Toys in Bend Land

How many festivals ask their patrons to 'get bent'? The BENT FEST has been doing so for four years and later this month it will begin snaking its way across the country, from New York to Minneapolis, to Los Angeles. BENT is a celebration of circuit bending and those 'who not only push the [genre] forward but also are on the cutting edge of the contemporary music and art scenes.' Circuit-bending is a time-honored tradition. Its name comes from the practice of redirecting electrical currents within a circuit, the path through which power moves from Point A to Point B. In the era of battery-operated toys, circuit bending often begins at home with the hacking of walkie talkies and similar devices. In the case of the artists and musicians highlighted at BENT, these DIY skills matured into those needed to fashion one's own instruments, create sensor-laden installations, and propose deeper meditations on the idea of taking power into one's own hands. The series is produced by NYC venue, The Tank, and the east coast episode of the festival begins April 27 at Eyebeam, where visitors can see installations and audio/visual performances by over two dozen artists, in addition to participating in circuit-bending workshops. The sharing of toys is encouraged! - Antje Wetzel