with a strong social consciousness message. Visitors can meet some of the Free Sunshine! little solar-panelled protest robots which have been created in public workshops; the World After Us / Server Farms uses discarded computer hardware as a basis for up-cycled garden installations; Gambiologia projects which is the Brazilian practice of makeshift, the art of resorting to improvisation in order to repair what doesn’t work or to create what you need with what you have at your disposal; African style robots coming out of workshops with wire and bead workers led by Ralph Borland and participatory public interventions designed to re-imagine public space in Durban presented by PS2 – a group of German media artists.
Finally Interpret Durban (#ID9) in the Durban City Hall tomorrow night (Saturday 30) to showcase Durban’s vast creative talent. There will be about a dozen installations displaying some of the best of the ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban projects. The Durban City Hall will become a hive of funky electronic art exhibitions, adding to the programme a reader’s digest version of all the ISEA2018 happenings that took Durban by storm in the weeklong festival. #ID9 will be the closing event of the week.
To find out more:
Facebook: @ISEA2018Durban
Instagram: @isea_intersections
The detailed programme can be found on the ISEA2018 website.