This years theme 'The Promise of the Internet' explored the duality within the online world
By Abdullah Al-wali on December 11th 2015
We’ve been a little bit quiet at DINA Magazine for the past couple months. The stream of inspiring art hasn’t stopped flowing but our modest operation was at capacity focusing on two projects close to our hearts. The first was co-organising and co-curating Connect the Dots 2015 festival. The second was collaborating on the launch of a new physical space for DINA, a brand new digital arts venue in Sheffield, UK. But to get us back on track we’re pleased to share a recap of the festival with our readers.
Connect the Dots is our sister company, promoting digital cultures in the real world through a series of exhibitions, workshops and talks in Music, Art, Film and Technology. This year’s theme was ‘The Promise of the Internet’. In her essay ‘Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?’, artist Hito Steyeri asks: “What happened to the Internet after it stopped being a possibility?” We hoped to address that question and to explore the contrasting notions of the Internet as both a misguided and hijacked medium, and a collaborative and creative space.
'The Promise of the Internet' explored the duality within the online world: the positive and the negative, the ying and the yang. The exhibition looked at reclaiming the internet, embracing emerging technologies and encouraging connectivity for the common good. It also aligned with this year’s launch of the Internet Social Forum by the Global Civil Society, which calls for us to “occupy the Internet” and to “bring together and articulate bottom-up perspectives on the 'Internet we want'”.
Below is the list of artists that exhibited alongside images of their pieces.
Art Belikov - 'The Promise Of The Internet'
Art Belikov is a 24 year old Lithuanian artist who creates 3D rendered images depicting scenes borrowed from late 90s sci-fi and embellished with old gadgets and mysterious objects.
For Connect the Dots 2015, Belikov was commissioned to create a series of images in response to the festival theme, one of which was chosen as the artwork for this year's festival poster and promotional materials.
The images symbolise the opposing forces within the internet and their respective consequences on our social community. It's a yin-yang transformation that shows the two opposing functions of this technology - that is both one of the greatest, yet one of the most invasive inventions of this age.
Joanna Moll - 'C02GLE'
Spanish digital artist Joana Moll lectures, performs and exhibits her work internationally. Moll holds a Master’s degree in Digital Arts from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and is a member of the Scientific and Artistic Committee of the Antiatlas des Frontières. Her work often explores sociopolitical themes, online surveillance and internet culture. A recent project www.ifapa.me offers insight into her exploration of our current selfie-stick, algorithm-ledd culture. She writes IFAPA “is a device for disempowering the users of the world wide web through code, in order to reduce the online community to states of confusion and abject misery. There is a button for instant revolution on every compute: the off power button. Just turn it off. Step outside. Smell the flowers.”
At Connect the Dots 2015, Moll explored the material impact of our combined online communications with CO2GLE, a real-time, net-based installation that displays Google Search’s CO2 emissions, per second, thanks to our global visits to Google.com. The project was inspired by an urge to highlight the invisible connection between actions and consequences when using digital communications technologies. Moll explains “Due to the complex set of actors involved in the configuration and operation of the Internet, it is impossible to determine the exact number of its CO2 emissions”, so the data she presents is approximate.
CO2GLE acts as a symbolic agent which seeks to reveal the link between our actions and their material impact on the physical world, and aims to create a mechanism that may trigger thoughts and actions that stimulate and re-appropriate subjectivity. I believe that this is an essential process in the generation of critical thought about the true nature of digital technology”.
Josh Geoghegan - 'Watching'
Josh Geoghegan is a multi-disciplinary designer based in Camberwell, London. A recent graduate from the Graphic and Media Design course at the London College of Communication, Josh primarily works in creative direction and editorial design, but recently introduced video into his practice, acting as director and art-director on a number of projects.
Connect the Dots 2015 exhibited Geoghegan’s film, ‘Watching’ which responds to the revelations on mass electronic surveillance, prompted by the Edward Snowden leaks in June, 2013.
Genetic Moo is a UK based art group making interactive and collaborative art, they create creatures and digital microworlds. Since 2008 they have been developing a series of interactive creatures based on imagined future evolutions. In dark spaces audiences engage with fantastical organisms combining elements of the human and the animal.
Recently they have been building Microworlds, filling rooms with interactive art - created by themselves and others, and have observed what happens in their complex and excitable digital ecosystem.
At Connect the Dots 2015 Genetic Moo exhibited two of their digital artworks in Sheffield. ‘Mother’, a generative complex digital immersive collage, and ‘Multiple’, an interactive sequence of animations where the audience is invited to add to the piece using their body and props.
