The nineteenth Symposium on Electronic Art hits Sydney next month with a program of exhibitions, performances and panel discussions to enlighten audiences on the practice, significance and influence of electronic media arts.

The 19th Symposium on Electronic Art hits Sydney next month with a program of exhibitions, performances and panel discussions to enlighten audiences on the practice, significance and influence of electronic media arts. We’ve taken a look at two outfits from Switched On, the Performance Space lineup that will present for the Symposium’s program come June.

 

Perth-based collective PVI will bring their notorious Deviator game to Darlinghurst, before Aphids creative director Willoh S. Weiland wraps the show with Forever Now – launchingthe final installment in her acclaimed Space Trilogy. There’s something ineffably human about these works. Both look at the future-noir demise of our society. One wants us to survive it into another time, the other wants to save us from it.

 

The message brought to us by PVI is simple. The clusterfuck of the 21st century is upon us and we’ve got 45 minutes to play our way out of oblivion. “Once you press ‘go’ you’re in the work,” says Steve Bull, one of three big names behind PVI. It’s an app-based game that responds to the city via QR codes. The team bump in with a swag of local artists and set up a subversive scavenger hunt that will ramble across the East Sydney twilight.

 

With Deviator, serious Intel behind the scenes has gone into giving you a pure experience. And the real beauty is that it’s going to engage passersby just as it will the people playing. Bull digs hi-tech, immersive and audio-driven. His, is not for passive, proscenium arch theatre experience. He explains that the type of deviations they have in store “are quite subtle, but they are radical for the participants”.

 

In what looks set to be one of the most ambitious curatorial undertakings we’ve seen in some time, Forever Now will revise NASA’s 1977 Voyager phonograph record. The Western canonical audio book of our then world, sent like a bottle into the cosmic ocean, as a message to extraterrestrial life. In essence, Weiland is looking at the space game, radio science in particular, as one of the biggest knowledge industries of our time and insists that artists have a free voice in its cultural expansion.

 

The project, which launches on June 15, will run off a website designed by Icelab artist programmers Nerinda Readers and Max Wheeler until January 2014 when Forever Now’s record will actually be sent into space as part of MONA FOMA. For the first six months, in an international open-call, artists are being asked to submit work in a one minute audio visual format. A handpicked team of heavyweight curators will reside on the website, keeping the dialogue rolling.

 

She wants artists to send a new record of us into space and is earnest about the statement of immortality. When pressed about the technology involved she says, “For me it has to be a serious attempt, mainly because it is possible. In terms of the science, it’s not inaccurate to have hope in that possibility.” Weiland is talking about the Drake equation and she’s talking to NASA, leaving none in doubt “We will try our very best to get this object into space.

 

“For anyone to answer the question ‘what would you say to infinity, or to space, or to the future?’ what happens is that you get quite stuck in the attempt to describe universality, to communicate something that represents everyone. Once people start to do that, the content gets more reductive and more and more boring. The challenge is really about simplicity and trying to communicate something little about human experience,” says Weiland.

 

From one circuit to another, Switched On is about abstract ideas given legs by scientific solutions – and it seems to hold a different kind of transformative potential to anything coming out of the plastic arts.

 

BY ALEX SUTCLIFFE

 

Deviator and Forever Now present as part of Performance Space’s Switched On program for ISEA2013.

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