Internationally renowned OFFF festival convenes in Paris, France, from today until the 26th at La Grande Halle De La Villette. Born from art collective/art agency Inofffensive, the festival stakes its claim as being the “vanguard of the avant-garde” for digital culture, with a simple mission - to earn “some money by doing commercial works and then spending it on crazy, commercially suicidal art projects.” In keeping this ethos, speakers/performers range: from French artist Patrick Jean, to street art bloggers Wooster Collective to former New York Times art director Steven Heller.
Befittingly, in its tenth year of inception, OFFF looks to reflect on the zeitgeist of nostalgia. Titling this year’s show “Nostalgia for a Past Future”, the festival hits upon a key problem for any designer that John Berger lays out in Ways of Seeing: the promise of the future sold by capitalizing on the longing for the past. Yet, heightened by the speed with which trend cycles move (and even more so with the speed of digital culture), for OFFF this issue is circumvented when we forgo trying to recreate narratives of the past and approach nostalgia as a tool for communication.
So, what can we expect?
In the Processing Pixels workshop, Daniel Shiffman looks to transform the treatment of pixels by reconfiguring the relationship between the coded information and its pixelated representation.
Patrick Jean will give a talk about his work in the Openroom. Inspired by the aesthetic of late 80s/early 90s video games, Jean has made a name for himself across the Internet with the video “PIXELS”.
Bleep Labs have come to the fore with its Thingamaboop instrument. Playful from inception, Thingmaboop, embedded with Arduino programming capabilities, is modulated by movement, light sensing LEDs, and is amenable to most synthesizers. In addition to a demonstration ...
Montreal in June is an explosion of festivals. MUTEK, the annual festival of “digital creativity and electronic music,” is one of the most intriguing. The focus of the festival, now in its eleventh year, is on live experimental electronic music. This year's MUTEK sported an impressive roster -- electronic supergroups like Matmos and Mouse on Mars; cutting-edge UK dubstep producers such as Ikonika; and notable German DJs like Dixon, Henrik Schwarz, and DJ Koze.
One of the most anticipated live sets at MUTEK was a rare performance by the trailblazing British group Nurse with Wound. Nurse with Wound is a difficult act to pin down. The band, a revolving cast of characters helmed by the shadowy Steven Stapleton, has been in existence, in some form or another, since 1978. Some call Nurse with Wound "industrial music," but that's a bit of a misnomer. The band does bear some similarities with crusading British bands like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, and Current 93, but their music -- disorienting sound collages, ambient drones, tape edits, noise -- is defiantly anti-genre. Perhaps a better way to describe Nurse with Wound is through their artistic inspirations -- Dada sound poetry and French musique concrète, Futurist rhetoric and Surrealist cinema. The band's third album, released in 1980, was titled "Merzbild Schwet," a reference to Kurt Schwitters and his "Merz" philosophy and series of works; Side One was titled "Futurismo"; Side Two was titled "Dada." (Interestingly, many other musicians of the time were referencing Kurt Schwitters -- Faust, Brian Eno, and later the Japanese noise artist Merzbow -- the "Merzbau" being one of Schwitters' most famous works.)
Nurse with Wound played a haunting set in a dark auditorium against a sinister black-and-white film backdrop. Ambient drones were punctuated with harsh, sudden crashes -- reminiscent of ...
Golden Shield Music is a generative composition for eight audio channels. [...] The work is inspired by the Golden Shield Project, sometimes referred to as the 'Great Firewall of China'. [...] Golden Shield Music collects the twelve website’s IP that are most screened by the Golden Shield. Therefore IP numbers are listed in a text file which feeds an automated MIDI polyphonic synthesizer. The latter translates each IP in a single note formed by 4 voices with a specific velocity. Resulting notes are ordered by the amount of pages the Golden Shield obscured for each IP address: the website’s IP obtaining the highest page result on Google.com becomes the first note of the score and the others follow in decreasing order. Data organizes the musical notation, establishing an abstract relationship between Internet information and musical algorithms which sounds harmonious and "handcrafted".
When R&B; singer Ginuwine's jam Pony came out in 1996, it became the classic soundtrack to grinding, and its (admittedly, hilarious) refrain "ride it, my pony" a fixture in American pop culture. More recently, A.Mart from Hamburger Eyes launched "Dancing Alone to Pony" -- a tumblr blog compiling solo videos of people dancing to the track. The site has encapsulated this micro-meme. Here are a few of the highlights, visit Dancing Alone to Pony for more.