Chris Alton - 'English Disco Lovers (EDL)
Chris Alton’s artworks often draw upon multiple, seemingly unassociated, cultural phenomena. Whether deploying disco music against xenophobia or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, he seeks to highlight unlikely parallels and produce bizarre situations. Through these, he aims to express alternative ways of being in the world, such as defiance, subversion and refusal. This desire stems from his Quaker upbringing, which resonates throughout his practice.
His current project, English Disco Lovers (EDL) was shown at Connect the Dots 2015. EDL is a multifaceted protest movement, which aims to reclaim the EDL acronym of the English Defence League. Alton adopted the history and etymology of disco, along with its utopian vision, and re-deployed these in opposition to contemporary intolerance. English Disco Lovers (EDL) exists in numerous forms, ‘The Promise of the Internet’ exhibits the EDL as an installation, though it also exists as online occupation, street-level protests, club nights, talks, exhibitions and as a shared idea.
Audrey Samson - 'Goodnight Sweetheart'
Audrey Samson is a media designer, artist and researcher formerly based in Rotterdam/Montréal and is a phd researcher at SCM in Hong Kong. She develops artistic strategies that examine the implications of the materiality of networks, exploring how social memory is related to objects and networked data archiving.
Connect the Dots 2015 exhibited Goodnight Sweetheart, a data embalming service created by Samson. The installation is a cemetery of defunct electronic devices cast in resin, with their memories irretrievably crystallised. The service is a digital data funeral, a ritual to symbolically escape datafication and put our datafied selves to rest.
The piece is a reminder that we are entwined more and more with our digital data, our online profiles and virtual personas. “We have a lot of digital information and digital traces online and this has many consequences...”
Will Kendrick - 'Light in the Hatch'
Glasgow based artist Will Kendrick uses varied digital techniques alongside Fine Art practice to create vivid and captivating digital installations. He has exhibited in both solo and group shows throughout the UK and Europe and has been awarded Residencies from Bath to Barcelona. His work explores the blurring of lines between the physical and digital realms, while referencing the collapse and the paralleling of time that has marked Western cultural output since the mid-20th century.
Will’s piece, Light in the Hatch is a multifaceted digital installation commissioned especially for this year’s CtD’s. The works’ diverse forms and eclectic referents reflect a broad spectrum of human endeavour in our hyper-saturated, globally connected experience. From the spectacular to the banal, the work considers the hierarchical values we impose on these endeavours, and call into question notions of futility and pragmatism, in terms of their usefulness to the collective organism we call humanity.
Jane Webb - 'Humanoid'
Jane Webb is a Hertfordshire based artist and curator. Since graduating from Central St Martins she has exhibited at the V&A Museum, The London Museum, where she was commissioned to work on Electro-Late. She is the founder and curator of Illumini, a not for profit organisation that promotes digital lights artists. Webb has won The Moich Abrahams Prize for most Innovative work and has recently exhibited her 'Cybernetic' art in Moscow. Jane's interests lie in the ways in which technology is used and abused by society today.
For Connect the Dots 2015, Webb created the ‘Humanoid’, which explores the various discourses around human reliance on technology and the internet. Webb uses mixed media to create futuristic, illuminating sculptures and installations, where recycled computer and electronic components are assimilated. The simplicity and complexity of circuit board patterns are a strong influence along with imagery of robotics and technological advancements in the area of prosthetics and cybernetics, which give humans a better way of life.
Will Hurt - 'Object/Construct'
Will Hurt studied at The Slade School of Fine Art and lives and works in Norwich and London. He has exhibited online, nationally and internationally, most recently in the US at the inaugural New York Design Week and has been commissioned to create installations and performances by Eglo Records.
Hurt uses generative programming techniques and real-time 3D graphics engines to create digital prints, digital animations and live performances exploring the nature of digital objects and their relationship with digital space.
For Connect the Dots 2015, Hurt created Object/Construct, a part digital toy, part interactive, generative animation. The piece aims to engender a small corner of the internet where play for the joy of playing is fostered.
Stuart Faulkner - 'Plato's Cave'
Stuart Faulkner's oeuvre stretches from live performances, to painting and installation. In every instance he is joyfully uncompromising in his investigation of human behavior, creating mood-altering work, which has been described by critics as “ Visual Prozac”. He paints to commission and is represented by the APG Gallery.
Stuart is originally from Scotland but trained as an artist at Sheffield Hallam University. Like many other British art school auteurs before him, it was here he also developed his musical creativity, forming the five-piece glam rock group Pink Grease with Nick Collier and Steve Santa Cruz. Mute Records signed the group in 2003 and they had a number of releases on the label. Described by The Guardian as ‘performance art riot ‘much of that ethos is sustained in Faulkner’s work today.
