Resensitizing

Are our eyes just as oversensitized — or desensitized — as our ears? Artists in a Hong Festival rediscover what senses mean, above.

New York City, despite its reputation, is actually a pretty peaceful place to live in a lot of ways. Most visitors here never make it out of Times Square, though even that experience to me is more Vegas than Blade Runner. But even here, the days of electronic synesthesia as something alien are over. It’s a far cry from the 1960s, when, even if they were only slightly drugged up, audiences would actually begin to believe light shows and synths were an alien invasion. Today, even people on an acid trip are jaded.

So I found this quote interesting, from Rhizome, in regards to Hong Kong’s decade-old new media bash, the Microwave International Arts Festival:

In inspecting our flashing city that is Hong Kong, sound, light, and images are constantly coming at us from all directions, collectively attacking our senses…

[the festival will resurrect] the pleasure elicited by the audio-visual interactions will help visitors recover the fascinations in our daily lives that have so been overwhelmed and numbed.

It’s an interesting thought, and I think says a lot about where performance may be headed. I got to see Simian Mobile Disco last month, and they were able to run a near-blinding light show, synced to the beat. People loved it, mostly, but even there, the effect was wearing off, and I actually heard some complaints. (Not from me. I never get tired of overstimulation.)

What I came away with, though, was that there’s a real opportunity to make the sensory in digital art something very different. I think the initial birthing of digital art and media art may finally be concluding, and we can begin to aim for something approaching maturity. (The fact that various entities are now preoccupied with writing histories is a good sign: the artists can get on with doing something new.)

If you are in Hong Kong (and if you aren’t, schedule that layover between LA and Singapore), the festival looks great. A nice mix of electronic music and digital motion. Hmmm… digital music and digital motion? But will it work?

Rhizome News: Resensitizng to Light, Image, and Sound

  • http://danwinckler.com Dan Winckler

    "Are fish bombarded by water?" – Dominic Pettman (blackjelly.com)

    That aside, I resonate with your main point — I really like that digital art is expanding beyond rectangular screens and vision-domination.