A lot of websites and magazines have technology and creative digital media as the forefront of their coverage. I never really got it before, until visiting Resonate festival in Belgrade last week when suddenly it dawned on me: turns out technology really is the future. Whoops!
The festival, set over four days in the buzzing Serbian city aims to champion “knowledge sharing and education” whilst bringing together “artists, designers and educators to participate in a forward-looking debate on the position of technology in art and culture.” Past speakers have included Nicholas Feltron, Pantha du Prince, James Bridle and even Kim Gordon (is there anything she doesn’t do?) and this year’s line-up was equally as stellar.
On the first day the main campus of the festival – a beautiful, light-filled white space called Kinoteka – was dedicated solely to workshops. By midday the building was full of people crowded around intense, wire-tangled tables or hunched over laptops deep in conversation. Most of the workshops required participants to be skilled in high levels of coding, editing and online data and were hosted by creative tech-pioneers such as Kimchi and Chips, onedotzero and Karsten Schmidt. We were lucky enough to snag a couple of places on the incredible Moniker “portrait machine” workshop which involved putting to use their strict studio regime of “conditional design” and spending time drawing over live films of Resonate-goer’s faces according to rules invented by team members.
Over the next few days the organisers had planned numerous talks set over a handful of venues in a small area of the city. From cushion-strewn, high-ceilinged rooms to old converted chapels and Wes Anderson-esque concert halls, the settings for the talks were spectacular. In these pretty epic spaces we saw talks from digital greats such as Daito Manabe – the man who famously connected the nerves in his face to a computer with spectacular results – and Ilona Gaynor who casually told us about her time spent in the US working out a way of getting into the LA Police Academy. No big deal!
Other notable talks included one from That Game Company, the genii behind much-loved PS3 game Journey, in which players trek across a vast desert with other online players in a bid to reach the top of a mountain. The collective pride themselves on the accessibility of their games and have developed games that can be played so simply that they are 100% accessible by those who are disabled. The final talk, something of a headline act, was from Google wunderkind Aaron Koblin. Aaron blew us away with his insight into the incredibly clever work he has done for the Johnny Cash Project, Arcade Fire and Google in what was probably one of the best and most cohesive talks we had ever seen.
A lot of meat-based dinners, pulsating brains and cheap beers later we left for England slightly sleepy, but entirely more aware than ever of the kinds of people who are shaping the future of art through digital, creative technology. See you there in 2015.
To read even more about what happened at Resonate 2014, head over to the wonderful, thorough www.resonate2014.tumblr.com for the digital team at Dalziel and Pow’s take on the festival.