Some weeks ago in Brussels took place the Cimatics festival one of the more interesting European appointments for those who are interesting in electronic audiovisual experimentation.
Organized by a little group of experts Nicolas Wierinck, Sam Vanonverschelde, Jurgen Van Gemert, Bram Crevits, Arne Depoorter, Pascal Courtois, Geoffroy Delobel, Jerome Frank, Frederic della Faille, tied also to other cultural realities of the city such as the Media Ruimte gallery which hosted a little but very important personal of our Limiteazero (that is Paolo Rigamonti and Silvio Mondino) the Cimatics didn’t disappoint the expectations hosting a rich programme of performances and of audiovisual installations based both on the electronic dialogue between sounds and images and on the strumental and cinematographic relation between the two components. Cinematics is, to be honest, maybe not everybody knows this, one of the first European festivals to have undertaken the path of the mixing between the more experimental wing of the “higher” audio video research and more playful and mostly tied to a diffuse pop electronic culture wing.
The programme of the Cimatics 2006 reflects also n its way this type of comparison. Divided in two auditoriums inside the beautiful and central Beursschouwburg, Cimatics has seen in the sector of the theatre the most cultured and difficult audiovisual performances, while in the area underneath the video club occurred the most club and amusing project, tied, if we want, to the binomial djing and vjing.
Many projects were presented surely the most effective one there are the at this point tested Blindscape of Scanner+Tez, the mixmedia performance of Ryoichi Kurokawa, the always involving live set of Murcof, Rotor of the Boris & Brecht Debackere brothers, the crazy micromusic live set the French Gangpol und Mit and the minimal noise concert of the pair Floris Van Hoof + R.O.T. (K-RAA-K)3. There are many doubts on the new project Art of War of the light Surgeon, maybe a little bit pretentious in its concept and however not so effective like other project of theirs and also on the waited German Incite with their very while How Machine Dance. The audio video projects not based on the electronics were instead very interesting: from Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensamble to Arden ; Cinematics shows its interest towards every barriers of live integration between sound and images, even if they don’t come from the more properly digital area.
The installations in the lounge area were also interesting, from Spray of Cartsen Nicolai to FF Series of Telcosystems, from the Multimedia Library to the presentation of the new book of the D-Fuse entitled Vjing + Audio-Visual Art, this project openly is to reconsider and I hope to have the opportunity soon to discuss it with the direct concerned people. We speak of this and much more with Bram Crevits, theoretical object and one of the organizers of the festival.
Marco Mancuso: What are the feedbacks of this edition of Cimatics? What were the objectives of this edition and what are the differences with the past editions?
Bram Crevits: The aim of this edition of the Cimatics festival was very simply: to reach wider audience with a programme which should remain high within quality and to go on with the development of the function of platform of the Cimatics. During the festival, the Cimatics offers to artists, promoters, journalists or fans the opportunity to meet and to exchange ideas, to make projects. This is an essential function of a festival and it is the only way to help and to support really the scenery of the live audio visual art. In the whole history of the modern art, the dialogue and the discussion showed this potential: the crucial developments in the modern history of art was always born not only from the controversial work of the art in itself but also from the writings, the articles, the theories, the fights in the café and the love stories. Especially in the science of the audio video, where there are artists and participants from the more different backgrounds, from the programmers of PCs to graphics from classic musicians to performers, we think that this is even more important.
This is what the digital culture brought us and therefore what the Cimatics tries to express: the connection among complete different worlds. This seems to be a merely conceptual point of view. But we try to make it real with Cimatics: with the connection between audio and video. This concept isn’t limited only at digital projects and this is an advantage: Cimatics isn’t, in fact, a multimedia festival in the classic sense of the concept. We have an opening which allows us to involve also the analogical world for a structural approach to the digital revolution. And when we talk of mixing different worlds, the last and more important way is to mix the analogical worlds with the digital one and vice versa. Part of our aim is thus to draw up these people and this year it goes very well. Regarding the quality of the projects I think that artist such as Ryoichi Kurokawa, Gangpol und Mit, Floris Vanhoof & R.O.T. or Incite, or Scanner/Tez, Murcof, only citing some names, cannot be discussed at the moment.
Marco Mancuso: What differences you note between the current electronic audiovisual and the past (also recent when you started Cimatics) performances? According to you how is this world changed over the last few years and what do you wait in the next years?
Bram Crevits: Now we are working at the fifth edition of the festival. It’s difficult to speak about a gradual evolution. First of all because it is a very short time lapse and second because what we see now is really so much. It is a very chaotic area, almost impossible to point out a possible evolution. This vastness inside the world of the live AV is in part due to internet: the audiovisual live isn’t something new (I wrote in this regard a text titled “the roots of vjing in the last book of D-Fuse “Vj: Audio-Visual Art + Vj Culture”) it exists since many years, maybe centuries, but the presence of internet permitted surely the growth within projects and performances.
