Dundee's NEoN Digital Arts festival develops movement theme for 2012

Dundee's NEoN Digital Arts festival develops movement theme for 2012

Among the artists exhibiting are Jaygo Bloom, Peter William Holden, Matthew Collings and Erik Parr

Four years ago, NEoN (North East of North) was launched by Interactive Tayside – a body created in partnership between the public, private and academic sectors in the city of Dundee – to promote the region’s activity in the field of digital media. Dundee, of course, has more to shout about than most in this regard, with both the University of Abertay and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design being renowned for their digital media education provision and the city playing host to many computer game development companies and cross-media design firms.

‘Rather than just hold some kind of business conference,’ says NEoN’s curator, Donna Holford-Lovell, ‘it was decided to create more of a celebratory event.’ What resulted was one filled with talks, performances and screenings aimed at those involved in media production, information technology and visual art, which has since expanded to a week-long festival featuring some specially-commissioned shows that blur the boundaries of the above areas.

‘The theme of this year is movement,’ says Holford-Lovell, ‘specifically movement between physical and virtual spaces.’ Highlights include ‘Bombase’, ten new pieces of work created by VJ and visual artist Jaygo Bloom, which will constitute a ‘visual gallery’ across the city. ‘It’ll be app-based,’ says Holford-Lovell, ‘so you search the city for augmented reality artworks through various scannable markers, which unlock the work.’ Also grabbing the attention is ‘SoleNoid’ by Peter William Holden, who builds ‘kinetic sculptures’ using everyday objects that are programmed to perform a choreographed routine, in this case using tap shoes built into one of the sculptures, which perform a rhythmic, choreographed piece to music.

Matthew Collings and Erik Parr’s ‘Heartbeater’ is an interactive audio-visual installation which, says Holford-Lovell, relates to ‘mindful movement and meditation’ – it’s a site-specific piece at the Nilupul Foundation, a Buddhist centre, and is based on game-control technology and software that reacts to the viewer/participant, performing sounds and images based on their bodily movements. Among other events, ‘100,000 Lux’ will also transform the exterior of the University of Abertay with LED lights and generative audio manipulated by data from the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory.

‘We’re pushing what goes on in Dundee that’s unique to the city, but we’re also pushing the fact that Scotland’s an all-round festival country,’ says Holford-Lovell, noting that NEoN is the first and so far only digital media and arts festival here. ‘It’s an area that’s growing,’ she continues, ‘because there are more and more artists, even fine artists, who are experimenting with digital technology within their own practice. Our aim is to highlight how far that stretches.’ Pointing out that NEoN has this year become a charity in its own right, and citing Austria’s Ars Electronica and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s AV Festival as examples, she says the possibility of expanding activities across Scotland and ultimately Europe is a very real option in future.

Various venues, Dundee, Sun 4–Sat 10 Nov.

NEoN Digital Arts Festival

Scotland's only international digital arts festival, which features moving image, performance, music and technology-driven arts across Dundee.