What VIA and the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) offered to Pittsburgh, PA, last Saturday can best be described as the "real deal": for one night, the local creative community got together for #NOWSEETHIS, a killer new media art celebration that took over the CMOA. Of course, The Creators Project made our way to Pittsburgh for the occasion.
“We think it's essential for large institutions and groups like VIA to collaborate with one another in order to expand what they both can be to artists and the public, and also to survive,” Lauren Goshinski and Quinn Leonowicz, co-curators and co-directors of VIA explained to The Creators Project. "It's a tall order when the biggest museum in your city invites you to create something that enhances their initiatives.”
Founded by the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the largest art institution in the city called on the emerging practice-focused VIA collective to curate the digital festivities in honor of the first year of the Hillman Photography Initiative, a cutting-edge reflection and exploration program surrounding photography in the digital era.
"Carnegie Museum of Art has been engaged with contemporary art from its founding to today. The Hillman Photography Initiative looks not only to contemporary photography, but to new directions and innovations in the medium," Jonathan Gaugler, media relations manager at the CMOA tells The Creators Project. "We've been investigating this for a year now over at nowseethis.org, and the party was a chance to celebrate those achievements through the kinds of photographic technologies that have caught our interest."
This smart collaboration was a tour de force, showcasing new and emergent practices through the institutional lens, a well-curated roster of young artists captivating an heterogeneous audience thanks to large-scale digital delights. Live musical performances by emerging musicians including LA-based vocalist and songwriter Kelela, Danish singer and producer Dinner, and the VOGUE-proclamed "Star of the 2015 new Museum Triennial," Juliana Huxtable offered hours of ear-candy while 3D scan-generated projections by the Berlin-based duo, Pussykrew, and disorienting digital environments by Kevin Ramser led the audience through a mesmerizing and powerful visual journey.
“We chose projects and created an approach to live visuals that unpacked photography in ways that could allow the audience to reflect on their own body's relationship to and merger with the digital image,” explain Goshinski and Leonowicz. “There was subtext to some booking decisions, for example, Juliana & Antoine Catala (exhibiting simultaneously with the CMOA) being linked through the Triennial, with Distant Feel also included in our event. Musically and artistically, inviting Juliana seemed like a natural thing to do. For us Juliana, Kelela and Dinner were not only an amazing fit musically, but also for their identities as performers that are very much tied to visual images,” they add.
Just a few feet away, attendees were able to take a break from the music to try out interactive and participatory activities while keeping a vigilant eye on the stage. While brothers Tad & Rollin Leonard presented Crash Kiss, a unique Python-programmed photo-booth whose algorithms generated uncanny digitalized face-crashed printable portraits, Claire Hentschker, Kevin Brophy, Danni Zhang, and Kevin Ramser's custom app Augmentats offered an augmented-reality temporary tattoo experience. One thing was certain: #NOWSEETHIS had something for everyone.
While we await the week-long VIA Festival in October, check out some highlights from the evening: