CYBERFEST Berlin 2014: "The Other Home".

In Events and Exhibitions / December 12, 2014

CYBERFEST’s first international leap in 2013 has gathered more than 10,000 people. CYLAND now marks its 8th year of iconic new media activities by going global. CYBERFEST is the original, biggest festival for tech based art in Russia. Founded in 2007, CYBERFEST expanded to Germany in 2013.

In 2014, CYBERFEST reaches international levels by branching to 5 innovative cities on the Art & Tech frontier, strengthening cultural exchange among innovators. CYBERFEST «The Other Home (s)» explores the commonalities and differentiations among physical, emotional and cultural manifestations attached to the concept of «home».

CYLAND presents CYBERFEST 2014: The Other Home(s) in parallel with CYBERFEST 2014: Sound Art Berlin, curated by CYLAND’s Sergey Komarov, due to take place December 15, 2014, 19:00 at PLATOON Kunsthalle (Schonhauser Allee 9, Mitte Berlin).

Marina Alexeeva, Life and Adventures of White and Black, Episode 3, 2014. Video 02 minutes 20 seconds. Dimensions Variable. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.
Marina Alexeeva, Life and Adventures of White and Black, Episode 3, 2014. Video 02 minutes 20 seconds. Dimensions Variable. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.

Following the tradition of legendary apartment shows of Soviet time — this exposition explores correlations between public and private, inner and outward, practical and idle, trivial and odd. This group exhibition presents a survey of mid-career St Petersburg based artists.

Depicting an epic struggle of black versus white in which headless, faceless pugilists oppose one another on the basis of costume alone, (black versus white), Marina Alexeeva calls into question our reliance on superficial determiners of difference and the wars we wage between and amongst ourselves.

Lyudmila Belova‘s calligraphic inscriptions drawn onto the cracked glaze of the surface, «soon it will be summer,» «soon it will be spring,» «soon it will be time to go to the country house,» «soon it will be lunch,» reflect the consistency of our expectations. Here the word «soon» invariably appeals to a future, in which time is measured not in hours, but in hopes, rendering meaningless the fact that everything promised has already come to pass and it will certainly come to pass again, reframing time within the cyclical realities of human desire. In another work, the artist placed photographs found in the archive of a real-estate agency into the objects-boxes equipped with peep holes and a media player that provides an opportunity to hear typical sounds of the entranceways: footsteps, knocking on doors, fragments of conversation, sounds of fireworks coming from the street, singing around the festive table from an apartment next door. By placing the image into the box with a space-curving peep hole, into which just one person could peak at a time, and by providing a sound accompaniment, which is, once again, meant for just one person at a time, Lyudmila Belova endowed the banal photograph, furthermore, the very staircase, the space of an entranceway with a symbolic meaning. By peaking into the peep hole of an individual box, the viewer gets into a dream space. Where staircases are not real, but symbolic; the climbing up, ascent promise a new knowledge; the submerging into the depth — a cognition of one’s own internal experience. An open door attracts not by virtue of simple curiosity, but it entices as a deck of tarot cards, slightly lifting up the veil over future. The sound that accompanies the curved space, which became three-dimensional thanks to the lens of a peep hole, does not bring the viewer back to his reality, but rather makes the immersion into a different reality even more complete.

The monotonous light flowing out of the ball is the dream of a person with clear conscience in Petr Belyi‘s work. The quiet, deep pink glow is the dream of a child; the nervous, quivering light is the dream of a criminal; the cold light is the president’s dream; the greenish glow is that of a homemaker. The ball rests on a pillow; it is asleep.

Andrey Kuzkin‘s Project with Stone offers viewers the opportunity to engage with the idea of the Sisyphean made manifest through a performance in which tremendous effort is exerted for the sake of a certain absolutely absurd and nearly invisible results. Project with Stone harkens back to the pure movements of the Viennese Actionists while subtly poking fun at the notion of human agency in a global context. The absurd, the ideal and the actionable all unite behind this monumental and poetic performance with quiet determination and self-deprecating humor.

