Since its inception in 2009, NEoN Digital Arts Festival has consistently excelled at bringing the best in digital media, performance, sound and technology-driven arts to Dundee. From new media events in multi-storey car parks to LED dance performances on the Law Hill, via installations in some of Dundee’s oldest buildings and a now worldwide network of artists and collaborators, the festival lights up the cold November nights for seven days, and this year’s programme looks set to raise the bar even higher. Here are some highlights.
The festival launches on Sunday 3rd November with This Much We Know – a retrospective tour through Dundee’s creative and cultural history, showing that the city’s current renaissance began with the musicians, poets, writers, actors, artists and thinkers who, through overcoming many setbacks and challenges, laid the foundations for today’s vibrant creative scene.
At Roseangle Cafe Arts on Monday 4th November, V & A at Dundee host the fourth in their series of Digital Mash events which have been crucial in helping inform the direction of the V & A at Dundee project. Led by Sophia George, a BAFTA-winner and the V & A’s first ever game designer in residence, this instalment will look at digital interpretation in the museum world, throwing light on how she is helping the V & A develop its collections and move forward in the digital sphere. Meanwhile, in the gallery space, Theatre of Noise incorporates DIY synths, projected audio-reactive visuals and clouds of haze to create an interactive, immersive sonic and visual experience that is participant-led and promises to be somewhat psychedelic.
Wet Sounds comes to NEoN on Friday 8th November after touring various international festivals including All Tomorrow’s Parties, Mutek, Elektroni(k), Scopitone, Nordic, Insomnia, Brighton Science Festival and more. An underwater listening experience, as the listener floats on the surface of the water or dives in deep, sound is perceived as if coming from inside the head, creating an ‘astonishingly immediate, inescapable’ experience, according to The Guardian. As well as the soundscape permeating the water and the vastness of the newly-opened Olympia, there will be underwater performance, lights and large scale projections completing the spectacle.
Preceding the event, Joel Cahen, the sound artist behind the concept, will host an afternoon workshop on Thursday 7th November exploring sound narratives and improvisation with the resulting work being incorporated into the soundscape of Wet Sounds. The workshop is open to all, regardless of musical/technical knowledge, and promises to be a fun afternoon of noise making, improvising, recording and experimenting.
NEoN 2013′s exhibiting artist Francesca Perona is showing some very exciting work in Liminal Cities which opens on Friday 8th November at the Hannah Maclure Centre. Incorporating soluble objects, micro-dripping systems, recycled micro-crushed concrete, 3d printing with double extrusion and paper cuts, Liminal Cities is Perona’s response to Dundee’s changing landscape and aims to trace connections between natural ecologies and manmade landscapes, and between past, present and future heritage. As well as the new work, Perona will also exhibit her interactive works from the V & A Digital Futures project which have got to be seen (and felt!) to be believed.
In keeping with previous NEoN artists, Perona will also host an open workshop on Sunday 3rd November – Liminal City Lights, which will involve participants learning how to make a simple circuit with LED lights and coin cell batteries, encased in delicate origami paper structures. The LED sculptures will then be carried by the group through the city to be planted in colourful clusters, leaving a physical light-trace of their journey and creating a one-night light show in the urban landscape.
The finale day on Saturday 3rd November starts early with Drop in and Play at Dundee Contemporary Arts from 4pm. Hosted by the prodigiously talented Quartic Llama (responsible for the award-winning Other audio game, developed in conjunction with National Theatre Scotland), Drop in and Play showcases new games made by local designers and is a great chance to ask the experts any burning questions about how to get into the business and play games you have never tried before.
The festival signs off with two major events to be held in the Vision Building on Seabraes, the first of which is Forever Falling Nowhere – a pioneering new work produced in collaboration with Smallpetitklein Dance Company alongside Digital Artists, Sound Designers and Composers based in Dundee. Showcasing motion capture, animation, projection mapping and Kinect sensor technology, the work will transform its industrial surroundings into a dazzling display of movement and interaction that promises to be very special indeed.
Following that, Yuck n Yum’s Annual General Karaoke will draw the week to a close in inimitable fashion – previous AGK’s have included dancing milk cartons, fake blood, stripping, screaming , floor rolling, drinking, smashed keyboards, women with moustaches, skeletons and of course some lovely singing too!