BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN is readying for an explosion of electronic art as part of the varied and colourful programme planned for ISEA2018 – the 24th International Symposium on Electronic Art, which will be an attraction in the city from tomorrow, June 23, until June 30.
The event intends to create a city-wide showcase of dozens of exhibitions, events, installations, walks, festivals and activities, and a major global conference on new media art, according to a spokesman.,
“ISEA2018 is a festival in two parts: an academic symposium at Durban’s DUT City Campus (June 25 to 27 June) comprising peer-reviewed papers, panels and keynote presentations for registered delegates travelling from around the world; and then the dozens of events on the cultural programme (June 23 to 30) and public workshops (until June 24 ).”
Partner venues are DUT City Campus; KZNSA Gallery; Durban Art Gallery; Denis Hurley Centre; Emmanuel Cathedral; BAT Centre; Bond Shed; Green Hub; Warwick Junction; Treasure Island; uShaka Marine World; K-Cap; Bulwer Park and Durban City Hall.
Most events are open to the public, are family-friendly and free of charge, the spokesman adds.
The cultural programme opens on the afternoon of Monday, June 25, at Durban’s BAT Centre on the Victoria Embankment. Among the projects scheduled to take over the centre are culture walks exploring the stories of the harbour, sound installations along Festival Island and surrounds; and artists from Benin in West Africa sharing the “Wakpon” app which brings art to the masses by allowing anyone with access to a smart-phone or tablet to enjoy a guided exhibition tour.
Also on offer will be a short film festival looking at the power of technology, sampling and repurposing in modern story-telling, and a number of performances and artist talks.
Monday also sees various exhibitions opening at Durban Art Gallery, including the Invisible Exhibition in the Circular Gallery, which comprises artworks made in virtual reality by some of South Africa’s most celebrated visual artists, viewed only through an iPad. Gallery 1 will host Change Agent – a massive collaborative media arts installation by Keith Armstrong from Australia, via Limpopo; and an exhibition featuring an interesting juxtaposition of works from the DAG permanent collection.
Also look at the gallery for Mediated, a striking statement on political power by lecturers from UKZN’s Digital Arts department; and Curiosities, featuring, 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.
“A multi-genre, multi-media performance project runs on Tuesday in the Moth Hall in Old Fort Road: eSkIN 4 the visually impaired. Under the direction of Dr Jill Scott, the project showcases wearable technology that allows visually impaired performers and choreographers to express themselves through movement and sound and in so doing, enabling them to communicate with sighted people,” says the spokesman.
“Seven visually impaired students from the Lincoln Mason School in Umlazi will work with Durban choreographers/dancers Lorin Sookool and Thobi Maphanga to create a dance piece which explores this technology.”
Tuesday has a focus at Glenwood’s KZNSA Gallery and surrounds with the “Life Hacking gallery take over” project of fun, innovative and quirky exhibits – all with a strong social consciousness message. The public opening is at 7pm and visitors can meet some of the “Free Sunshine!” little. solar-panelled protest robots created in public workshops.
Also on show are the World After Us / Server Farms which uses discarded computer hardware as a basis for up-cycled garden installations; and some “Gambiologia” projects – which is the Brazilian practise of makeshift, the art of resorting to improvisation to repair what doesn’t work or to create what you need with what you have at your disposal.
“Ozma – the Lost World” is a fab, French, electronic-jazz band which will be performing at the KZNSA exhibition opening on Tuesday evening – being inspired by a grainy, old, black-and-white, silent film about dinosaurs which will be showing while the band performs. If the weather is good, the gallery takeover will spill out into adjoining Bulwer Park,” says the spokesman.
Wednesday sees ISEA2018 move to Durban’s Denis Hurley Centre with a full day’s programme. Of special interest is a talk, Africa in Space – imagining the future and considering Zambians’ involvement in the space race .Of note, too is Waiting for a Revolution – an interactive installation with a portable cardboard voting booth; and a sound installation highlighting citizens of Durban’s sonic memories.
There will be a culture walk exploring the important sites around the DHC in the inner city with activations along the way. Following on from the great successes recently of concerts in Emmanuel Cathedral, there will be building projections, video mapping and performances in honour of ISEA.
The format of ISEA changes on Thursday, June 28, and Friday, June 29 – with conference delegates having morning presentations in the Bond Shed on Point followed by breakaway groups and themed sessions.
The public component of Thursday takes visitors to uShaka Marine World from 4pm with a series of water-based and ecology-themed projects including “Slipstream”, which is an under-water sound installation inside one of the uShaka pools. Also, there will be a beach installation involving banks of TVs, sand sculptures and video installations.
uShaka is also the site for an interesting project – Nonument is rooted in a protest installation from Detroit, about the destruction of a public fountain which was demolished despite a public uproar. The artists created an app which explores the architecture, site and location of where the fountain used to be, pushing the boundaries of architecture, history and virtual reality.
There are two projects operating from uShaka which have a strong water-based research component, the results of which have been used as the basis for art.
Iconic, internationally-respected science journal, Leonardo, will have its 50th birthday celebrations as part of the evening’s programme.
Friday evening takes ISEA to Durban’s Station Drive for a series of events celebrating unlikely bedfellows: arts, science, beer and spices. It will be an evening of performances, projection and installations.
The rousing, unifying closing event of the ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban season, on Saturday night, will be Interpret Durban (ID9) at the Durban City Hall – inside and outside the whole building from 6pm.
The space will be re-imagined by a team of artists from all over the world – using the spaces in an unusual way, and displaying art in various forms throughout the building. The centrepiece will be the main hall which will become a dance-floor for the evening.
Fringe events over the festival can be found at Green Hub; K-Cap at KwaMashu; the English market and various other satellite venues.
Local ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban partners are Durban University of Technology’s Faculty of Arts and Design, Innovate Durban, eThekwini Municipality, Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau and The Trinity Session.
ISEA symposia are co-ordinated by ISEA International. Founded in the Netherlands in 1990, ISEA International (formerly Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts) is an international non-profit organisation fostering inter-disciplinary academic discourse and exchange among culturally diverse organisations and individuals working with art, science and technology. ISEA International headquarters is supported by the University of Brighton (UK).