AND Festival – Previewed


Back in Liverpool for 2013, festival of new media Abandon Normal Devices is a more focused affair…  

Founded in 2009 Abandon Normal Devices (more commonly known as AND Festival) is the multi-disciplinary arts showcase – daringly – calling both Liverpool and Manchester home.

With past results including such mind-shatteringly challenging work as Austrian artist Kurt Hentschläger’s ZEE, AND (with good reason) prides itself on being “a dynamic festival of ground-breaking art, digital culture and new cinema”.

This year, with Liverpool’s FACT playing host once more, though the format has been tweaked – a week-long programme of artists’ “ateliers” culminate with a three-day festival – there is still an impressively broad range of works to get around.

“We recommend heading to FACT for the opening night’s programme”

Beginning on Thursday, we recommend heading to FACT at 6pm for the opening night’s programme. Things get underway with Michelle Ellsworth’s performance piece, Three Optimal Solutions; called “virtuosic” and “completely, winningly ridiculous” by the New York Times, Ellsworth melds the digital world with real-world concerns.

Also on the night are the previews of exhibtions from Mark Boulos and Nicolas Maigret. If there is an artwork at this year’s AND looking to rival ZEE for column inches it would have to be Boulos’ Echo, a brand new commission for the festival.

Mark Boulos' Echo/AND

“A large-scale, immersive video installation in which viewers will encounter a ghostly ‘reflection’ of themselves that moves and speaks as they do in real time,” Echo certainly promises to be an attention grabber as well as a conversation starter and is shown alongside three of the artist and filmmaker’s pre-existing works.

Meanwhile, what of those ateliers we mentioned? The wonderfully named new cinema pioneers, Marshmallow Laser Feast, who describe themselves as “working at the intersection of art and technology,” present the results of a closed artist residency with New Cinema Lab: “an investigation into the technological possibilities of cinema space.”

“It wouldn’t be AND without a programme of bleeding-edge screenings”

And speaking of cinema, it wouldn’t be AND without a programme of bleeding-edge, challenging screenings. This year is no different, boasting a packed film schedule including a documentary on Lebanon’s efforts to join the space race (Lebanese Rocket Society) and Soviet Animation in 3D.

We’re perhaps most drawn to Leviathan (screening Friday) – winner of the Michael Powell award for best British feature at this year’s Edinburgh international film festival – described by the Guardian’s Andrew Pulver as “an impressionist study of a fishing trawler” and the UK premiere, From yu to me (screening Saturday).

Telling the story of the former Yugoslavia’s female internet pioneers and the subsequent shift that occurred with the move to capitalism, From yu to me poses relevant social and political questions.

Back briefly to opening night now for The Cloud, a free party at Static Gallery featuring artist network Primitive London, ITAL, Stellar OM Source, Tomasu and DJ sets from Samizdat Deep Hedonia and Endgame. Not any old party, this being AND there is a theme exploring hyper-connectivity’s eroding effect on anonymity. Likening it to an old time Speakeasy, The Cloud’s organizers promise “refuge from the instruments of intelligence interception”.

Another piece of AND-inspired provocation and engagement comes in the form of Friday’s Future Primed, which promises to take you “on the first step to HUMAN 2.0,” presumably whether you want to or not!

Their ‘specialist facility’ (a Duke Street car park and the Kazimier) is the site on which people “will be taken through bespoke services ‘safe-guarding’ against future redundancy”. Brought to you by the members of the Kazimier collective, for all it’s vagueness, it has to be worth checking out.

Visit the Abandon Normal Devices website for more info and full listings 

Watch our video interview with Primitive London

Posted on 01/10/2013 by thedoublenegative