This Old House

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In the tradition of massive industrial spaces transforming into powerhouse exhibition venues for contemporary art, Ayers Island in Orono, Maine has taken a couple cues. However, so far, said transformation has skipped much of the white-boxing and preserved the majority of the 360,000 square foot former textile factory in all its dilapidated glory. These halls have been reanimated by the first annual Ayers Island Contemporary Arts Festival: 'No Borders', curated by the University of Maine's Owen Smith. Antithetically, the location and history of Franco-Yankee Orono is situated relatively close to the Canadian border, perhaps encouraging the participation of new media students from Montreal, as well as London and Paris. Haunting installations like The Richards' 'Almost', a Xmas-light reindeer nodding from some hundred feet into the creaky depths of the factory, prime the space for the eerie transmissions of more technologically driven projects, like Margaretha Haughwout's .d.a.t.a.l.o.v.e.r., a beautiful game that mediates the playacted interactions of two entered 'lovers' who receive fictional identities from the computer, to reconcile face to face. The festival's closing festivities are Saturday, September 25th from 12 noon to 6 PM. Afterwards, we'll wait for next year, which will surely aid in confirming Orono as a much needed, spacious offline hub for new media bordered within the ever resource-friendly United States. - Kevin McGarry