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Vital noises: Dutch Electronic Art Festival 2012

Posted on: May 17, 2012

I will visit the Dutch Electronic Art Festival 2012 in Rotterdam this weekend, mainly the exhibition part. DEAF 2012 has official and “off site” exhibitions, both starting on May, 17.

According to the DEAF 2012 web site “the DEAF 2012 thematic exhibition will explore The Power of Things with numerous high-impact artworks from artists and designers from around the world. The DEAF 2012 exhibition features art works that are ‘relationally’ designed and works in which interaction, in whatever form, serves as the starting point for bringing art into being. The pieces are sometimes biological in nature, sometimes technological, and often a mix of the two”.

By this “Power of Things” mentioned above is meant:

In our daily lives, nonliving matter plays a crucial role in nearly everything we do, often beyond our immediate control. For example, the food we eat influences our mood and behavior; the technologies we use shape our social interactions; and climate impacts on our daily rhythms. On a more global level, modern material science, recent natural disasters and the current state of the global environment also indicate that the causal power of nonliving matter can no longer be denied. Acknowledging this ‘Power of Things’ not only provides new insights into many phenomena, but also changes the way we relate to the world, as we step away from our contemporary, arguably hazardous, human centered worldview. With The Power of Things as its theme, this edition of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival explores a radically different worldview: one that breaks down the categorical distinction between the living and the nonliving and attributes a vital force to both.

The theory that there is a vital force within nonliving matter has appeared at various points in history, but the idea that matter has causality and agency seems to be becoming more widespread than ever at present. “Vitalist” philosophies and materialist approaches are flourishing in philosophy and science. But art is the field where material causality exerts its strongest force. As every artist knows, the outcome of an artistic process is largely determined by the materials used. While scientific experimentation predominantly aims for a better understanding of what matter is, art explores what matter does. Knowing what matter does contributes to a greater knowledge of how things – whether foodstuffs, commodities or something else – act and what their particular propensities or tendencies are. Recognizing the power of things could even reveal how seemingly passive things have crucial impacts on social issues, political affairs and environmental problems. By embodying it in tangible works, art helps us to acknowledge this power.

It sounds promising. As usual WORM is also involved too, this year by providing a live DEAF 2012 hackspace. Check it out if you are interested in ground breaking electronic media art.

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