Ok, so 8=8 has returned back from Nantes. Ooops! That was a mistake! Scopitone is one of those amateurist multimedia festivals I have been complaining about recently. Actually, the festival is broken into two, with the whimpy multimedia selection during the day coupled with a brilliant and adventerous musical lineup at night. So it’s basically one of the best French festivals for electronic music with one of the crappiest non-selections of multimedia art. I don’t know what went wrong, but after five years you either have it or you don’t. If this year is any indication, they definitely have it all wrong and need a serious reboot. In typical fashion, yet again all the multimedia artists got squashed in the planning by by the disproportionate focus on (big name) musical acts. And of course, in spite of the fact that 8=8 is a musical performance guess where we were stuck performing? Sigh
Despite extremely poor conditions, we actually rocked the house. Don’t just take my word for it. Yeasterday, Marie Lechner wrote on 8=8’s performance in Libération and seemed quite happy with us. You can read the original article here: Nantes bombardé d’électro. Here is an excerpt of the part about us:
“Mécaniques infernales. On aurait aimé voir dans le [Scopitone Soir] 8 = 8, un dispositif où sons et images sont générés simultanément par simple déplacement des mains au-dessus d'une table basse. Pour découvrir l'instrument audiovisuel imaginé par Douglas Edric Stanley, il fallait se rendre aux Ateliers et Chantiers de Nantes qui accueillent le Scopitone «jour» et son lot d'ateliers et d'installations interactives. Assis autour de cette hypertable, avec trois autres performeurs (TM, Nao, JankenPopp), ils activent des univers punkoïdes, entre Donkey-Kong distordu, match de foot abstrait, arc-en-ciel déviant et mécaniques infernales.”
As Marie mentions in her article, we would have been better served as simply one of the opening acts for the nighttime concerts (more on that later). 8=8 was designed for a concert setting, although off the main stage. It was not designed as an installation, we already know how to do that, thank you very much. Despite our protests, the festival director begged us to present 8=8 as a daytime installation + performance, claiming that there wasn’t really anywhere for 8=8 to perform in the evening setting. But once we actually got on-site we realized how much we had been screwed, as there were several places/times we would have fit in fine. A truly shameful lie, especially considering he was with me in Marseille when I — sucessfully, albeit with much difficulty — fought against the tendencies a previous music festival had of treating multimedia performances as nothing more than an entertaining sideshow.
To further add insult to injury, the sound system sucked — really sucked — as did the acoustics, whereas at the night setting the sound was f§@#&?! brilliant.
Want the real story? In reality — according to a local — there wasn’t enough peanut gallery material to amuse the public and justify public funding, so 8=8 got sacrificed as a pleasant curiosity for your afternoon stroll. It’s true, 8=8 is fun for the public, but if we wanted to design it as an installation we would have designed it very differently. Ho hum there we are yet again distracting the public with amusing gadgets you can fiddle with. We really have to stop this dangerous cycle, it’s making us look like idiots...
If I could make a public plea to Scopitone: do what you do best — music — and just drop the multimedia part all together. That, or be more honest with your artists. Slapping together a couple minor installations with little to no means, and even worse no curatorial vision, just gives digital arts a bad name. The scary part is that they are currently renovating a former warehouse to make room for a permanent cultural center dedicated to multimedia art. Yikes! They better get a serious artistic director, and quick. It would be even better if they found someone who has travelled beyond the infamous invisible wall that protected France from Chernobyl.
That said, the public was very enthusiastic, and 8=8 actually started feeling more and more like a real group. I think we could actually do something with this ragtag band. I had fun spending time with my fellow performers, but I know it’s a pleasant illusion, and that I’ll always be the old professor who will eventually have to be carted back into his study. In the end, we knew that we would have a good response, hence our willingness to bore the weight of shitty conditions: ultimately we do enjoy meeting cool people and playing our programs for/with them. And for that, at least, the trip was a success — cheers to all the enthusiastic people we met, by the way...
Here are some photos of that “Punkoid universe, between distorted Donkey Kong, abstract football, deviant rainbows and infernal machines,” Marie described so well. All the photos were taken by Thomas or else by some intoxicated stranger ressembling one of the members of 8=8.