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Art and electronics collide as city hosts mind-blowing global symposium (VIDEO)

SFU Woodwards transforms into a techy art space where non-conformity and new forms rule.

Herman Kolgen of MUTEK Cabaret: coming soon to Vancouver (photo by Caroline Haye
Herman Kolgen of MUTEK Cabaret: coming soon to Vancouver (photo by Caroline Hayeur)

Art attack

Art and technology are the opposite of opposites. Today more than ever, technology is gene-spliced with art.

Vancouver is about to host hundreds of mind-bending and heart-wrenching experiments, discussions, and displays of electronic art as ISEA2015 comes to town. From long-paper presentations to DIY music workshops to parties at local bars, ISEA2015 will have something for everyone with any interest in electronic arts.

The International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), is a nomadic international event focused on electronic and digital arts. Founded in Netherlands in the '80s, ISEA is dedicated to bringing academics and artists together to explore and develop how we create in the modern age. Vancouver's six-day event boasts more than 450 speakers, workshops, tutorials, panels, papers, and institutional presentations. It will showcase more than 160 cutting-edge digital artworks, each one carefully selected by a team of curators. (Full disclosure: I’m the event’s social media manager.)

SFU Woodwards will be the epicentre of this creative explosion, and ISEA2015’s programming will overflow to venues across Metro Vancouver. Partners include local artistic organizations and venues, from the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Vancouver, MUTEK, and VIVO Arts Centre to grunt gallery, to Fortune Sound Club, and the New Forms Festival.

“It’s attained a scale that we didn’t really anticipate,” says Kate Armstrong, who is co-directing the artistic component with Malcolm Levy. “We’ve had a huge response from artists and are really excited about the works.” That, she adds, is all down to the partnerships ISEA2015 has been forming, as each Vancouver institution brings its own expertise and creative context to the table.

Kate Armstrong and Malcolm LevyKate Armstrong and Malcolm Levy (photos supplied)

The inclusion of powerhouses such as VIVO and Western Front have created a vibrant local context for the event. FUSE, already a major event at the Vancouver Art Gallery, will get even bigger as ISEA2015 steps in.

Martin Messier, MUTEK Cabaret (photo by artist)Martine Messier of MUTEK: photo by Martin Messier

Vancouver got the bid back in October 2013, says academic symposium co-director Dr. Philippe Pasquier, and organizers have been at it since.

"Mike Tyson said something like, ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face'," he says. "ISEA2015 has been doing that to me and my teams every day and every week for the last 22 months.”

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