byob: the exhibition projecting digital art worldwide
i-D writer and Brainchild Festival art director, Lily Bonesso, discusses the perfect platform for digital art.
Digital art curators and makers, Sophie Rogers, Hannah Gill and I, are hosting a BYOB exhibition this Saturday. BYOB stands for Bring Your Own Beamer and the concept is simple; Artists are invited to bring projectors and show their work in a space. It's an open source project, which was founded by Rafaël Rozendaal in 2010. Anyone can host one, and it's almost entirely free. As a result, it has become a cult favourite with digital artists from Tokyo to Bogota and everywhere in between.
Being part of Brainchild Festival, an inclusive, grassroots project, we were very excited by the possibilities of this idea. It encourages a universal celebration of creativity, giving people a platform outside of major institutions. While we aim to do this with our festival, BYOB succeeds on a global scale. So, we posted an open invite to our network and found a number of inspiring video artists to exhibit.
The digital revolution levelled the playing field for artists through its accessibility and low costs and Rozendaal was hot to this from the start. The egalitarian platform of the internet was the perfect place for him to exhibit his early work; witty, clean pieces of code which mess with your mind and perceptions of space. But the question of how to share this kind of art in a physical space is something much explored, but rarely resolved.
If you're into exhibitions full of screens perhaps you think this isn't true, but I've always found this a bit of a clunky way to experience art. For me, Rozendaal resolved many of the issues I have with exhibiting this type of work. He opened it up, and he found the perfect medium to do this… the projector. As Rozendaal puts it; "A moving image is never an object, and when it is coupled with the increased flexibility of portable projection, the realm of experience quickly expands."
As a homage to the early dons of net.art and post-internet artists worldwide, Sophie, Hannah and I, have selected from the submissions around 20 tech-happy, synthetic commentaries on our digital era. This show is all about bright colours, animations and computer rendered alien bodies. We've got Hattie Ball's strange dream landscapes reminiscent of early nintendo games; A psychedelic stock motion animation by Josie Tucker; And Vasilisa Forbes' WAXCHICK series, which delves into advertising's distorted portrayal of women. See the event for the full list of artists. Each filmmaker looks into the beautiful, false reality of our digital world and dives right in, often imposing their own hand on the software to create something human despite it being coded in CMYK.
Joe Melhuish will be exhibiting a deadpan commentary on life in 2016: "Everything's different, and a bit weird, and that might just be awesome, or it might leave us all to the dogs. So, the film's about this girl's bedroom. She's into video games and TV adverts and obsessed with knives…"
Whilst Joe addresses the present, Rogers' piece, recently exhibited at the Barbican, is an insight into our future. The video is a study of science fiction novel, The Time Machine by H.G Wells, set in802,701AD. Descended from humans, the Eloi live only for playing games and lying in the sun. This life of luxury has left them inert and lethargic. A redundant species.
Gill's work turns in on itself, as she questions what a digital image really is. Using feedback between a camera and screen she creates an infinite image and then manipulates it manually by placing objects within the frame. Her work is a hypnotic reminder of the increasing "overlap between digital and physical space".
Dan Adeyemi's piece is a living website which basically creates poetry out of code. The webpage displays a constant flow of sentences exposing a lover's internal monologue. The sentences pass through an algorithmic process which generates different colours on the screen depending on whether the words are positive, negative or neutral.
Georgina Brinkman will also be showing her new video ant_colony_optimization. Inspired by an algorithm which simulates the behavioural patterns of ants, she draws parallels with our own culture: "There's something about the collective behaviour and long lines of communication of ants that makes me think about our human relationship with online worlds."
And we really are like ants. With almost every human connected through networks, the way ants are through pheromones. Despite living in an increasingly disconnected reality, the internet has formed a giant organism of humanity. And the small but global hubs of activity inspired by this, such as BYOB, feel like something worth being a part of.
Thanks to our partners Vermilion Hook we are able to exhibit at Platform in Southwark,6-10pm, Saturday March 19th. Entry is free with donations welcome. There will be DJ's and in the spirit of BYOB you can Bring Your Own Booze, too.