EDITO #87

VIDEOFORMES 2015 – 30th Digital Arts International Festival
From March 18th to April 4th – Clermont-Ferrand

A 30th edition, like a manifesto

Urged to make budget cuts in cultural programs in order to support the war effort, Churchill was said to have replied: “Then why are we fighting?” Internet prank, the rumor questions.

30 years, no small matter!

It’s a choice, an initiative, a desire that has been validated, comforted with time.

And passed on. On the ground, helped by proximity, action then experience have been shared, solicited and also supported, questioned, encouraged… On the national and international stage, it was ironically easier to attract the attention of renowned artists and the youngest generation. The role of “mentoring” that some carried out, Nam June Paik, bonds of friendship with Gary Hill, Bill Viola, John Sanborn, Steina Vasulka were enough to establish the good reputation of an event that took care to present the artists it supported and to welcome everyone: professionals, the “general public”, young audiences.

It wasn’t easy to convince the cultural policymakers at all levels, but the role played by VIDEOFORMES on these stages ended up persuading them, also helped by the advent of an art, video art, institutionalized in educational programs; and as for digital art, the wave has pushed on and questioned everyone. The motto? Think global, act local! And it worked.

Even if we are by nature and mission disposed to observe and anticipate the future of contemporary art creation, the numbers call out to us. And if we start to measure the progress, visit the archives,… and be astonished once again: the first exchanges of images on a network (1989, la Pomme sur le Dôme) long before Internet (Transpac), the first collaborative experiments (1998, the Forum des Désirs by Ghislaine Gohard, with Tamara Laï, Guy Naouec …); an experimental social network (the Digital Club) long before the arrival of Facebook and others…; a quarterly review Turbulences Vidéo, today in digital form; an art gallery of time (Chapelle de l’Oratoire), a place for experiments and collaborations with artists as well as territorial and international partners; digital archives that make up year after year a heritage of mostly independent creations; a program of residences between local artists and the rest of the world; a commitment to teach images with original proposals for young people; and… and… too many things, too many adventures to list them all here comprehensively.

The proposals for this thirtieth edition will remain faithful to the original idea: explore, observe, choose, produce (sometimes), make the link between the works and the audience notably by inviting artists who make a mark on this fast-expanding artistic field, facilitate questions and debates in panel discussions.

From its origins, video art experimented and developed many artistic forms: installations, happenings, performances, network art… and little by little it surrounded, like a virus, the traditional fields: dance, theater, poetry, literature without mentioning cinema and television. The digital “revolution” amplified in an exponential way the hybridization of artistic fields, writings and works produced for more than a decade.

If the approximately 68 videos in competition encapsulate the current production, the emphasis will be put on a collection of performances, whether it be for the Night of Electronic Arts (XVIIth edition) or for a special evening in which a large part is devoted to collaborative experimentation, for images as well as for sound creation.

Many productions will make their world première in Clermont-Ferrand: John Sanborn and his mega installation V+M that deals with what troubles our world, love and war, José Manlius and his sensorial propositions, Vessels by Gregory Robin and Annabelle Playe (artists in residence).

And if we had to prove that contemporary artists are on the same wavelength with their times, the philosophical and societal dimension of the work by Gérard Chauvin and Lanah Shaï questions genre and identity.

On her own, Catherine Ikam could represent the spirit of this 30th edition: her work Faces, co-signed with Louis Fléri, is the picture of current research in immersive and interactive works and her other piece, Digital Diaries, a three-dimensional work, sums up with its view of the last 30 years from the dawn of video art on the public stage. What should leave a mark is likely the emphasis on performances in all genres, the beginning of a collaboration-exchange with Transcultures that will lead us to participate in the program of Mons Capital European of Culture with Transnumériques in November and the Grand BYOP (Bring Your Own Projector), the manifesto in images and sounds of the dynamic and creativity of actors present in our area.

Loïez Déniel & Gabriel Soucheyre

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