tim ward, reporting from athens
June 18, 2008
The five-night ElectroMediaWorks 08 festival took place in Athens, Greece, from May 14th to 18th. Based in an 1,800-square-meter industrial space in the very center of the city, a massive void in the factory was transformed into the festival venue. A collection of huge home-made divans acted as informal seating in the middle of a large sound system and multiple projection screens, with the oily machines and battered industrial workbenches of the factory on either side (and still operational during the day).
Billed as a festival open to "anyone interested in the theory, technology, philosophy and practices of mixed media arts", the five nights featured performances from over 200 composers, performers and video artists, including the majority of Greeks active in these areas and representatives of colleges from all over Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Beginning at 6pm each evening, and going on late into the night, activities on the main stage alternated between live electronic performances and laptop improvisation sessions, interspersed with video art works, mini-concerts of electroacoustic music and works combining elements of everything. The result was a rich sequence of constantly changing sonic and visual experiences - continually transforming the space and introducing new and interesting experiences - where captivating moments came in a never-ending stream.
Alongside these performances came the official invited guests of the festival, who presented their work in solo concerts or in conjunction with others. Guests included Gerard Pape, Nicholas Isherwood, Daniel Kientzy & Reina Portuondo (Meta Duo), Joel Chadabe, Carla Scaletti, Michalis Adamis, Theodore Antoniou, Dimitris Kamarotos and Georgos Koumentakis. Gerard Pape was also invited to present in concert major works by Xenakis and Stockhausen, and also to work with Nicholas Isherwood in a retrospective concert to include Stockhausen's Capricorn and other new works composed and dedicated to his memory.
Throughout the festival an upstairs space hosted a range of interactive installations together with a series of talks and seminars by visiting artists. Gerard Pape talked about composing with sound and image, Iannis Zannos talked about interactive environments, Carla Scaletti presented the Kyma language, Joel Chadabe talked about engagement with the environment via sound and the Ear to the Earth initiative, and representatives of different institutes and studios introduced their activities.
To select highlights from amongst such a large number of events and performances is almost impossible - nothing should be left out. Purely personal highlights from events not already mentioned would include (in no particular order): the solo saxophone playing of Theofilos Sotiriadis in music by Georgos Koumendakis, Hugo Morales Murgula and his meta-guitar and live electronics performance, Hannes Raffasader and Kurt Hoerbst's StaTdT_Kunst - Athens, made from sounds and video gathered over the preceding 24 hours in Athens, the solo violin playing of Anna Zerlinska in music by Linda Dusman and the extraordinarily beautiful bird recordings from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, presented by Joel Chadabe at the beginning of his talk about environmental sound and the Ear to the Earth program.
The website of the festival remains online, where a rich resource of information and links can be found.
Also worth visiting are the sites of the festival organizers, for a glimpse of the wealth of activities and interests that gave rise to what they plan to be an annual event - the Centre for Music Composition and Performance (CMCP), the creative team of Medea Electronique and the Electroacoustic Music Research and Applications Laboratory (ERHMME) of Ionian University.