People can easily find the software to compose sound or video or to create their software to combine audio and images; they can meet other people in an increasing number of web sites dedicated to live audio video, to vjing and so on therefore if we want to speak about revolution, I think that we must underline the technological one. Technology evolves very quickly and is becoming more and more available opposed to the real evolution which we want to see, tied to the synaesthetic audiovisual language. Every language obviously needs its time to evolve or better the teaching or the development of a language needs time and it is a slow process of attempt and mistakes, of experimentation. It is such as the methods for learning of children who need to play to learn. Cimatics wants therefore to offer this in the field of the audio video and in a wider way to the new Medias and the digital culture.
Marco Mancuso: What do you think about the recent attention of the Medias, of the private companies, of the institutions and of the wider audience for the projects of artistic audiovisual experimentation?
Bram Crevits: Yes, you have right, but I want to clarify that having the attention of the Medias or finding companies which wants to support Cimatics is still hard for us. We take only a little support in comparison with what the traditional film festivals obtain. Also the pure festivals on the new Medias seem to have easier channel at the moment. The live audiovisual art and the vjing belong at a darker area and in this sense for us it is more difficult to find funding.
Marco Mancuso: The multimedia projects can be considered as the most modern form of the pop culture of the western world maybe more than the artistic avant-garde which address to a niche of “experts”. What do you think about this, do you agree with my sensation?
Bram Crevits: Do you perceive the Cimatics? I can imagine that it seems so and it is surely our aim to cross the limits. But we don’t want to think only within a struggle between “high art” and “popular culture”, we want above all stimulate a cross-over among these two worlds. At the Cimatics for example we have on one side the performances in theatre of a certain type, for a seated audience maybe more experimental, on the other side we have the video club wit a more playful place such as a club with a more dancing-drinking-standing-talking-kissing audience. In comparison with the past years, we sell now only one ticket which gives access to both the programmes. And when we plan the programme, we don’t hesitate to meet he needs of a certain audience with maybe more experimental projects that the ones which we give to a dancing audience. You can call it a strategic programme but I prefer calling it illuminated programme. And it works. And then, after all, aren’t we, born in the television age, experts of culture and audiovisual languages?
Marco Mancuso: How it is possible according to you, today for the festival, the editors, the promoters of the world of the electronic art, to continue and to implement the dialogue with the experimentation world and the contemporary art (I mean the museums, art galleries and cultural institutions)?
Bram Crevits: This is a good and difficult question. How ii said, it’s important to maintain contact with a wider audience. But the world of the contemporary art offers at the same time an important tradition of reflections, which combines the electronic projects with the history of art with philosophy and also with sociology. This is as much important and I think that the only way to draw closer or to get in touch with this world is to encourage the reflection from the interior. However my main interest isn’t to push the dynamics of the popular culture in the so called “high art” but I want to concentrate myself on the connection between the experimental live AV and the mass culture represented by the middle companies and by the science.
The vjing were influenced in large part by the contemporary art, but it doesn’t mean that the television was influenced by the vjs or by audiovisual projects. This is a missing and essential link in the modern and global western society. It deals with ethics, with giving recognition to the visions coming from a cultural and humanistic point of view. Instead of making new audiovisual Medias only on the basis of business strategies develop, we need maybe an artistic-cultural approach to this development, which gives priority to the medium itself. Think at the concept of economy of the information and at the important role that the creativity will work in the short future of the European economy as material of start such as the steel did in the past.
Marco Mancuso: In conclusion, you are bound to other realities of the city, such as the MediaRuimte. How is it important for you to work together in the city? What are your possible future projects together?
Bram Crevits: Yes, I think it is very important to cooperate with other institutions. Regarding the MediaRuimte we have a good relationship which guarantees the necessary diversity of the programme. They are experts in a certain field of the art with the new media that is extremely important for the focus of Cimatics on the sound and images. I believe that also the possible collaborations with other institutions in Belgium would be important but we like thinking to Brussels not only as a Belgian city. Also for the fact that it isn’t only the capital of the Flemish and Belgian but also of Europe , when you start to collaborate with this or that institution, this prompts also competitions or divisions with other prospective partners. Therefore we prefer the collaboration with the Foton organization for the music and the electronic Medias. This project focuses on the audiovisual scene in Brussels , but it isn’t a competition with other Belgian or Flemish cities. Brussels is an international place, it is the incarnation of the Europe , and so our project is to consider them as a European or international project.