Book fighting, micropets and dancing robots at the 9th edition of the Gamerz festival
2014 already and a happy one to you! I thought i'd celebrate the new year with a write up about one of the events i enjoyed the most last year. Once again, my applause goes to the Gamerz festival. I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me months to publish this post since i'm going to repeat the same praises i heaped up on the previous editions of GAMERZ: this festival is imaginative, offbeat, laid-back and its energy never wavers. It's also a great place for me to discover young artist and it takes place in Aix-en-Provence which is never unpleasant.
I already talked to some of the participating artists: Thomas Cimolaï told me about The trophies from the 6th continent and Luce Moreau explained Constance, an installation in weightlessness. But there were plenty of other installations and performances that deserve some blog space.
Let's start with Bookfighting!
In 2005, the French made the news all over the world when they installed book-vending machines in the streets of Paris. A few years later, they are literally throwing books at each other's heads.
One of the performances i was really annoyed to miss was Yves Durathon's bookfighting. The concept, rules and spirit are embedded into the title. Wearing protective gear and following strict rules, the fighters pick up pocket books from a heap and use them as projectiles for combats. Bookfighting started as a performance and has grown into a practice mixing combat sports and culture.
With this sport, Durathon wanted to celebrate the passage from paper culture to digital culture. Books, as we know them, are already objects from the past and the new combat sport is probably the only remaining mode to enjoy them in a lively, joyful way.
Labomedia's WikikIRC, the sound of Wikipedia is a piano 'played' by wikipedia.fr. The flow of the modifications made by the editors of the French version of Wikipedia are transformed in real time into sounds.
A robot posts each modification made on Wikipedia.fr on a chat (the "IRC" channel). The texts are then converted into an electric pulse which turns on a servo motor that activates a hammer rail (extracted from a piano). This hammer activates after that a piano key, which uses its hammer to hit on a string (triple string or "trichord") to produce an audible sound. Played one after the other, these sounds, besides create a little bit of harmony in this world, describe the activity that grows daily on this collaborative encyclopedia.
Just like the books, phone booths are dying a slow death. Nowadays, the only times i see them is on TV when the villain calls a public street phone to communicate instructions on where to leave the ransom money. Djeff Regottaz modified an old phone so that anyone can leave a message there anonymously and it's the next person who picks up the receiver who will hear the message. Very simple but incredibly intimate, charming and mysterious. Unless you happened to listen to the dumb message i left, of course.
I don't remember the last time i switched on a TV so, to me at least, this is yet another dead technology. Mathias Isouard gives the telecommunication device a new function by playing with synesthesia. Viewers do their most ordinary job: they sit down on a couch and switch channels to get bombed by audiovisual stimuli. Only this time, the device will invert the senses, to visualize auditive variations and hear visual variations from the televisual live stream. SynesTV offers a purely stimulatory interpretation of the TV stream, devoid of informative content. You can get a vague idea of the images generated in the few minutes of this video interview with the artist. I just learnt from this interview that the remote control is called 'la zappette' in french. How i grew up speaking french without ever hearing that hilarious word is a mystery.
Because the region Marseille-Provence was the European Capital of Culture in 2013, Colson Wood, a carpenter experimenting with art and architecture, decided to symbolically move the icon of the French capital South of the country and erect a wooden Eiffel Tower in the garden of the Art School of Aix-en-Provence. The result was quite magnificent even though the tower has been built on a 1:24 scale, aka the Playmobil scale.
I interviewed Antonin Fourneau a few days ago about Eniarof. He was showing Water Light Graffiti at Gamerz. You might have heard of it, it's a wall covered with thousands of LEDs that light up when touched by water.
Jankenpopp's electronic one man shows are very popular in France. I think. In any case i find him hilarious and talented. Jankenpopp works with video, sound, hacks video game devices to make music. Here's a video of his work, but it doesn't do justice to his ability to make people dance and laugh:
Marie Poláková will never convince me to adopt microscopic organisms as pets i could care for and even grow to love but i like that she is thinking of designing 'lifestyle accessories' for them.
Peter William Holden, Vicious Circle, 2012
Peter William Holden's Vicious Circle has a very clunky, antiquated built. However, as soon as the robotic installation gets into motion, the sculpture gets much lighter and elegant. Vicious Circle is inspired by the the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent changes in human development. "The motion of the machine reminds me of the relentless movement of progress as the machine moves to its predetermined program, ignorant of its environment and unwilling to stop if anything gets in its way," writes the artist. "Though paradoxically it is possible to see beauty within its movements as the life size cast hands rise and fall forming a swarm that flocks together like birds in a choreographed dance to Prokofiev's "Dance of the knights". Thus reminding me that technology is a double edged sword and we / humanity have the possibility to decide which direction it will take."
The artist also splendidly choreographed umbrellas. I blogged about the installation a hundred years ago so instead of writing down something, i'm going to encourage you to have a look at the interview Gamerz did with the artist:
Artist Ewen Chardronnet was showing the HD3D video of his experience on the first parabolic weightless flight, zero gravity flight for tourists, Air Zero G provided by AVICO company, the first French air broker.
I also got the one below in the photo pack from the festival. I do believe i've missed this performance.