Day for Night 2016 Rundown, Pt. 3: Time for Some Light (aka A Brief Look at the Visual Side of DFN)
I’m not an art guy. I tried to be, back when I was a kid, but it turned out I was pretty mediocre at it, so it fell by the wayside. And in terms of speaking about art, I’m largely clueless — I feel like I just don’t have the vocabulary for that, in a lot of ways.
My wife, on the other hand, is an artist and an art teacher, and she blows my mind every time she gets to talking about even the fundamentals of art and interpreting art. She’s way, way smarter than me in that area (hell, in most areas). I mean, I can look at something and say, “yeah, that’s really cool; I like it,” but unlike with music, I have a really hard time explaining why I like it, or what it’s pulling from in terms of influences. It’s just not my area.
So, I’ve kind of been reticent to talk much about the visual art side of Day for Night this year; I tried to, sort of, last year, and I felt like it came off as stupid and amateurish. It made me nervous about trying to do the same thing this time around.
But the art is an integral part of this festival, so ignoring it is just flat-out stupid, and a tremendous waste, besides. I honestly think I’m more excited about seeing the various art installations scattered around 401 Franklin than I am about hearing the bands and musicians play.
With that in mind, I decided I had to at least hit the things that sound like potential highlights, at least to me. First, though, here’s an overall look at the whole merging of art & music:
I’d highly recommend checking out all the videos the Day for Night crew have up, by the way, over at their YouTube channel. Now, for the actual artists (well, some of ’em, anyway):
After seeing the video of Paris/Japan duo NONOTAK‘s installation VOLUME from last year’s DFN, I’m psyched to see what this year’s, SHIRO, will look like. Apparently it’ll be both an installation and a stage where NONOTAK will perform music, so that’ll be a little different, but it should be interesting, either way. I really like the way they use light and shadow for their work, and it’s pretty cool that each installation is necessarily tailored to the specific location. They’ve apparently created SHIRO before, but the piece they’ll be performing, HIGHLINES, is brand new.
I’m intrigued by this one mostly because of the description in the press materials for the Shoplifter piece, Ghostbeast: “a living, breathing interactive sculpture that feeds on sounds, growing inside a large cage during the festival.” Also, something I read mentioned that most of Shoplifter’s pieces used a lot of, um, hair (or hair extensions; I can’t tell if the artists uses both or not). Which is kind of gross, personally, but the general idea of Ghostbeast sounds cool.
Carnegie Mellon professor Golan Levin‘s installation, Lignum Corpora, has a whole ton of technical stuff associated with it, around “skeletonization” and character-recognition, but really, what it sounds like it’ll be — functionally, anyway — is a modern, super-sized version of a funhouse mirror. You walk in front of the 180-foot wall where Levin’s Ghost Pole Propagator is set up, and you watch a weird, stick-figure version of yourself moving around and walking back and forth, looking like a digitized petroglyph. It’ll be entertaining for me, that’s for damn sure.
I’ve seen pictures of the setup for this one, and holy shit, that is a lot of freaking lasers. Lasers, maaaaaan. The piece they’re creating for Day for Night is called Outlines, and the St. Petersburg, Russia-dwelling group say the idea is to work with “the concept of real and imagined boundaries.” And again: LASERS.
AV&C + Houzé
Like NONOTAK above, the three collaborators in AV&C + Houzé, Stephen Baker, David Bianciardi, and Vincent Houzé, had an installation at last year’s Day for Night, and wow, does it look like it was fucking amazing. The light swirls and shifts organically and fluidly, less like light and more like water.
United Visual Artists
The last one I wanted to mention is the piece by London group United Visual Artists, Musica Universalis, mostly because I’ve got no idea what it’s going to look like based on the description. The work is “a spatial instrument that investigates resonances from far away objects in our solar system,” which has me alternately thinking of 2001 and Stargate, but without any real idea what they’re talking about. What I do know is that UVA’s done stage shows for Massive Attack, which is no bad thing.
There’s more, of course, namely Ezra Miller, Robert Seidel, Herman Kolgen, Children of the Light, Björk, Jesse Kanda, Michael Fullman, Various Projects, and DFN co-founder Alex Czetwertynski, all of whom do some really, truly interesting things. Get out there and witness the whole thing for yourself.
(Photos [top to bottom]: Nonotak; Shoplifter; United Visual Artists.)