Vancouver artist and New Forms Festival head curator talks local art and talent ahead of the new media festival's 10th run
Malcolm Levy has traveled to India, Australia, China and Germany to exhibit his work as a curator, filmmaker and artist, but the Vancouver native hasn’t forgotten the local media arts scene that gave him his start. This year, as the head curator of the New Forms Festival, Levy has committed the 10th anniversary exhibition of the new media festival to the illumination of Vancouver art and talent.
“The exhibition is not just showing the ecology of media arts, but the media arts scene within Vancouver,” says Levy. “This was really important to me, because this is the community that has supported and been involved in the festival for so many years.”
Levy helped to found the New Forms Festival, a multi-media arts festival that showcases innovative electronic music, experimental filmmaking and digital art, in 1999. Levy says he has witnessed phenomenal growth in the festival—and excitement for it—over the past 10 years.
The festival this year claims to be the largest media arts exhibition of its kind in the history of Vancouver; it will be open to the public for 10 days with four nights of special music programming. The theme is “Traversing Electronic Narratives,” and Levy has paid special attention to representing a breadth of identity discourses essential to the work of artists and artist groups such as the Vancouver Design Nerds and Beat Nation.
“I think it’s always important to bring up issues of political identity—issues of the environment—and do it in a way that’s not necessarily overbearing but do it in a way that’s integral to the piece,” says Levy. “We definitely love to bring out different social, political issues that come up through the pieces. It’s not for us to be dogmatic, but to show an entire discourse and allow that freedom of speech to be within it.”
The advantage of new media is unprecedented interactive and participatory work that makes true discourse possible. One of the festival’s featured works, Soapbox by Khan Lee, is an LED matrix text display board that can receive and display text messages sent via mobile phones. The piece takes another look at the idea of the soapbox, a platform for sharing ideas and opinions.
“It allows people to think about participating in the art,” says Levy of Soapbox, and more broadly, of the Festival. “It allows people to think about creating their own little piece for that moment in time.”
Brandon Gaukel is the creative director of Sad Mag. “Creative Design Solutions” are his favourite part of the magazine production process. Brandon spends his time photographing drag queens, muscle marys and party monsters for the Vancouver’s queer community. See his work at www.sadmag.ca.