Abandon Normal Devices art festival returns in Liverpool

Posted on 2 October 2013
By Michelle Gondry
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Abandon Normal Devices (AND), a dynamic festival of ground-breaking art, digital culture and new cinema, is taking place in Liverpool between 3-5 October 2013 at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology).

Now in its 5th year, this year’s programme is an exciting foray into current artistic and cinematic practice, focusing on artists who make the impossible possible.

Blurring the boundaries between art, science and cultural activism, the projects showcased will render a whole series of politically charged views that provide commentary on issues as diverse as modern defence tactics to special effects.

This year marks a departure from the usual format of previous years with a week long programme of ateliers – training for artists by artists – followed by a 3 day exposition of performances, debates, live events and more.

New to the festival programme this year will be the AND Fair on Saturday 5 October, which will play on the format of the World Fairs of old, inviting artists to demonstrate both the fantastical and the primitivism of new technologies, with projects as diverse as optical illusions, flying machines, biological probes and computer algorithms.

The four ateliers are: A focus on the future of cinema with creative technologists and new cinema pioneers Marshmallow Laser Feast testing networks, using animation and special effects they will be attempting to connect cinemas across the UK.

Alchemist artist Adam Brown, known for the award-winning The Great Work of the Metal Lover (a project where he created gold), delivers a workshop on How to make art in a toxic environment.

Critical Engineers Julian Oliver and Daniil Vasiliev run NETworkshop where attendees can learn how to manipulate computer networks and build a small-scale model of the own internet,

Artist and provocateur Jesse Darling decamps from the city for Our Bodies, Our Selfies, training in performativity in the online space.

A major commission this year is the world premiere of filmmaker and artist Mark Boulos’ new immersive video installation, Echo. Viewers will encounter a ‘reflection’ of themselves transposed within the fast-moving traffic of an unfamiliar city.

As the viewer continues to observe their doppelgänger it becomes increasingly de-synchronised, its voice an echo and the surrounding buildings and streets, stretching, and distorting.

The work combines scientific research with innovative camera techniques, including Hitchcock’s vertigo inducing ‘contra zoom’ and special effects based on the illusion ‘Peppers Ghost’ to produce an unsettling personal experience.

This new commission inspires a supporting film programme and symposium. Echo was commissioned and produced by Forma in partnership with FACT, development and presentation supported by The Wellcome Trust and presented as part of Abandon Normal Devices 2013.

A selection of feature length and short films that look at life on film and the limits of the archive to obsolete technologies and ground-breaking digital tools will also be screened.

The films featured in AND will range from rarely seen early stereoscopic Soviet 3D animations to the award winning documentary, Leviathan – a thrilling, immersive journey that takes you deep inside the dangerous world of commercial fishing, employing an arsenal of cameras that pass freely from film crew to ship crew, and swoop from below sea level to astonishing bird’s-eye views.

Artists featured in the festival include Marshmellow Laser Feast, Aleksandra Domanovic, Ivan Puig Domene, Andrés Padilla Domene, Adam Brown, Jesse Darling, Mark Boulos, Imogen Stidworthy, Julian Oliver and Daniil Vasiliev and many more.