Past to Present

In 2000, electronic musician Kim Cascone proclaimed the emergence of a discernable "post-digital" genre, using the example of 'glitch music,' through which artists crafted "deconstructive audio and visual techniques" to test the limits and possibilities of their software. Cascone points to this tendency as the harbinger of a conceptual shift in art practice, in which "...the medium is no longer the message...specific tools themselves have become the message". Over the past few years, "post-digital" disassembly has run parallel to a more widespread interest in dismantling and refiguring analog technologies. Many of the artists selected for this year's Netmage, an international electronic arts festival held in the castle Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna, Italy, reflect this direction. The live audio and visual performances slated for the three-day event, which kicked off yesterday, demonstrate a variety of methods by which artists work with and through analog hardware. TONEWHEELS, by sound artist Derek Holzer and media artist Sara Kolster, is inspired by the peculiar electronic music contraptions of the early 20th Century. Revolving see-through tonewheels form the locus of the performance, whose unwieldy movement across the lens of an overhead projector activates sound and visuals through light sensitive circuitry. The open exposure of the technology used in TONEWHEELS demystifies its inter-workings, revealing how rudimentary most systems are. Media artist Luka Dekleva, sound artist Miha Ciglar and musician Luka Princic draw on analog video feedback techniques in FeedForward Cinema, a project in which the trio perform distortion generated by a feedback loop between two video devices. Similarly, audio/visual group Demons (Nate Young, Steve Kenney, Alivia Zilich) produce stark, mind-bending analog video feedback alongside bleak, resonating soundscapes eminating from damaged vintage synthesizers. The overall jarring effect recalls 1960s psychedelia, yet is stripped of its joyful exuberance and deeply cognizant of the anger and dissonance of the Bush era. One of the pioneers of live psychedelic visuals, Joshua White, will also be present at the festival. Once a staple at the late sixties New York rock venue the Fillmore East, White will perform his multimedia light show during a special set by the legendary psychedelic electronic group the Silver Apples. The band, in its current formation, consists of member Simeon Coxe III solo on his one-of-a-kind homemade synthesizer "the Simeon". The festival proposes to present the "latest trends in live media," and given the emphasis on older technologies, this orientation is clearly invested in the past. - Ceci Moss

Image: Derek Holzer and Sara Kolster, TONEWHEELS