Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

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San Jose, California, is an interesting place. Home to a seriously diverse range of people and subcultures, it's best known as the epicenter of Silicon Valley and, as such, has seen a number facelifts with the waxing and waning of the "information economy." But no event changes the look of San Jose quite like 01SJ. On June 4-8, Zero1 will present their second biennial festival, the first of which coincided with the 2006 ISEA festival. Five days may not sound like a long time period, but a quick perusal of the festival's lineup will reveal the extent to which the performances, exhibitions, public installations, screenings, happenings, discussions, and other see-it-to-believe it events will overhaul not only the city's art venues and alternative spaces, but especially its mainstream pavilions, parks, and platforms. The suits won't know what hit them! The team behind 01SJ includes some of the most longstanding champions of new media art and their selections for this year's programs push the envelope and keep a very open mind as to what constitutes new media and where the field is headed. If you're anywhere near the West Coast, consider hotfooting it to this hotbed of creativity. - Marisa Olson


Image: Camille Utterback, Abundance, 2007

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Editor's Note: Check Rhizome's blog later this week for daily reports from the 01SJ Festival by curator Michael Connor.

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AV Festival 08

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The sixth annual installment of AV Festival, the UK's largest international festival of electronic arts, explores the theme of broadcast in the work of a handful of sound artists, filmmakers and musicians. As color television this year celebrates its 80th anniversary, and China rings in fifty years of television services, broadcasting has clearly passed its period of technological novelty, while nonetheless remaining a fundamental conduit for many of the electronic arts. Departing from this assumption, the festival's program divides time between seminal moments in the history of broadcasting and contemporary practices that endeavor to push its communicative properties. Teesside actor Mark Benton, for example, will helm a re-enactment of Orson Welles' infamous 1938 War of the Worlds recording. The original, broadcast in the run-up to World War II, elicited mass-confusion and paranoia in its listeners, with many mistaking H.G. Wells' fictional account of an alien invasion for an actual Nazi invasion. The populous' susceptibility to the content of radio broadcasting may have changed in the seventy years since, but its sensitivity to globalized terror certainly has not. Among the contemporary projects will be Whispering in the Leaves, a sixteen-speaker installation by acclaimed sound technician and Cabaret Voltaire founding member Chris Watson. Appropriately housed in Sunderland's Winter Gardens, Watson's piece comprises recordings of a Costa Rican rainforest: a "dawn and dusk choruses of a myriad [sic] voices," he describes, "mostly unseen, but heard far and wide through the dense dark greens of the tree canopy." Watson's work mimics the jungle's elision of visibility, offering instead a soundscape so rich with affective resonances as to practically induce synesthesia. Like many of festival's other projects, Whispering in the Leaves elegantly and assuredly channels the transformative- at times, all-consuming - power of audio broadcast. - Tyler Coburn


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Transmediale @ Twenty

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Over the course of its twenty-year history the annual Berlin festival Transmediale has undergone multiple transformations. Originally an offshoot of the Berlin Film Festival, it grew into Video Fest, then Transmedia and now Transmediale- an evolution that reflects the trajectory of the medium from a specialized activity to a ubiquitous component of daily life. Organized under the theme of "CONSPIRE", this year's festival seeks to, "question, subvert, undermine and bypass the unspoken rules, hidden codes of conduct and assumed truths entrenched within our information driven communication cultures and ideological belief structures." A large and truly international exhibition interprets the conspiratorial through a series of thematic 'clusters' including "Bio-Organic Systems," "Twisted Realities," and "Alternative Science / Science vs Fiction." The annual conference and keynotes includes papers by an equally diverse cast. Of particular interest this year is the session "Web 3.0: Conspiring To Keep The Net Public," which will focuses on the question of "who controls the rights, identities of the users therein" and the increasing commodification of online data and personal expression. Moderated by runme.org co-founder Olga Goriunova, the panel is composed of an international group of theorists, activists and artists including Seda Gurses, Fran Ilich, Felipe Fonseca, Michelle Teran and Simon Yuill. In addition to the exhibition and conference, the festival also hosts a series of film and video screenings and performances. The conference as a whole will be streamed live for the duration of the festival. Transmediale runs from January 30th to February 3rd. - Caitlin Jones



Editor's note: Rhizome will run a comprehensive review of the festival next week by correspondent Michelle Kasprzak.

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Make Way on the Dance Floor

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San Francisco is a city with a rich legacy of blending live performance and experiments with technology. For the last eight years, the Women on the Way festival has been a part of that tradition. Organized by the aptly-named Footloose organization, whose emphasis is on emerging and established women artists, the festival celebrates dance as a form of collaborative expression within a community and has adventurously embraced new media as a component of these expressions. The WOW festival is an annual highlight of those efforts, and this year it will bring to San Francisco an ensemble of talented artists. Throughout the month of January, sound artist Sean Clute and choreographer Pauline Jennings's dance company, Double Vision, is presenting two interactive performances, "Cycle" and "Three Canons and Mise en Scenes". On January 18, Laetitia Sonami and Les Stuck will present an intermedia performance entitled The Appearance of Silence, (The Invention of Perspective). Stuck is a sound and video artist who has collaborated with a number of notable performers and Sonami is a multi-talented composer, dancer, choreographer, and installation artist. Their project refers to the ways in which perspectivalism, as an invented way of seeing, is thrown off by new technologies that arguably flatten our depth of field. The piece will use the body's relation to a series of abstract sounds to tell the story of fidelity in vision and music. At center stage will be Sonami's famous "lady glove," a midi-studded black lycra glove whose sensors respond to movement with sound, creating a dynamic push/pull relationship between the dancer and her score. Video and sound excerpts on Sonami's website chart the evolution of these experiments in her work. - Marisa Olson

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