TodaysArt is an annual Media Art festival that has taken place in the Dutch city the Hague every autumn since 2005. The festival features audiovisual and modern dance performances, concerts, clubbing, installations, and art exhibitions at the city centre’s two theatres, cinema, and the neighbouring buildings of the city hall. This year’s festival, the eighth one running, opened on the night of September 21st with a speech by its director Olof van Winden and a variety of performances. This year NTV Europe, which is based in Amsterdam, and has been supporting art projects over a period of twenty years, participated for the first time in the capacity of a trial collaboration. Through this, the up-and-coming Japanese artists Ei Wada and Ryoichi Kurokawa were welcomed to the festival, and gave their performances in a grand way.

At the centre of the four main venues was built what should be called a monument, put together out of old furniture and other discarded items found in the city: the Vortex of the Raumlaborberlin. On the inside, space was opened up wide to create a dance floor, and the Vortex seems to just fold itself over its visitors, and like a black hole, suck them in. The work is supposed to represent the state of consumer society. Since this venue was set up outside, it was also accessible to the general public who did not have tickets to the festival.

syn_ by Ryoichi Kurokawa

On the night of the 21st, Ryoichi Kurokawa’s “syn_” was performed in the grand hall of the Lucent Danstheater, one of the main venues of the festival; a delicate combination of digital animation and sound that created the image of countless thin lines interweaving.

This black-and-white contrast was impressive also because of Ei Wada’s Braun Tube Jazz Band. In this performance Wada projects sounds, “altered” into images, on twelve Braun TVs, which he strikes and strokes as if playing percussion, creating music.

Braun Tube Jazz Band by Ei Wada

Afer the Braun Tube Jazz Band on the second day, he performed in the Open Reel Ensemble together with Kimitoshi Sato, Takumi Namba, Haruka Yoshida, and Masaru Yoshida. While using the particular character of open reel tape decks, the ensemble recorded the crowd and directly used the material like disc jockeys during this performance, driving the entire sold-out hall wild.[/caption]

Open Reel Ensemble

Directly beside the Lucent Danstheater is The Hague’s City Hall with its characteristic high-ceilinged atrium and white walls. It was here that a 500 square-metre space was brought to life with 65,000 unsold or discarded CDs put together by hand to create a sandy beach landscape: “Waste Landscape” by Elise Morin and Clémence Eliard. In its centre, the performance “Inneract”, featuring harp, electronics, and visuals. Taking the famous Dutch minimal music composer, Simeon Ten Holt’s “canto ostinato” as a starting point, this improv rendition lasted anywhere from forty-five minutes up to several hours. Visitors were able to enjoy the show from the venue’s upstairs passages and the elevator.

Electricity is indispensable for media art. It is very interesting that the building that supplied electricity, was treated as part of this year’s TodaysArt. At the old power plant building, a short distance from the central venues, in an enormous room, was a group exhibition which took its name from Nam Jun Paik’s artwork “Global Groove”; elsewhere was an exhibition of Turkish media art “Commons Tense”. In the “Global Groove” exhibition, the work “Ideophone 1:36” by Dick Raaijmakers (one of the founders and godparents of electronic music, and of great influence in the development of young people in the Hague), the sound created by the vibration of the speakers making metal spheres jump up, had a delightful ring in that great old power plant. Here, the work of celebrated, masterful artists was on display together with the work of young artists ready to take on the next generation.

The theme of TodaysArt 2012 was “the Search and Longing for the Undiscovered”. The sense that especially now in this time of change, an artist can go back to their own roots and treat old things preciously, while still creating novel and radical works, could be perceived in a variety of works. This message and accomplishment was summarized at the opening on the second day with the work “Elements of Light” by The Bell Laboratory and Pantha Du Prince, which made use of countless bells, and which closed with a magnificent standing ovation.

21+22 Sept the Hague

An audiovisual summary of the 8th edition of the TodaysArt Festival