High-tech high culture

By McKinley Wiens

Advancement in art comes with advancement in technology — in new media, computers and video screens have become fresh canvases for artists to explore. EMMEDIA, a local electronic media arts centre that provides support and equipment for local artists, will soon be hosting Calgary’s first new media festival, Particle + Wave. The festival will run from Sept. 27–30 and will highlight local artists through screenings, exhibitions and performances throughout the city. 

The festival will be a part of Alberta Culture Days, an annual celebration in Alberta. It showcases various art groups throughout the province, giving them a chance to promote Alberta’s heritage and artistic diversity. Along with over 1,000 other events happening across the province at the same time, Particle + Wave is guaranteed to give Calgary a fantastic show. 

EMMEDIA’s programs and outreach coordinator Vicki Chau believes that there is no better time to hold the first new media festival. 

“It coincides with the Alberta Culture Days and we wanted to be a part of that,” says Chau. “Especially for the launch of our festival, we want to have a provincial impact.” 

Chau believes the festival is quite the undertaking, but is more than worth the effort — especially since it has the potential to introduce many people to a new kind of art.

“This is a huge endeavor that EMMEDIA is taking on,” says Chau. “A lot of people don’t actually know what media arts are all about. Media arts are anything that show or run on electricity.” 

EMMEDIA’s media arts performances are usually held in the Plaza Theatre in Kensington, but due to the number of works involved in Particle + Wave, the theatre space is just one aspect of the festival. 

“Having the festival gives us the opportunity to expand the number of venues and the diversity of venues available,” says Whitehead.

Every year, six projects are chosen from artists’ submissions for the Production Access Program, which then provides funding for these artists to produce their work. Among the many different performances at Particle + Wave, the works from the 2012 Production Access Program will make up roughly half of the festival. 

“Luminaries is the title we’ve given to a package of works that were produced through this year’s annual Production Access Program,” says production coordinator Kyle Whitehead. “We have members of the community that want to produce new work come in and they have free access to our equipment. It’s probably our biggest scale program annually.” 

The events at the festival include films, audio-visual presentations, projections and experimental projects that fall outside any sort of classification. With so many different choices, you are sure to find something you like — even if you have never heard of media arts in your life.

“Not everything in the festival is going to liked by everyone,” said Chau. “But there’s enough diversity that everyone is going to find something that they really enjoy. It’s a chance for people to come out and experience art for three days. It should be a lot of fun.” 

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