Interviews

David Fodel and Janet Feder on Curating BMoCA's MediaLive 2014

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Westword: What do you have going on this year's MediaLive? David Fodel: I think for us the biggest thing is we're bringing the Light Surgeons -- at least it's a big deal for me. Really, all of the stuff this year is pretty impressive. I'm most excited about the Light Surgeons. They're going to playing on Saturday night at the ATLAS. These guys have been doing I guess what you would call audio-visual theater for probably a decade or more now. They have one of the tightest productions that I have ever seen.

So, for this configuration, two of the guys are coming in from London and then they have a world-class musician that they have been collaborating with on this project coming in from Malaysia. The work was actually commissioned by the British Arts Council and it's basically about the culture, or cultures, of Malaysia. So they come at it from a really interesting perspective and, like I said, it's very theatrical. It incorporates some standard things that you would expect in theater in terms of lighting and tight production, but it's also kind of a DJ/VJ setup with shadow play, live musicians, all sorts of props, and they're mixing and playing the music live, mixing and playing the video live, moving around on stage, multi-layers of screens and scrims. It's really just fantastic. I had a chance to see it at another venue earlier this year. I've been following these guys' work since 2008, and I'm just really thrilled to be able to bring them.

Janet Feder: Wasn't that the Currents Festival where you saw them?

David Fodel: Yeah, I saw them at Currents in Santa Fe.

Janet Feder: Santa Fe has this wonderful festival called Currents. It's the second year that we've had performers that have made it all the way to Santa Fe but not quite here. This is a really big festival performance. This isn't like a little Boulder performance. This is international status performance.

David Fodel: It's our third year and I think this year, really for the first time we're getting...not only is the museum really realizing what they have on their hands but some of the other institutions that we've been really hoping to kind of force these partnerships with. It's the second year we're working with UC Boulder by using the ATLAS Institute and using the Black Box Theater for some of the larger, more involved productions. We hope to keep building that. We've gotten interest in the city of Boulder's arts commissions and the library, which is a big supporter of a lot of the cultural stuff that happens in Boulder. We already have some stuff sort of in the kitty for next year. So it's feeling like we're kind of established and people are making note. I'm really excited about that as well.

Janet Feder: We pull off in three days what larger festivals pull off in a week to three weeks or a festival. We sort of confine it into this three-day festival period. It's brilliant. Like if somebody set aside those three days and came to everything from start to finish. it would be everything amazing, everything of extraordinary quality from start to finish.

It sounds like the festival has grown over the last three years. Would you agree with that?

Janet Feder: It has, absolutely. Our scope has grown. We're able to attract from a broader selection of interested artists and participants, absolutely.

David Fodel: Although on some levels I feel like we've also been really pretty consistent from the beginning in terms of...we had a vision and that first year we did some great stuff. I think all three years we've had some just really solid stuff. I think that's why people are playing attention, because it's really been pretty consistent.

But I'd like to also mention some of the other folks that we have. We have Dmitry [Morozov], who goes by VTOL. He is in the country from Moscow, touring right now. He was in Denver for a brief stay earlier this month and did some work at the university where I teach and meeting with students. He's a really interesting guy, a young artist. Kind of a circuit-bender, hacker kind of guy really enmeshed in the Moscow scene. He'll be doing a performance on Friday night that'll be at the museum. He just recently got written up in Wired magazine. His work is getting a lot of play. He's excited about coming back. He's actually been working on a new performance, trying it out at these different venues in Chicago and New York and he's going to be in San Francisco next. So he's really refining it. So when he gets back he's going to have this fairly tight new performance for us, so that's pretty exciting.

Then we have Nick Briz, who is from Chicago, and the Chicago new media scene is sort of dominated by this dirty new media and glitch kind of aesthetic. And Nick is really tightly involved in that. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which is just historically the hotbed of activity in electronic media and art and usually really edgy stuff. So he's the guy who does a lot of work with open-source software. He really kind of takes a political angle on things in terms of being able to sort of wrest control of networks and of coding from corporate and political interests. So his idea behind teaching that to other people is that we have to know what's going on in the machine -- otherwise we just become part of the machine sort of thing.

He has developed a live performance software environment. He does a thing that's sort of like a performance lecture where he explains what's going on in the software as he's performing it and it's audio/visual, it's a web-based OpenGL package. It's sort of a low-level graphics language that allows you to do amazing things but he's built this on a web platform. He's also going to be giving a workshop on Sunday about how and why we have to glitch the system. That's should be pretty exciting, too. Keep reading for more on MediaLive 2014.
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon