The Taipei Digital Art Festival (台北數位藝術節), now in its eighth year, brings together exhibitions, film screenings, performances and forums that cast a spotlight on the technologically-advanced art form that requires the vision of an artist as much as that of a software engineer.
This year’s theme is data-neurons. The festival examines how new media artists utilize data and computing to explore aesthetic and technological possibilities.
Chiu Chih-yung (邱誌勇), one of the festival’s curators, says that as digital technology has become a vital part of today’s society, we have come to rely heavily on computers to gain and process information, as well as tackle everything from daily chores to job tasks and schoolwork. He added that in recent years, the term “big data” has become ubiquitous, referring not to the concept of database we traditionally know, but the infinite interconnection among databases enabled by cloud computing.
“The idea of big data is not just about the effective control of data. It stresses the connection among databases through cloud computing … One question it raises is how we put massive, everyday information into application,” says Chiu, who is also a professor at Providence University’s Department of Mass Communication.
Possible answers lie in several works on display at the international Digital Art Exhibition. New York Talk Exchange, for example, is a project by Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that illustrates the daily life of New Yorkers by analyzing large volumes of long-distance telephone and IP data flowing between New York City and other metropolises around the world using data visualization.
WHAT: Digital Art Festival Taipei 2013 (第八屆台北數位藝術節)
WHEN: Today through Nov. 24
WHERE: Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (松山文創園區), 133 Guangfu S Rd, Taipei City (台北市光復南路133號)
TICKETS: NT$600 and NT$800 for the performances; free admission for exhibitions
ON THE NET: www.dac.tw/daf13
“We have recently seen lots of works like [MIT’s]. They all involve utilizing the massive quantity of data through data visualization in order to show the traces of our everyday life,” Chiu points out.
Voices of Aliveness by Japanese artist Masaki Fujihata invites participants to shout while riding a bicycle equipped with a recorder and video to vent their frustration. Their shouts and their bicycle trajectory are then converted to the shape of rings on a computer screen, forming a tower-like structure in cyberspace.
Chiu says that while the global trend for digital art tends toward complex projects that can’t exist without the participation of technical wizards and engineers, it has also increasingly turned hybrid and inter-disciplinary. One example is Reactor for Awareness in Motion, a research project initiated by Japan’s Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media in 2011 that aims to explore the possibility of interaction between dancers and technology.
Another crossover attempt is Threads, a performance art piece that is a collaboration between Grame — Centre National De Creation Musicale in Lyon, France and the Taipei Digital Art Center (台北數位藝術中心). The work combines different theatrical elements including dance, imagery and sounds created by French composer Roque Rivas, Berlin-based choreographer Sun Shang-chi (孫尚綺) and digital artist Yeh Ting-hao (葉廷皓).
The annual Taipei Digital Art Awards (台北數位藝術獎), meanwhile, recognizes and honors those working in Taiwan’s evolving digital field. This year, 12 works were nominated for the national competition. They were created by young artists who were “born and grew up in the digital era and to whom digital products are a part of life,” Chiu says. Most of the nominated works also utilize computing technologies to visualize data, showing that local digital creators are in tune with international trends.