The Santa Fe In­ter­na­tional New Me­dia Fes­ti­val

Pasatiempo - - CREATIVE SPECTRUM - — Michael Abatemarco

One big chal­lenge ev­ery year for Mar­i­an­nah Am­ster and Frank Ragano, co-ex­ec­u­tive and artis­tic di­rec­tors of Cur­rents: The Santa Fe In­ter­na­tional New Me­dia Fes­ti­val, is where to place in­stal­la­tions in re­la­tion to one another without com­pet­ing or over­lap­ping sound and video pro­jec­tions. Ca­bles, pro­jec­tors, speak­ers, and DVD play­ers must be masked to lessen their vis­ual im­pact, scrims must be hung to pre­vent one work’s em­a­nat­ing light from pol­lut­ing the piece next to it, and enough space must be al­lot­ted to al­low vis­i­tors to ex­pe­ri­ence the full ef­fects of each art­work. Am­ster and Ragano have been run­ning the fes­ti­val, which be­gins on Fri­day, June 10, and con­tin­ues through June 26, since its be­gin­nings in 2002. The first few fes­ti­vals, pro­duced by their or­ga­ni­za­tion Par­al­lel Stu­dios be­tween 2002 and 2009, were small in scale com­pared to the present multi-venue foot­print. Since 2010, El Museo Cul­tural de Santa Fe has been home to the main ex­hi­bi­tion, while satel­lite shows and events oc­cur through­out the city and state. The fes­ti­val is now in its sev­enth con­sec­u­tive year as an an­nual in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­val. Cur­rents staff are in­stal­la­tion pro­fes­sion­als, and the fes­ti­val is the most far-reach­ing, dy­namic, and vis­ually in­ven­tive art ex­po­si­tion in town.

It is also the most in­clu­sive event of its size and kind in Santa Fe. Cur­rents part­ners with lo­cal gal­leries, schools, and art in­sti­tu­tions for satel­lite ex­hibits, sym­po­siums, work­shops, and lec­tures, and the expo fea­tures many lo­cal artists. But what does the main ex­hibit in­clude? It’s not all sin­gle-chan­nel video, al­though there’s plenty of that. There are also out­door in­stal­la­tions and pro­jec­tions, ro­bot­ics, im­mer­sive mul­ti­me­dia en­vi­ron­ments, com­puter-sim­u­lated re­al­i­ties ex­pe­ri­enced through Ocu­lus Rift head­sets, sound­scapes, and video sculp­tures. In ad­di­tion, there’s mul­ti­me­dia per­for­mance art, such as Aus­tralian artist Michaela Davies’ Duty, a Pavlo­vian-like dance piece in which seven par­tic­i­pants hold­ing hand­bells are af­fixed with elec­trodes and a mu­si­cal com­po­si­tion con­verted to a MIDI sends elec­tronic im­pulses to their mus­cles, re­sult­ing in in­vol­un­tary spasms and forc­ing the sub­jects to per­form. “It’s won­der­ful and creepy at the same time,” Ragano told Pasatiempo. “They’re play­ing these bells be­cause they have to.” Duty is per­formed on Fri­day evening, June 10, and Satur­day, June 11, dur­ing the open­ing week­end events.

Brook­lyn-based col­lec­tive Ari­adne’s mul­ti­me­dia per­for­mance piece Ob­ser­vance_003 also takes place on June 10. Out­door in­stal­la­tions in­clude North Carolina-based artists Lee Weis­ert and Jonathan Kirk’s

Soundial: three ul­tra­sonic di­rec­tional speak­ers that ro­tate at dif­fer­ent rates and emit sounds in a nar­row range that can be heard only when fac­ing them. Also on Satur­day evening, com­poser Grey Fi­las­tine and vo­cal­ist Nova Ruth, known as Fi­las­tine, per­form their world-mu­sic-in­spired ex­per­i­men­tal com­po­si­tions. New Mex­ico-made projects in­clude col­lab­o­ra­tors Max Almy and Teri Yar­brow’s mo­tion-ac­ti­vated mul­ti­me­dia work Retabla; Su­sanna Carlisle and Bruce Hamil­ton’s video pro­jec­tion De­bris; sin­gle-chan­nel video and an­i­ma­tion by Or­lando Lei­bovitz; and Mar­cus Zúñiga’s

Space, a revolving com­puter-gen­er­ated field of stars. Mo­bile and web-based apps and games en­rich the ex­pe­ri­ence this year, too. Los An­ge­les artist Sa­man­tha Gor­man’s PRY, for in­stance, is an in­ter­ac­tive app that lets you peer into the mind and con­scious­ness of a fic­tional Gulf War vet­eran named James. “We have many pieces that you have to down­load apps for,” Ragano said. “We’re go­ing to have a bunch of iPads that peo­ple can walk around with that al­ready have things loaded on to them. You can also down­load stuff onto your own de­vice and in­ter­act with stuff that way, too.” The apps are avail­able on the Cur­rents web­site at www.cur­rentsnew­me­­loads, where a fes­ti­val app for iOS and An­droid mo­bile de­vices can also be down­loaded. “If you have the fes­ti­val app on your phone, it will au­to­mat­i­cally pull up the in­for­ma­tion about the works and the artists. It has our sched­ule on it. It has links to all the apps to down­load. It’s re­ally go­ing to be our cat­a­log, in a sense.”

To say that Cur­rents is ci­ty­wide is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion. Ex­hi­bi­tions in con­junc­tion with Cur­rents in­clude David Richard Gallery’s show Plugged In (on view through July 4), Form & Con­cept’s Vir­tual Ob­ject (from June 10 to Aug. 11), a show of 3-D-printed art­works, and a show of new me­dia works by stu­dents at the New Mex­ico School for the Arts, hosted by Ware­house 21 (from June 10 to June 12). The In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts presents a se­ries of “full­dome” screen­ings at their Dig­i­tal Dome be­gin­ning at 2 p.m. on Satur­day, June 11, as well as 2 p.m. on June 18 and 19, and a shut­tle is avail­able for hourly trips be­tween El Museo Cul­tural and IAIA on those dates. The Vi­o­let Crown Cin­ema par­tic­i­pates with screen­ings of ex­per­i­men­tal doc­u­men­tary shorts on Wed­nes­day, June 15, and June 22, and the Thoma Foundation opens the ex­hibit Mouse in the Ma­chine: Na­ture in the

Age of Dig­i­tal Art on June 18 at their Art House gallery. Work­shops in­clude “Build Your Own In­ter­net-of-Things Mi­cro-Con­troller” at Make Santa Fe (in­side the Meow Wolf Art Com­plex) at 1 p.m. on June 10, led by tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant Mark Hel­lar; an in­ter­ac­tive dome work­shop at IAIA’s Dig­i­tal Dome at 10 a.m. on Sun­day, June 12; and a best prac­tices work­shop for new me­dia artists spon­sored by 1st-Mile In­sti­tute and held at Ware­house 21, also on June 12, at 1:30 p.m. The work­shop costs vary, and a full sched­ule is avail­able on the Cur­rents web­site.

Be­yond Santa Fe, new me­dia ex­hibits as­so­ci­ated with Cur­rents open at the Cen­ter for the Arts in Hobbs, the Roswell Mu­seum and Art Cen­ter, and the New Mex­ico State Univer­sity Art Gallery in Las Cruces.

Michaela Davies: Duty, 2014, doc­u­men­ta­tion of per­for­mance at Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art; op­po­site page, Max Almy and Teri Yar­brow: Retabla, 2016, wa­ter-cut pati­nated cop­per, LED screen, and pro­jec­tion

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