At Connect the Dots we were delighted to host his interpretation of one of the Greek philosopher’s great allegories ‘Plato’s Cave’ where Socrates describes a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave. The people watch shadows projected on the wall, and they begin to give names to these shadows. In the installation and performance ‘Plato’s Cave’ Faulkner will explore the situation of an individual freed from this context as he comes to terms with establishing the difference between illusion and reality and an accurate perception of the World around him.
Alongside the exhibition, there was also performances and workshops. Below is a short summary of the performances that took place.
Tim Shaw has worked internationally as a professional composer, performer, sound designer and researcher. His practice incorporates diverse approaches to sound capture and processing, and includes creating immersive and site responsive sonic installations. He is currently studying a PhD in Digital Media at Culture Lab and also manages Newcastle based record label Triptik.
Sébastien Piquemal is a computer engineer, obsessively exploring the artistic capabilities of machines. After working several years as a full time web developer in Helsinki, Finland, he decided to dedicate himself fully to making music. Since then, he has been an active contributor to the open-source software community, leading various projects such as WebPd.
Tim and Sébastien recently collaborated to create ‘Fields’, an interactive performance piece exploring the use of mobile technology as a medium for sound diffusion. Audience members can choose to join in with the performance using their own devices. Fields has been performed in America, Finland, Germany, Lisbon, Greece and throughout the UK.
Algorave x Computer Club
Algorave is an event where people dance to music generated from algorithms, often using live coding techniques. Invented by Alex McLean & Nick Collins, who coined the name as an abbreviation for "algorithmic rave. Using systems built for creating algorithmic music, such as IXI Lang, overtone, puredata, Max/MSP, SuperCollider, Impromptu, Fluxus and Tidal, these barriers are broken down, and musicians are able to compose and work live with their music as algorithms. This has good and bad sides, but a different approach leads to interesting places.
This is no new idea, but Algoraves focus on humans making and dancing to music. Algorave musicians don’t pretend their software is being creative, they take responsibility for the music they make, shaping it using whatever means they have. More importantly the focus is not on what the musician is doing, but on the music, and people dancing to it. Algoraves embrace the alien sounds of raves from the past, and introduce alien, futuristic rhythms and beats made through strange, algorithm-aided processes. It’s up to the good people on the dancefloor to help the musicians make sense of this and do the real creative work in making a great party.
Computer Club is a concept from the creative team of Nick Bax (Human (link is external)) and Chris Smith (CPU Records (link is external)) featuring contemporary electronic sounds and music from around the world. Starting as a club night in Sheffield in 2013, Computer Club has played host to artists such as The Black Dog, Matt Steel (SND), Japan's NHK Koyxen and French musician Poborsk, alongside residents Hanal and Sheffield Bleep. Expanding on the ethic of the live events, the Computer Club label launched late 2014 and has featured exclusive releases from Poborsk and Algorave supremo Yaxu (Alex McLean).
Together they collaborated and curated the opening party for Connect the Dots 2015, bringing Leafcutter John, Polinski (65 Days of Static), Shelly Knotts and Thor Magnussion alongside residents.
Christopher Rave ‘plays dancefloor-guided acid bombs, made live on requisite squelchy hardware.’ He uses a range of analogue synthesisers, drum machines and effects, recorded live through his mixer and with no computer in sight. This creates improvised and spontaneous music that fully embraces any mistakes that occur during the recording process. As Christopher describes, “While this may not make for perfect takes, I think it gives the music more feeling - generally panic, but often alongside other emotions”.
Saif Mode is the moniker of Ben Hunter. He improvises with modular synths to create dense sonic landscapes that are unique to each performance. This quote from Sheffield Anti Fascist Network is an accurate description; "Saif Mode marries meditative drones and techno improvisations, recalling the utopian dreams of the Atomic Age and the simple piety of the early church. Equally at home on bills with improvised analogue electronica and raw black metal"
For the closing party, Connect the Dots 2015 was signed off with a Lisbon meets Sheffield special. We welcomed Principe Discos mainstays DJ Marfox and DJ Firmeza for their Sheffield debut alongside Sheffield legends Winston Hazel and Pipes, as well as Bad Taste co-founder Lean Low.
We (DINA Magazine) celebrated our first anniversary in October 2015, so we’d like to thank everyone that has supported us so far. At a time where the world is more connected than ever, our aim is to share inspiring artistic practice and inventive application of technology by emerging artists from all over the world.
All photos by Tom Colvile