The FOLDBACK event, ANAT’s contribution to the Telstra Adelaide Festival, provided ANAT with an remarkable forum to pay tribute to some of the artists and personalities who have contributed so vividly to ANAT’s identity over our initial ten years. As one of few events in this year’s Telstra Adelaide Festival which tackled the nexus between technology and art, ANAT’s FOLDBACK project, was an important and popular aspect of the Festival. FOLDBACK was structured in four parts; the forum which took place at Ngapartji Multimedia Centre; the exhibition which was installed at Ngapartji throughout Artists’Week during the Festival; the satellite events which profiled contemporary sound artists and electronic musicians; and the national tour by Mark Amerika.
Intended as both a celebration of ANAT’s tenth anniversary and as an opportunity to interrogate some of the central issues in new media art, FOLDBACK transformed a packed Ngapartji Multimedia Centre into a hive of discussion, digital creativity and info-exchange. The event focused primarily on artists working with text and sound in digital environments and featured real-time performances by flesh and data bodies.
The event utilised various media – CDROM, the internet, video projection and quadraphonic audio – to bring together a range of participants from some of ANAT’s most successful projects, who continue to pioneer developments in cross-disciplinary art. The meld of media during the day kept the audience engaged, and efficient staging meant the event remained on schedule throughout.
Introductions by Richard Grayson (then director of the Experimental Art Foundation, longtime friend and former board member of ANAT), and Paul Brown (incumbent Chair of ANAT) historically contextualised the event, with anecdotes about early experiences of technology based art and speculations on reasons for the historical marginalisation of this area of practice.
Dialogues between written and performed texts formed the basis of provocative presentations and performances by Francesca da Rimini and keynote speaker Mark Amerika, before the interactivity of the contemporary written word was demonstrated by Electronic Writing Research Ensemble collaborators, Linda Marie Walker and Teri Hoskin, convening a live online discussion between Linda Carroli in Brisbane and Josephine Wilson in Perth. In a confronting and stirring presentation, Linda Dement traced the origins of her expressions of the ‘monstrous feminine’ in macabre and comic digital worlds. Recounting her evolution from photographer to interactive artist (enriched by her attendance at ANAT’s National Summer School), Dement also elaborated on deeply personal explorations of repression, abuse and violence which injected elements of desire and pain into the narrative of the forum.
A politically engaged performance by cyberpoet Komninos moved the forum’s examination of language through comedic animated depictions of linguistic evolution and geographical location. Artists collective nervous_objects mused on the idiosyncrasies of communications technologies and the enigmatic space between technological foible and fetish, before joining Stevie Wishart in a collaborative abstract soundscape, fusing skittish telexed textures with the eerie harmony of Wishart’s hurdy-gurdy.
After further comments and discussion, the forum closed with complex electronic sound and breakbeat rhizomatics,courtesy of Zonar Recordings’ Flux, Low Key Operations and Synchro:mesch. We are confident that its success will give rise to an increased amount of work in this area in Robyn Archer’s 2000 Adelaide Festival.
To compliment the forum, an exhibition interface was developed by Adelaide based designers inSECT22, who explore the grey area between art, technology, minds and machines. The exhibition was on display at Ngapartji during the forum and will continue through Artists’ Week. Digi-artefacts, online manifestations and hard copy works included: CDROMs: Linda Dement, Cyberflesh Girlmonster, Brad Miller and McKenzie Wark, Planet of Noise-, Mindflux,/W/ndViVus 3.7; John Collette, 30 Words for the City; Komninos Zervos, underground cyberpoetry; MAT, National Summer School compilation Web Work: Agent All Black, liftjworld; Lloyd Sharp, Fun With Fluids; Urban Exile, Tool; System X.Soundsite; Josephine Wilson & Linda Carroli, ‘water always writes in ‘plural; Mark Amerika, GRAMMATRON; nervous_objects, Lingua Elettrica; Ceekgirl, gee kg irl; Damon Moon and Steven Coldgate, Imagined Landscapes.
Sound Lounge: Panos Couros & Wayne Stamp, a noise of worms; mesm.eon 57.30, StevieWishart, Wish; Zonar Recordings, Dislocations; Michael Grimm, Soundtrack for an Empty Dollspace. Video Wall: Isabelle Delmotte, Epileptograph.
Josephine Wilson talked about her online collaboration with Linda Carroli in the ‘water always writes in ‘plural project. Linda Carroli participated in the Brisbane manifestation of the FOLDBACK event, providing her perspective on this collaboration. In Sydney, Amerika was joined by Brendan Palmer of the Zonar recording label. Palmer, who performed at the FOLDBACK forum in Adelaide, worked with Amerika rather than alongside him to develop a holistic sound and text event.
This combination of sound and text as part of a performance/ presentation has been continued in future collaborations, as Amerika left Australia enriched by his experiences working with Australian artists.
The success of the event also inspired ANAT to undertake a touring exhibition of the project to selected galleries around Australia in 1999.
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