Dig­i­tal art ‘or­phan’ finds a new home at Gra­ham­stown fes­ti­val

Sunday Times - - News | The A-listers - By LEONIE WAG­NER

● Some of South Africa’s top and up-an­com­ing dig­i­tal artists will be tak­ing part in a new dig­i­tal pro­gramme to be launched at the Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val in Gra­ham­stown this week.

The pro­gramme, which took a year to put to­gether, will in­clude work­shops, in­stal­la­tions, talks and per­for­mances on top­ics such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in the art space, an­i­mat­ing fu­tur­ist car­toon char­ac­ters and ex­plor­ing al­go­rithms in per­for­mance art.

Among those tak­ing part are Yoav

Da­gan, a TV and film pro­ducer who works with artist Wil­liam Ken­tridge on his videos; Bradley Kir­shen­baum, the graphic de­signer be­hind the Love Jozi range of Tshirts; and pho­tog­ra­pher and filmmaker Daron Chatz, who has de­signed virtual art apps.

In­ter­na­tional speaker and dig­i­tal me­dia guru Monika Biel­skyte, who has worked on var­i­ous Ri­d­ley Scott movies, will be dis­cussing virtual re­al­ity and de­sign­ing sci-fi worlds for the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

The Creati­vate Dig­i­tal Arts Fes­ti­val will run along­side the pop­u­lar arts fes­ti­val, which takes place from next Thurs­day to July 1. It is aimed at ex­plor­ing the space where cre­ativ­ity, in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy meet.

The brain­child of Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val CEO Tony Lankester, the dig­i­tal pro­gramme was cu­rated by Lankester, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ashraf Jo­haar­dien and IT jour­nal­ist Toby Shap­shak.

Re­fer­ring to dig­i­tal art as the “or­phan child” in the tra­di­tional art world, Shap­shak said this was slowly chang­ing.

“So many other, more es­tab­lished art forms are seen as ‘pure art’, in­clud­ing theatre, dance, and mu­sic. Dig­i­tal art, like all new art forms, is still find­ing its way and estab­lish­ing it­self. But I think we’re liv­ing in an age where vis­ual lit­er­acy and artis­tic ap­pre­ci­a­tion are be­com­ing main­stream,” Shap­shak said.

Lankester said al­though dig­i­tal arts had been around for a while, more artists were be­gin­ning to ex­plore tech­nol­ogy and the dif­fer­ent ways it could en­hance their work. In so do­ing, artists were able to ex­plore new ways to reach au­di­ences and push the bound­aries of their cre­ativ­ity.

Lankester said the aim was to “make tech­nol­ogy ac­ces­si­ble and less scary, to em­brace its pos­si­bil­i­ties”, and he hoped the Creati­vate Dig­i­tal Art Fes­ti­val would ap­peal to every­one — not just artists.

A woman in a virtual-re­al­ity head­set ex­pe­ri­ences the ‘Source Fold Com­pos­i­tor’ in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tion at the Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val.

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