In her artist statement, Katya Bochavar explains her views as reflected in her work: “I am an artist; I studied to be an artist. For six years, they taught us to draw flowers and to paint still-lives. The most important lesson that I learned from those studies is that the portrayal of realty was rather indirectly related to the reality as such. The frozen life can be expressive and similar to the real one or even more expressive and more similar to the reality than the reality itself. And yet, this is not so much a portrait of the object that we see as a portrait of time, a portrait of mood, a portrait of the artist… I saw a group portrait of the several generations of Soviet citizens in still-lives of the Soviet Grand Style. The objects amassed in them are the common memory of those who lived in the Soviet and Post-Soviet times. The type production, spreading form the Black Sea to Kamchatka, constituted the everyday life of all layers of the population – from full professors to street cleaners. The material memory of those years gradually disappears, together with chipped teapots and cardboard valises that fell into disuse. Such dear and familiar vases and teacups are still sitting in the china cupboard of your neighbor old lady, but they catch one’s eyes increasingly seldom. Using them for the reconstruction of still-lives-memorials, I reflect with a sweet sorrow on the transience of it all.”

Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov have used a quote from A.P. Chekov’s Seagull to explain their multimedia installation Eclipse: “…All men, lions, eagles, and quails, horned stags, geese, spiders, silent fish that inhabit the waves, starfish from the sea, and creatures invisible to the eye—in one word, all the lives, all the lives, all the lives, completing the dreary round imposed upon them, have died out at last. Thousands of centuries have passed since the earth last bore a living creature on her breast, and the unhappy moon now lights her lamp in vain. No longer are the cries of storks heard in the meadows, or the drone of beetles in the groves of limes. All is cold, cold, cold. All is void, void, void…”

Alexander Dashevsky takes a look at development and real estate as exact spheres measured in investments, square meters, adjustments, liquidity, profitability, and risks. The artist unveils how the imperative to acquire property stems not only from mathematical calculations of financial acuity but also from ineranlized goals and imperatives constructed in the realms of philosophy and ideation. In both worlds, the purchase of a home is a watershed moment — a point of maximum exertion of material and spiritual strengths. And yet, home ownership is not a secure transaction, phsycologically, financially or philosophically, and at some point the threads woven so carefully together to realize this disparate goal begin to unravel. Dashevsky’s work takes root in the space between ideology and reality, between home ownership and homelessness, between security and the great unknown, problematizing both the concept of home ownership and the psycho-social imperatives made manifest in this oh-so-specific cycle of acquisition dissolution.

According to Marina Koldobskaya, we live among gadgets, devices and balls of tangles wire. Our ears are filled with audio advertisement, phone warbles, squeaks of action games, crackles of shooters and radio call signs. There are more screens than landscapes, more avatars than faces, more chats than conversations. We push buttons more often than we shake hands; we receive offers of friendship from strangers and love missives from robots. The digital Fata Morgana corrodes reality— we are asked every day to prove that we are no robots ourselves. Alive to the twin legacies of Dada and Pop Art, Koldobskaya’s work takes hold of the satellite dish as an object of symbolic and formal significance. By positioning the dish in opposition to animality and all that is organic in this life, Koldobskaya uses humor, wit and wisdom to engage with the great question of what does in fact separate us from the ones and zeros that make up our digital life, our online personhood, our robot avatars.

Vladimir Kozin‘s Baby Bootee stands alone as one of twelve monumental objects manufactured from automobile tires for the Timeless Values series, 2009—2010. As a series, the 12 sculptural objects together symbolize the important stages of human life, from womb to tomb, while Baby Bootee individually represents childhood in fractured and deconstructed isolation. Exploring both individual human significance and the relentless passage of time, Kozin breaks life and art down to its component parts allowing for a closer reexamination of both the moments and the materials that make us truly human.

From 2003 until 2009, Peter Lederer has collected about 230 mineral salt stones, licked by different animals of our region (deer, bulls, cows, sheep, etc.). The stones were removed after several lickings, so every piece is a unique. The artist has built a surface for the material and put it together with a video-work. It is a silent movie, a filmed sculpture about a musician playing his instrument. The work is a surface, it must come to its own coincidence.

Anna Frants quotes Wikipedia as the starting point for her work: “If paranoia transforms into persecutory delusion or persecutory, one talks about an isolated delusional disorder. Delusional Disorder is a mental illness  that is characterized by the presence of a well-systematized domineering delusion, but, unlike schizophrenia, devoid of quirkiness.” Then the artist explains further: “Legend has it that the expression “even walls have ears” can be traced back to Dionysius I, the 5th Century BC tyrant of Syracuse who was the first to come up an ingenious method of eavesdropping before succumbing to the paranoia surveillance inevitably engenders. Could it be that paranoia starts when “on the lookout” and “apprehension” take up residence in the same body? Where does madness begin and sanity end? On the Lookout takes up these questions,  reflecting on the nature of surveillance, the social context of psychology and the organization of the human soul.”

