Sci-fi and tech culture prevail as influences amid the festival’s busy program
Each year in August, the population of the Scottish city of Edinburgh explodes with visitors for the city’s numerous arts and culture festivals. Visitors attend arts exhibitions, comedy shows, music performances, and theater productions, all amid a city buzzing with street performers on nearly every corner.
The Edinburgh Art Festival, founded in 2004, is the UK’s largest annual visual arts festival and is one of the six festivals taking place this month. The SciArt thread is strong this year as environment and ecology, as well as cosmology and sci-fi, are key influences throughout venues.
By Allison Palenske
The following exhibitions are just a sample of the many SciArt happenings at the 2014 Edinburgh Art Festival:
Katie Paterson, Earth-Moon-Earth and Katie Paterson: Ideas
Despite working across a variety of mediums, artist Katie Paterson maintains consistency through themes of cosmology, geology, and ecology. Paterson will show at the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh, as well as Jupiter Artland during the 2014 Edinburgh Festivals. Both shows relate to geological and astronomical processes, specifically in relation to Paterson’s study of the moon.
At Jupiter Artland, Paterson will show a new experimental work titled Earth-Moon-Earth (E.M.E), in which a Morse code version of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata will be sent from the Earth and reflected on the surface of the moon. A piano located in the gallery will play the code that is received from this reflection.
To complement this work, Second Moon will be shown at the Ingleby Gallery as part of Katie Paterson: Ideas. Second Moon is a yearlong project for Paterson, which entailed a fragment of the moon being shipped via airfreight courier around the earth. The Ingleby Gallery will be the final destination for this meteorological artifact.
Susan Hiller, Susan Hiller: Resounding
Susan Hiller: Resounding will be shown at Summerhall this August in yet another exhibition with sci-fi and celestial references. A pioneer in audio-visual new media, Hiller’s work often involves large-scale immersive installations. For Susan Hiller: Resounding, radio waves emitted from the Big Bang are interpreted into a visual and auditory landscape.
Summerhall, a repurposed building that once housed the city’s veterinary school, is a key venue for Edinburgh’s festivals, including the International Science Festival in April and the Edinburgh Art Festival and Festival Fringe in August.
Yann Seznec, Currents
Artist and musician Yann Seznec frequently juxtaposes technology and the natural world in his works. For the 2014 Edinburgh Art Festival, Seznec will repurpose discarded computer fans into a public installation, located on Edinburgh’s busy Easter Road. The fans, a symbol of the ever-evolving economy of personal technology, will be in constant motion to create both an auditory and visual experience for viewers. The movement of the fans is dictated by real-time global weather data, bringing often over-looked or unseen meteorological phenomena into a tangible personal scale.
Chris Helson and Sarah Jackets, Help Me Obi
As part of the Alt-w group exhibition by New Media Scotland, artists Chris Helson and Sarah Jackets will show their tech-triumph Help Me Obi, a 360º video hologram machine. As is suggested by the title of the work, Help Me Obi is a reference to the well-known utterance by hologram Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope . As Help Me Obi is a living example of hologram technology previously only realized in sci-fi fiction movies, this piece acts as an exploration of isolation and intimacy dichotomies.
The Edinburgh Art Festival runs from July 31 to August 31 2014, with some exhibitions running beyond the dates of the festival.