An international festival based on keywords like sound art, net art, robotics, generative systems and other wonders from the digital world opened on 15 September at the National Art Gallery. DA Fest has for the fifth time gathered together internationally-acclaimed artists to feature contemporary trends, research and technology in digital art.
“These are established practices and genres in art that had their beginnings back in 1960s”, says Venelin Shurelov, one of the program's curators. “They however have been a bit slow arriving to Bulgaria and that is why we see them as avant-garde, as both art expression and experience of viewers. Practices mostly include the use of technological devices aiding the artist to recreate his idea and acting as a partner in his expression and in his communication with the audience. In this case the audience prefers communication with devices linked to programming, with control over the flow of information and its interpretation by computers. So, the presentation of an amalgamation of information flows, visual and sound environments coupled with various messages, produces works of art with a complex structure.”
DA Fest's program consists of exhibitions, multimedia performances and installations, screenings and workshops. For this year's edition Sofia has welcomed participants from Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Singapore, France and Canada. The educational component of the 5-day festival is key, as artists not just displaying their works, but also verbalizing them to students in master classes and workshops. The nights have been reserved to music events.
Light Parasites is one of the festival's most intriguing projects. The German RaumZeitPiraten group demonstrates how various types of lamps and illumination can be transformed into screening devices with the help of second-hand laboratory equipment. The Düsseldorf group say their work is post-digital meaning it shows a mix of analogue technology and digital processes, Velelin Shurelov explains. He gives us other highlights in DA Fest.
“A Sound Improvisation with Electricity is a project by Natalia Petkova who lives in Canada. As performer on stage she is impressive with the way she combines the use of her own body with the use of various equipment. Apart from the performance, she shares her experience in a dedicated workshop as well. Swiss brother artists with the pseudonym Cod.Act present the installation Nyloid.”
Digital and conventional art are no antagonists. In fact, processes of exchange are underway between them all the time. The festival's curator tells us that he is from the generation with one foot set in traditional art and the other - in digital art, while younger people already show a dramatic difference in this regard. The exchange involves meanings, techniques, practices and various content.
“I do not see anything like a battlefield that these two kinds of art try to parcel out. At the end of the day, the artist is not a slave to his means of expression - he uses them as a mediator; uses their language and characteristics. And given that technology is a very active and vital part of our lives, artists cannot but resort to them so as to add adequacy to communication with people.”
English Daniela Konstantinova