For the digital art enthusiasts out there, Singapore receives this week the first edition of the Betwixt Festival, Art & Bytes. The festival is a homegrown effort of Spang&Lei artist collective to not only exhibit the works of local digital artists but also to nurture collaborations and promote the dialogue between artists from different backgrounds and nationalities and the public. Spang&Lei is Serena Pang and Wen Lei and their work seeks to explore interdisciplinary collaborations mediated through art, performance and technology.
About the Festival’s unusual name, the founders explain: ‘It was a struggle to name a festival that straddles two communities (both art and tech). We (Spang&Lei) kept searching for a word that would embody the cross-fertilisation and the “neither strictly here nor there” quality of our festival. We finally settled on Betwixt, an archaic term describing “in-between”. Digital technology often gets conflated with the future and futurity itself, we opted for Betwixt because it was such a long-forgotten word describing “in-betweenness”.’
Despite its curious name, the theme this year is Interstice as the festival itself tries to fill in the gap of a more comprehensive platform to showcase digital art and discuss its role as a medium to portray smart technologies, while reflecting on ways to interact with the public through art and technology. The festival has the ArtScience Museum as one of its main locations while also having part of its events happening at IDA Labs @NDC, Objectifs and Sunshine Plaza. Through its program, the festival somehow tries to cover the past, present and future of digital arts. In the past, although not that long time ago, it brings the screening of a documentary about Lilian Schwarz, pioneer of digital arts who was the first artist working in digital media to have her work acquired by the MoMA.
In the present, we can say that contemporary local and international artists will present their works and also discuss it with the audience. Good examples of that are the talks with artists, which includes the ones that will happen this Saturday. Vibeke Sorensen is Professor and Chair of the School of Art, Design and Media at NTU and as an artist, composer and scholar she will open the dialogue in her keynote lecture talking about Beyond the Gap, a look toward the future. On the same day, a panel that covers the interesting and often underrated gap related to Women, Art & Technology will be followed by a discussion about Digital Art in Southeast Asia. The Austrian artist Lia will showcase her work Arcs21 throughout the festival, with a special conversation about her work taking place on Sunday and presented by the directors of the festival Spang&Lei.
As future, we can say it is represented by the selected works of Ping Yi Secondary School students exhibited in the Fun with Art & Bytes (FAB) session at the ArtScience Museum. Also exhibited in the museum’s Inspiration and Curiosity Galleries are the interactive works #dataselfieme, Homosonus, Memory Repository, Metron and Before I Met You. Other installations and performances will be seen throughout the festival and promise to help you see things from a different perspective.Although some performances may be thought as weird and obscure at a glance, like the P.P.M. [Puzzled.Processed.Meshed] by Otto Krause and Milan Loviska. They also represent a substantial effort towards the exploration and understanding of the limits and boundaries between human-technology relationships. So, stay connected with what is happening in the digital art world and check which are the gaps and predictions of this contemporary form of artistic expression.
Betwixt Festival 2016
25 February to 1st March
Museum of Art and Science and other locations
The Festival program can be accessed here: http://2016.betwixtfestival.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/betwixt2016_festival_guide.pdf
Christine Veras is a maker who enjoys experiencing and creating art, devices and texts. She is currently pursuing her PhD on ‘Animated Installations’ at the School of Art, Design and Media in NTU.