electronic art in Vancouver

Posted by Rhizome | Sun May 25th 1997 1 a.m.

VANCOUVER, BC--Last weekend played host to the Third Annual Vancouver
Electronic Arts Festival, here in Canada's frontier town. A five day
event, the festival brought together new media artists from Canada and
around the world to share in workshops, exhibitions, performances and
lectures. Several arts spaces joined forces to produce the festival,
amoung them the Western Front (www.eciad.bc.ca/~front), Video In Studio
(www.video-in.com) and grunt gallery (vcn.bc.ca/grunt). All things told,
the show was good but a little sleepy. New media is not glamorous in
Vancouver.

Video In Studios, just up the hill on Main Street, is an art collective
focusing on video production, distribution and education. They hosted a
saturday night double bill with Tetsuo Kogawa's performance "Body
Electric or Electronic Part 1" and Ken Gregory and Shawn Chappelle's
video "An Audio visual Time Tale." Kogawa, a leading theorist and
producer of new media art from Japan, who was forcast to "surround his
body in polymorphous fields using both electricity and electronics;
waves of physical, mechanical, electric, and radio energy [filling] the
space..." in fact gave a more modest performance focusing on the body
and low-watt radio broadcasting.

Kogawa started by showing the audience the difference between the body
and the virtual world, examplified by the difference between his
physical, on-stage body and his web site (anarchy.k2.tku.ac.jp) which
was projected against the backdrop. Then, he soldered together a low
wattage radio transmitter, right there on stage. Kogawa's self described
goal was to explore the intersection between the body and the virtual
world. Consequently, his performance plotted the movement from a pure
object (his raw materials: glass, copper tape, solder, circuitry,
battery) to an electronic object (the radio transmitter).

In fact, prior to the show, Kogawa had built four similar transmitters
and planted them around the building. He tuned four hand-held radios to
the four broadcast frequencies and immediately the stage was alive with
sounds--cars on the street outside, conversation from smokers on the
back porch, the hum of dead noise. It was an interesting twist on the
themes of surveillance and simulcast.

Another jem from the festival was Ken Gregory's "Tickle." Installed in
the nice looking bathroom of Video In Studios, Tickle is an interactive
audio sculpture that resembles an electronic windchime. Hanging from a
metal frame are perhaps a dozen superballs that have been converted into
midi controllers. Putting your hand under the dangling balls, and
tickling, causes the balls to bounce around and create pseudo-music via
computer synth.

Contact the Western Front for information about upcoming events in
Vancouver: 303 East 8th Ave, Vancouver BC, V5T, 1S1. (tel) 604 876 9343,
(fax) 604 876 4099. (e) front@smartt.com.
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