Petr Shvetsov reproduces erotic scenes from ancient vases and frescos onto the tiled walls of public toilets in the spirit of present day guerrilla graffiti. Shvetsov’s reproductions are sketches, live drawings infused with the vitality of the present moment rather than simple replicas of imagery produced millennia ago. By transporting imagery across time and space, these expressive, brutal and lively graphics endow the profane with the spirit of high art, maneuvering concepts of value to challenge our most deeply held beliefs about art and the erotic.

Starting from Anaximander’s quote, “From what source things arise, to that they have to return of necessity when they are destroyed for they suffer punishment and make reparation to one another for their injustice according to the assessment of time,” Vitaly Pushnitsky investigates how the transformative power of objects negotiating the liminal space between utilitarian practicality and aesthetic transcendence in the artistic context calls into question the nature of the object itself. Pushnitsky’s work navigates these boundaries and examines the contextualized meaning of our most familiar objects in the service of examining fundamental questions about the nature of object-hood and the limits of existence.

Renata Muha is also quoted by Alexey Grachev to define his work: “History acquaints us with examples of the notion that sense of humor is of use. As is sense of proportion.”

Elena Gubanova, Ivan Govorkov, Aleksey Grachev & Viktor Ryukhin - Eclipse, 2014. Multimedia Installation. Dimensions Variable. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.
Elena Gubanova, Ivan Govorkov, Aleksey Grachev & Viktor Ryukhin - Eclipse, 2014. Multimedia Installation. Dimensions Variable. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.

Alexander Terebenin recalls Peter Grunwald, a statistician at the Dutch Center of Mathematics and Computer Science, who calculated that over 107 billion people were born on Earth throughout human history. If we are to trust those numbers and to factor in the 7 billion people currently living on the planet earth, then we can conclude that throughout time more than 100 billion people have been born and died on planet Earth. Time whisked away the images of most of the former inhabitants of our planet, capturing only a a select few. At different times, the visual memory of the dead was preserved by way of death masks and funerary portraits in painting or in sculpture. With the advent of daguerreotype and photography itself, capturing an image for posterity became easier than ever, and by the twentieth century a culture of grave photo imagery emerged in force. This new form photography often manifests as enameled oval plaques at the site of the grave; however, these enamel images are not durable — these images fade in the sun, wash away in the rain, or simply disappear with time. As the years go, a new images replaces the lost photographs — an image created by the elements. Billions of the departed didn’t leave their images behind. The Last Portrait is a monument to all mankind.

Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai‘s work reflects how throughout the 21st century, the number of hardware helpers accompanying us throughout our routine “life production” has grown such that the simple family home has come to closely resemble the factory floor, complete with ongoing hardware and software sequences dedicated to the constant production of activity considered necessary for a rich and full modern life. With the introduction of hardware helpers to the home, a veritable cacophony of auditory and visual dynamics has descended upon private space—a theatrical performance of production moved onto the personal stage of the private home. Drawing upon the work of Nam June Paik and John Cage, Shishkin-Hokusai’s work re-contextualizes the production behavior of everyday mechanical objects, highlighting the performative dynamic of hardware and reanimating our technologies in the process.

Not lastly, Sergey Komarov, Leta & Vladislav Dobrovolsky‘s Kitchen consists of 12 black drawers composed to resemble kitchen cabinets, and containing within a unique audio file that plays for the visitor each time the cabinet’s door is opened. The viewer, manipulating the cabinets by opening the each in turn, can act as composer, creating a unique opus, through the combination of select sound files in turn. Each individual has the opportunity to craft a personal soundscape that evokes not only the desires and preferences of the viewer, but also the unique moment of time spent with Kitchen itself.

Along with this artistic program, the CYBERFEST SOUND ART program comes to the German capital to unite acclaimed local cultural leaders with renowned international artists at Platoon Kunsthalle in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte art district. Artists and included in this international exploration of sound art include several well known artists.

Pete Um, master of the miniature electro-acoustic song-poem, a form he has more or less invented, displays a sardonic wit and a healthy misanthropy when crafting micro-collages of voice, instruments, samples, and electronics. Um’s highly specialized sound work misdirects the audience, infecting the crowd with an aural virus that energizes and entertains, masking the irony and complexity of the work with a cheerful smooth outer shell that makes for truly exquisite sound art.

