Friday, 19 March 2010

Alphabetised Energies - a Newcastle AV A to Z

This would be the write-up equivalent of Pecha Kucha, only I don't have a picture for everything and they're aren't twenty items. Nonetheless, here goes a snappy overview what I caught of the Newcastle part of last week's energy themed AV festival:

All Art Is, Is Rhythm: Exhibition at Newcastle University of six contemporary artists, featuring a colour changing painting, copper coils and one hell of a lot little teddy bears (pictured). The highlight though was Felix Hess' It's in the Air, a floor covered with delicate paper flags, which turned with the air flows around the room.

Coal Fired Computing: Outside the Discovery museum, a showman's steam engine burns 1.5 tons of coal to power a computer system cycling through the legal and medical records of coal miners. Blackened lungs inflate each time the database locates a record of lung disease. The link between coal and computing might seem oblique, but 70% of power in India and China (where the bulk of computer components are made) is coal, mainly from unregulated mines.

condemned_bulbes: Also in the Discovery Musuem, a set a large bulbs hung from the ceiling, flickering and crackling.

Crossroads: Montage film of nuclear tests with music by Patrick Gleesona and Terry Riley. Eerily relaxing. I kept phasing in and out of sleep.

Datarama: Set in the awesomely informal Star and Shadow Cinema, a set of short presentations on subjects such as ducks, TV remotes and the potentially murderous potential of Stephen Fry's twitter feed.

Feral Trade Cafe: Utilising the surplus freight potential of tourism and culturally funded travel, Feral Trade brought me the most delicious breakfast I have ever tasted (poached egg, yoghurt and zatar on pita) and some great hot chocolate too. Oh yes, and space for reflection on the nature of trading networks, informal exchange, traceability yadayadayada.

Jenny Holzer: Many installations where records of abuse and torture from the war in Iraq were fed through long LED displays. The presence of a table of (human?) bones felt, if anything, like a counterbalance for the work's gaudiness.

Maker Faire: Purportedly 'the world's premiere event for DIY technology and craft' the highlight for me was the arcade machine played by slapping a manikin's bottom.

Resonator: A workshop of sound experiments, themed on the overlap between technology and mysticism. Sound produced steam, a speaker twirling on a chain, a taut string read by a sensor. And a free cup of tea.

Space Against Itself:
An intense shifting soundscape inside the Tyne Bridge North Tower. Like many sound installations which respond to the audience, it was barely discernible that your movements made a difference, but the sound itself worked incredibly well.

Sound Seam: A visually impressive set of colourful trumpets hung from all parts of the rooms; the sonic elements of the installation were interesting but not quite as striking.

Untitled (Strange Bird): A roadside billboard showing a patch of cloudy sky and a single, out of focus bird in the lower part. Most people passed it by without a single look, and the simple fact of this created a feeling of a private space out on the street.

Zilvinas Kempinas: A long string of tape running around the room buffeted by fans, forming a changing line surrounding the room. Simple and effective.

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