Inspirational trip to Bergen, Norway

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It is not only Helsinki we have had the opportunity to visit the past months. Thanks to a grant from the Nordic Culture Point we were able to visit Bergen in Norway for a week. In short was the goal of the visit to network and achieve knowledge on how to work more professional with experimental music and sound art.

Bergen is a beautiful city on the west coast of Norway, framed by mountains and on the rim of the fjords. It has an inspiring culture life and most prominent is the artists, academy and organizations who works with electronic art and music.

In Bergen we visited Østre a fabulous house that are focused on experimental music and sound based art practices. The house opened in 2012 as collaboration between Ekko and Lydgalleriet. Today they host concerts, exhibitions and art installations.  Østre still work in close collaboration with, and are home to, Lydgalleriet and Ekko, both of which we also got to meet.

Lydgalleriet is an artist run and experimental gallery for sound based art practices. Ekko is a non-profit organization working with experimental and electronic music. To us the organization is most well known for their festival of experimental and electronic music that takes place in the autumn each year. Great meeting with Østre’s CEO/manager, Inga Danielsen, the gallery director, Mei Szetu, at Lydgalleriet and the artistic director of the Ekko Festival, Asle Bakke Brodin. If you are in Bergen these places are treasures that you should visit.

We also got to meet Marieke Verbiesen at BEK, Bergen Center for Electronic Arts, a brilliant artist who works transmedial with web, animation and motion design in the field of electronic art. Strongly recommend visiting her webpage and checking out her work.

A meeting with Professor Scott Rettberg at the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies at Bergen University gave a useful insight into the area of digital culture as well as his and his colleagues work with The ELMCIP Knowledge Base. ELMCIP is a fantastic initiative and a solid resource that can be used in a multitude of ways. Scott Rettberg’s own artistic work, that we got to talk a bit about, are truly inspiring as they take a stand in the current society and use human interaction in a literate way.

To summarize all the input, the inspiration and the thoughts that the stay in Bergen has evoked is hard. We realize that we need to focus on the parts that are important, put up some boarders and do our thing so to say. But also, and most important, keep our goals and not lowering them, stay true to our dream and visions.




The Lux festival in Helsinki

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In January we visited the Lux-festival in Helsinki, Finland. It was a magic trip, ice-cold weather, lots of friendly people and inspiring artwork. The Lux-festival is a festival that centers on light and it’s forerunner The Valon Voimat (Forces of Light) was one of Europe’s first fire and light festival and started out in 1995. The first Lux festival was held in 2012.

We were able to do the trip and visit the festival during three days thanks to a grant from Kulturfonden Sverige Finland.

Lux was a true inspiration and all the information that we got from talking to artists is going to be of use in our future work with CoScene and our artistic artwork. The range of input is from tech to use of mix media to artistic interpretation plus visiting a city were a huge number of people happily walk around outdoors in heavy snowfall and minus 26 degrees Celsius was a wonderful kick.

Most of the artworks were great but a couple of them touched our hearts and mind a bit more than others, they were:

Kai van der Puij’s 11.5 Hz, that was exhibited at the Ateneum Art Museum and is described in the program as follows: “11.5 Hz is a study of how to create a variety of light-based shapes by turning a skipping rope. Onlookers will be bewildered by the moving chord of light and the two balls of light it draws in the air. The fibre-optic cable will be spun by an electric motor, whose speed is adjusted by a frequency converter. The shape created will depend on the rotation speed. The frequency selected for this work is 11.5 hertz, which corresponds to a rotational speed of 345 revolutions per minute.”

The brilliance of his work was that it was both a visual and an audial piece and it was on the brink to being hypnotic. Added to this is the mathematical approach that the artwork takes and how this is transformed into something that you can be happy just watching with or without thinking of its theoretical background.

Nathalie Chambart’s Nowhere that was perfectly placed at the Erottaja Pavilion. We sat down at a bench at the nearby bus stop watching it change and discussing how the play with words is both thought provoking and funny. Her work was described in the program as follows:

“Nowhere tries to imagine somewhere, a place we can’t touch but can feel.
Nowhere can take us anywhere. It refers to a possibility, a utopia.
Nowhere is a location that makes fun of itself.
Nowhere is hidden but still very much there.
Nowhere talks about what we can’t see.
The word “nowhere” has a different meaning for everyone. It is both a question and an answer in itself. In the middle of nowhere, where there is always something.
The work is inspired by long car drives on the back seat of your parents’ car, passing the lights of cheap motels, the red light district and late night movie theatres. Nowhere speaks of melancholy but at the same time of hope.
The bulbs are similar to the traditional, incandescent bulbs used by the fairs that pass through Belgium every year. They remind us of a time and place to which we cannot return even if we want to.”

On of the evenings there was a “cold-fog” and that day Kari Kola’s Color Park in the Old Church Park was extra magical. The artwork is described as follows in the program: “Color Park aims to get visitors playing with light. The work is inspired by colours, resulting in a powerful visual experience. Its calm tempo contrasts with the hectic pace of life. The feeling of peace creates an almost meditative atmosphere in which the audience can focus on experiencing and exploring light. At several interactive points, visitors can use motion and proximity sensors to change the colour of the work. Also the Old Church will become a part of the installation.”

This was one of the artworks that we visited several times both for our own fun and in order to watch people interact with it. There were several interesting aspects of the artwork such as how it used the visitors’ movement to trigger and change the light and the way it’s placement in the park was perfectly interacting with the surroundings.

Another artwork that had a clear interactive focus was Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett’s CLOUD placed in a street crossing, the crossing between Annankatu and Kalevankatu. It was described in the program as follows: “CLOUD is an interactive sculpture created from six thousand incandescent light bulbs. The raindrops hanging from the light-bulb cloud are pull-chain switches which visitors can use to switch the bulbs off and on. This joyful and playful work is sure to put smiles on people’s faces. The light bulbs used were collected from ordinary residents in the Canadian artists’ neighbourhood. Active participation by the public is an important element in the work: for example, audiences have created an effect resembling lightning in the cloud by pulling several switches simultaneously. The work has gained new meaning at a time when incandescent light bulbs have been abandoned in the European Union and a number of other countries. Where are we going next? CLOUD relies on universal imagery which is understood around the world. Rain clouds are familiar to everyone, regardless of language barriers, cultural differences and geographical distances.”

To watch people interact was fun, everyone seemed to have a great time and lots of smiles were seen. The artwork and the thought behind it was very clever and hopefully more than us was touched by it. The way it interacted was simple and tactile and very easy to understand.

At present these four artworks are lingering in our thoughts and the pictures show some of the others. Now we will concentrate on how light can be better incorporated in CoScene and to build on the contacts that we made in Helsinki.

A huge thank to Kulturfonden Sverige Finland for your support.