As a sculptor, performer and sound artist, Jonas Gruska not only solders his own instruments but also writes and preforms unique soundscapes on audio software he himself designs. A graduate of the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, Gruska’s expansive knowledge of synthetic sound and unique artistic perspective lead the listener into a dense yet pleasing thicket of sound. Born in Czechoslovakia and educated at The Institute of Sonology (Netherlands) and Music Academy (Poland), Gruska works primarily electronic sound as an artist in addition to authoring interactive poems and crafting distinct visual performances, open source computer instruments, artistic software and hardware. He has performed and exhibited his work in Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia; on festivals such as Kraak (Belgium), Audio Art (Poland), Melos-Ethos (Slovakia) or Next (Slovakia). In 2011 he started label LOM focused on East/Central European experimental art and music.

Alexander Zaitsev, cofounder of the legendary Russian music band Christmas Decorations, is an artist of enormous skill and complex craft, presenting the world premier of new work at Cyberfest 2014. Integrating popular themes and aesthetic exploration, Zaitsev’s new work offers audiences an inverted third-rate serial, a mysterious film noir of short sonic vignettes.

Georgy Bagdasarov is an experienced programmer of human souls. During his performance, he continuously reboots the listener’s consciousness through via his exquisite instrument — a dissected turntable lifting a ghost needle to load the track over and over and over. Georgy is a pedagogue, his is the tutorial method.

Boris Hegenbart practices imagery in his sound canvases, offering up unfinished visions to the audience who complete the score through individualized perception of the work. For Cyberfest 2014, Hegenbart will preform live, offering local audiences the purest experience of he algorithm’s instructions. Born  in Berlin, Hegenbarthas worked composing sound installations, electroacoustic concerts soundscapes for theatrical performances and experimental radio and video art. A graduate of the Institute of Electroacoustic Music. As an international performer Hegenbart’s work has been exhibited at Transmediale, Berlin 2013; Musikprotokoll, Austria 2012; and Musashino Art University, Tokyo 2011.

Marina Alexeeva, Life and Adventures of White and Black, Episode 3, 2014. Video 02 minutes 20 seconds. Dimensions Variable. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.
Marina Alexeeva, Life and Adventures of White and Black, Episode 3, 2014. Video 02 minutes 20 seconds. Dimensions Variable. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.

The four curators of CYBERFEST explain their views in the curatorial statements they’ve released along with the program.

Anna Frants, Festival curator, says: «’THE OTHER HOME’… Next to another home, next to another structure — much like the house that Jack built — we turn together with Planet Earth. We revolve around the Sun which in its rotations, formats people going to sleep around darkness and rising with light of day break to start playing musical instruments, sweeping floors, brushing teeth or just lying back down to think about life. What a pleasure it is sometimes to ponder life –  to stay in bed and consider how particles of chaos form harmony! Such clarity happens on its own without outside help in an inconceivably infinite number of ways. What if we aim a magnifying glass at this to explore it with our eyes? What would we see? A home, another home; yet another… In Moscow, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, Berlin, New York… A friend once told me as a child he asked to be woken up an hour early so that he would loll in bed and practice reflection. As a curator, I would like for the time spent at CYBERFEST, regardless of the geographic location, to become in fact — that very hour when one would immerse as Fluxus founder George Maciunas stated into ‘a Fusion of Spike Jones, vaudeville, gags, children’s games and Duchamp’ while simultaneously responding to Earth as it slowly rotates on its axis, exposing alternate side to sunrays…»

