Monday, May 6, 2013

European Media Art Festival - Part 2 of 2

The exhibition for the Festival in Osnabrück mostly took place in the Kunsthalle, an art exhibition space which is in part a converted Dominican church from the 13th-15th centuries.  I didn't see anything really ground-breaking, but a number of the pieces were certainly engaging.  Nadal by Paul Destieu (France) consisted of four machines that threw tennis balls to another in a criss-cross pattern.  The arcs of the balls echoed the shape of the Gothic ceiling high above.  The work 500 by Bianca Patricia (Poland) showed a large projection of a small baby playing desultorily with a 500-Euro note (nearly $A700).  Scattered about on the floor were 50,000 1-Euro-cent coins (so 500 Euro worth).  And All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by Donna Szoke and Ricarda McDonald (Canada) was a simple but effective installation consisting of a pair of eyes on a screen that moved to follow visitors, controlled by a Microsoft Kinect.  Disconcertingly, both eyes were right eyes.  I talked to Donna about this, and the idea was to introduce some strangeness to emphasise that this is a machine.

Kyosei - Coexistence by Lea Nagano (Japan/Germany) was a 360-degree panoramic video based on a view of Tokyo that referred to the earthquake and release of radiation from the Fukushima reactor complex.  The artist was in Tokyo when this happened.  Vanished Forest by Tviga Vasilyeva and Igor Line (Russia/Finland) showed a large image of a forest.  A touch-pad allowed the visitor to select a specific tree, and then sounds recorded from that tree were played.  The forest was an old-growth forest, but has been chopped down for its timber.

The most complex was the ambitious installation The Way Things May Go by a consortium of students from several universities, led by staff members.  This consisted of 13 fairly small separate devices or installations, each of which could perform an action with at least two outcomes.  For example one device agitated ping-pong balls, some of which were yellow, until one jumped into a channel where it passed by a detector which identified it as either white or yellow.  Which colour the ball was determined which device would be activated next.  The installation was inspired by the video Der Lauf der Dinge  by Peter Fischli and David Weiss (also called The Way Things Go - it is 30 mins long - parts of it are on YouTube - check it out).  The project was to make a non-deterministic Lauf der Dinge.  I thought it didn't quite come off as an installation, as only one device was active at once.  The controlling software could have been written to allow say three actions at once.

The two that held my attention most were Versus by David Letellier (France/Germany) and Méchaniques Discursives by Yannik Jacquet and Fred Penelle (Belgium).  Versus consisted of two large black flower-like structures, consisting however of triangular and rectangular pieces,  that could change configuration via a hydraulic mechanism.  They exchanged sounds and movements across the space, and also responded to other sounds in the space.  A combination of incomprehensibility and menace, and a certain delicacy.  Méchaniques Discursives was a video projection by Jacquet onto a wall with quite a few prints (woodcuts I believe) and drawings by Penelle.  The two were designed to work together and did so very well.  The imagery was a combination of Dada and Steampunk (or perhaps Victorian electro-punk, as there were references to radio waves, and an anachronistic defibrillator). 

And there was a lot more!  The Festival was well worth the visit for me.

General view of the main space in the Kunsthalle.

 Detail of David Letellier's installation Versus.

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