From 22.03. – 23.03 we were invited to perform with our drum robot installation MR-808 at the B-Seite Festival 2013 in Mannheim, a mid-scale festival for VJ Culture. I have to confess that I localized the VJ-culture so far in a non-arts, clubby context as an accessory part to a DJ. I was convinced of the opposite.
The non-commercial festival features in its 6th edition different kinds of visual arts, with a focus on VJ-culture, but also computer-Art, interactive installations and AV-Performances.
The festival’s main spot is the Zeitraumexit in Mannheim just in front of the Pop Akademie. The Festival timetable consists of a loose combination of showcases, installations, workshops and parties, and has a lot of friendly details like the sleazy and cosy hotel in 70th style (including the smoking desk lady or the ashtreys in every room).
In the following I’ll grab some of the events I saw, that interested me the most.
The most impressing visuals we saw were presented at a small talk by Franz Aumüller, a visual artist who worked together with Brian Eno and Kraftwerk. The talk “Der Absolute Film – the roots of visual music” illuminated the works of Hans and Oskar Fischinger both visual artists who worked in the early 20s.
The talk and the film from Fischinger most impressively dealed with the first attempts of music visualization. For me theses were wonderful and enlightning visualizations, and I think I know why: the visuals were handcrafted by the Fischingers without any digital aid. The structures consisted of cutout papers, foils, wax shot with an experimental setup on very expensive film.
Because of the sheer workload of creating a 5 minute film by hand – frame by frame, in colour – the structure and “plot” of the sound visualization is crystal clear, perfectly synchronized and reduced to the absolute minimum. Once again, a reduction of given tools and a reduced availability of processes has led to a highly creative piece of art. Side note: This was one of the reasons why I switched from an all-round sound tools like Ableton to a drum machine that can only play 11 sounds.
A very classic (to me) DJ / VJ performance was held by “Siggy has Ardeur” and the VJs from Born Digital at early saturdays evening. Laptop artist and singer of the band “My baby wants to eat your pussy” (!) Ziggy debuted with this new Ambient-Elektro-Dub solo Projec . The visuals on four full walls of the Zeitraumexit’s main presentation room fitted were wisely chosen both technically and from contents and made the performance to one of the best AV-Performances (for me).
The B-Seite does not only feature classic VJ-Artists but also AV Performances and installations in general (like mine).
The Robot installation “Vincent & Emily” by Carolin Liebl & Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler consist of two robots which can interact with each other, reflecting human interaction and “dialog” in a reduced and aesthetic way. I especially like the variation of the robot movements from a Delta robot, and the swinging, swirling and sweeping of the robots when they interact.
Another very aesthetic piece came from Aaron Sherwood & Mike Allison, “Firework”: a huge stretched sheet of fabric which takes the hand (or body) gestures when touched and stretched and transforms them into visuals and sound. Here the haptics of the used spandex-material were a popular hand-catcher. Hands on and body contact!
A very popular event of the festival was the A/V Performance “beyond time and space” in the Trinitatiskirche Mannheim with Fried Dähn & Thomas Maos playing cello, guitar and electronics and Kurt Theinert “playing” the visuals on a visual piano.
The ex-church was very crowded when the lights went off at 9pm and the walls of the huge church started to fill with projected lines and objects, striding across the room, synchronized to the ambient-noise-melange played on guitar, E-cello and computer. Impressing, but I had to leave after 30 minutes.
We only participated the last two days of the 7-day festival, but I comprehended some basic structures of sound-picture interplay which might sound trivial: If the synchronizing of visual and sonic stimuli is done well in matters of content (music and pictures) and technically it can really lead to a deeper understanding of the both parts.
After a eight hour ride we reached Dresden on Sunday evening. Thanks for this wonderful festival and the lovely organization!