Marina Koldobskaya, Festival curator, recalls “‘Home Sweet Home’… Parents’ house… My castle and the walls that help.” She then argues that “A modern person changes  residences 5 to 10 times during a lifetime, usually using a few  simultaneously — often in different countries and climate zones. Countless numbers of renovations wipe away traces of history, remote or recent, one’s own as indiscriminately as somebody else’s. The residence is a mirror of the inhabitant’s soul but successful people invite the architect / designer / decorator to arrange the interior for them. In vogue, this could be exotics, high-tech, historicism or vintage – all made to order; purchased in special places. ‘Home Sweet Home’ is a bunch of appliances that chop / whip / fry / steam / warm up / cool down. Tools perhaps designed in Europe while made in Asia help prepare food familiar to us since childhood as proficiently as exotics, fusion or dishes of the molecular gastronomy. Bedrooms are still often upheld sacrosanct — believed to be the place where people most intimately love, conceive, give birth and die. This is a literary cliche. People love and conceive in all sorts of places. A scenario: on a romantic trip purchased in a travel agency. They give birth at a hospital. They die… Well, let’s leave it at that. The walls look like a castle less and less and more look like a screen. In order for the setting to help, it is recommended to switch channels. But as a rule, what does this help? An international person lives in the coordinates: taxi-airport-hotel. They are all different and they are all somebody else’s property. At success, most envy “one’s own” yacht or plane. It seems, modest land has no hold anymore. A person with means today could buy a castle in Europe or an island in the Pacific Ocean — purchasing history or voiding history. Between poles of success there are tens of thousands square miles of bedroom communities. Something needs to be done about that.

Video Art program curator Viktoria Ilyushkina says «With each industrial, cultural or societal revolution — the fundamental contexts defining “home“ transform. “Home“ has shifted from a comfortable cave to heights of architecture and technical advance. In contemporary times, the physical location of where one is tethered to is less restrictive. A person may travel freely, with amazing speed and have all ties to their home needed on a laptop or smart phone – a small digital extension of the physical world. Regardless of the growing freedom to travel afar, most have a “home“ — each different from their neighbors. “Home“ can be a haven, a border of elements, a burrow; at best — it is the body and the projection of its inhabitant’s mind. A place of solitude and privacy, able to be changed or erased to start again elsewhere anew. Reversely, the technology which provides the luxury of freedom also allows permanence of mundane communications and anonymity change the mindset of one’s actions. It is often impossible to delete what lives online. Meanwhile, this new lifeline/timeline accrues as it also becomes less possible to distinguish what is real and what is an illusion. In any case, the real and fake is inside our homes now, virtualizing our reality.»

The curator of the Sound Art program, Sergey Komarov claims “This year, Cyberfest reexamines the notion of «home» and explores the very boundaries of the concept; therefore, it is necessary, when speaking the language of digital disciplines, to determine the point of origin of the term itself. The word cybernetics is derived from Greek word kyverni̱tikí̱, which can be translated directly as “the art of government.” In this vein, a sound artist could be viewed as a computer programmer who, to the extent of his experience and luck, imbues our bodies and souls with an algorithm for modulation of emotions. The algorithm could be straightforward and strike an instant chord, or complex, branched; perhaps, the chord might even hide its true calling as an audio Trojan Horse. Whatever that algorithm might be, it always has its first «line» or even its own microscopic space before it. The Other Home Sound Program explores this atypical performance space—the  few spare seconds before the sound is born and a millisecond after that. It is into this time-space, where one artist has already experienced the culmination of his own future opus in a total silence and another is taking his first timid steps towards the oncoming sound, that mental instructions to the listener and to oneself are emitted. The aural world is being rebooted. And, of course, artists themselves will become objects of the study. To explore push the boundaries of home through sound, Cyberfest 2014 presents 5 acclaimed artists who practice totally dissimilar approaches to sound art: Jonas Gruska, Boris Hegenbart, Alexander Zaitsev, Pete Um, and Georgy Bagdasarov— the improvisor, the engineer, the teacher, the ascetic, and the showman, respectively.”

Sound Art CYBERFEST. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.
Sound Art CYBERFEST. Used here courtesy of CYBERFEST. All rights reserved.

About Kunstquartier Bethanien: Constructed between 1845-47 under a commission by the pious King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, Bethanien as an institute for educating nurses and caregivers. The hospital remained in use until 1970. A vehement „Battle of Bethanien“ began when the hospital was closed down in 1970. The planned demolition of much of the institution — which included the construction of social housing projects — was hindered by squatters, citizens’ initiative groups and historic building conservationists. Since 1973, Bethanien has served as an iconic, predominantly cultural, artistic and social institution in Berlin.

About PLATOON Kunsthalle: PLATOON Kunsthalle in Berlin is a modular architecture structure consisting of 34 standard freight containers. This 4500 m2 industrial area hosts cultural movements and community events as well as PLATOON FACTORY and PLATOON ARTIST LAB. With spaces in Berlin and Seoul, PLATOON’s global network includes more than 6000 artists, creatives and thinkers that support each other. PLATOON’s cultural development experience serves as a consultancy for energizing sustainable relationships between brands and creative subcultures.

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