Pop Filter Hot Pick: 4th annual VIA Music & New Media Festival remixes Pittsburgh
Why you should go:
50 artists, 13 events, 8 venues, and one first-of-its-kind Pittsburgh festival.
This week, emerging music, new media art and cutting-edge technology will converge in and around Pittsburgh during highly anticipated VIA Music & New Media Festival
, all produced right in our own backyard. For the next five days, this is your chance to catch top international acts who rarely perform locally, step into immersive installations, test out your gaming skills and celebrate a revolution in Pittsburgh's nightlife.
Running through Sunday, October 6th
, VIA has been busy setting up shop in a variety of spaces—even constructing their own in some cases—with its most expansive festival to date. Consistently named to Top 10 lists by tastemaking music blogs such as Resident Advisor
, VIA has succeeded in putting Pittsburgh on the international festival map, while also showcasing the city's inherent strengths in terms of talent, venues and collaboration.
What's new in the VIAsphere? For its 4th installment, VIA boasts new collaborations with the 2013 Carnegie International and TechShop, a Resident Advisor Showcase, a special artist-curated mix series called Hear Not Here, all-ages low-cost screenings and new media performances, and custom interactive artist-audience activities. More than 50 artists are particiapting from eight different countries—including that vast land known as the World Wide Web.
When reflecting on the festival's birth and recent growth spurt, VIA co-director and co-founder Lauren Goshinski says: "We really are a four-year-old. We're walking, we're talking, and we are out of diapers. Clearly, we are going to keep getting older." Goshinski, who co-directs VIA with Quinn Leonowicz, is passionate about the playfulness and sense of wonder sparked by the festival's interactive features, including indie gaming and connectivity via social media. As in #VIA2013 #nofilter, which Goshinski says is the answer to anyone's "boring social media."
Participating venues for 2013 are: Brillobox, Carnegie Museum of Art, Alloy Studios, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, The Rex, and the Bayardstown Social Club. Anchoring the festival's main stage showcases on Friday and Saturday is VIA's newest pop-up space, located at 5854 Baum Blvd. (former Family Resources Center) in East Liberty.
Born in 2010, VIA's city-wide “festival as laboratory” approach is one that evolves every year, as the event's curators respond to figures and forces shaping contemporary music and media. Featured over the next five days are collaborative a/v performances, exhibitions, mobile projects, lectures, and workshops that bring together artists and audiences from around the globe, present a window into emerging art forms, and invite the public to actively participate in the intersection of the gallery, studio, laboratory, and nightclub.
Here are just 4 of the many reasons you should be there:
1. VIA + CI2013
Those lucky to have scored VIA's new limited-edition PASSPORT (sold-out as of press time) will enjoy access to the 2013 Carnegie International
's opening night festivities on Friday, October 4th
, as well as to all festival showcases taking place through October 6th. With VIA at the helm curating the music, the International's opening bash
will feature hometown favorite Sharon Needles—winner of RuPaul's Drag Race
Season 4—along with LA-based artist and DJ (aka Ashland Mines) Total Freedom, and local DJ Harry Lurker, who will be sure to unearth plenty of old school electronic, retro underground and classic house LPs for the occasion. For one night, this is the only place to be in terms of contemporary art and music. Friday, October 4th, 9 p.m. at Carnegie Museum of Art
2. World-class performances
On the music front, VIA's 4th run features its consistently impressive lineup of internationally renowned artists, acts and collectives, who reflect a wide range of sonic aesthetics and approaches--from emerging breakout artist Pharmakon (NYC), Detroit-based electro-goth veterans Adult (whose two members currently have artwork on view at the Mattress Factory) and French experimental music pioneer Richard Pinhas, to UK electronic sensation Actress, Portland-based singer and producer Natasha Kmeto, and American techno-dance figure Unicorn Hard-On. Paired with these emerging and groundbreaking acts are many local musicians who have the opportunity to perform alongside festival headliners.
Reflecting its forward-thinking interdisciplinary mission, VIA embodies a dual focus on both music and visual art—with showcases exploring film and video, animation, open source software development, and game design. Within the festival's fluid format, artists perform live alongside musicians to present interactive screenings, installations and workshops that heighten the audience experience.
Featured on VIA's visual arts roster—and hailing from Poland to Pittsburgh—are LaTurbo Avedon, Rollin Leonard, Joe Hamilton/Hyper Geography, V5MT, Theodore Darst, Kevin Ramser, Ben Tabas, Ian Brill/Transmission, Jeremy Bible/Experimedia, and Annapurna Kumar. Augmenting the festival's unique a/v format will be screenings and pegofrmances by Casey Jane Ellison x Miss Daddie, Special Effect (Cartune Xprez), twohundredfiftysixcolors, Acid Rain Reflux [2008-13], GROUP, and Sublime Frequencies.
Go here for a complete VIA Festival schedule
3. Be an avatar & make a 3D scan of your head
Collaboration is at the core of VIA, and the festival has some special virtual and visceral treats lined up for audiences this year. Launching its h3D Space (Head Space)—the live visual environment spanning Friday and Saturday events—VIA invites festival-goers to actively engage with new media. Perhaps VIA's most ambitious undertaking to date, h3D Space combines curated, live and crowd-sourced imagery with virtual appearances from artist-avatars.
Be sure to arrive early at 5854 Baum Blvd. on Friday and Saturday to play the latest indie games, test out innovative scanning software and view contemporary video art. Each night promises to present CGI video content and IRL/virtual "presence” from a different angle, as a way to explore "the tensions between hi-gloss spectacles and the inherent imperfections in 3D technology." Step into h3D Space to get a 3D scan of your face, iphone or keychain on-site with TechShop, to be incorporated into the event's mix and available for download. Don a special backpack unit as you play a tag game in the dark called Joust, and discover the applications of a custom rig, Microsoft Kinect and software such as ZBrush.
Co-curated by VIA director Lauren Goshinski and VIA members Kevin Ramser and Ben Tabas, in collaboration with TechShop and Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama, Head Space is described as a showcase of "virtual characters, figures, faces, avatars and audience members themselves in a playful exploration of narcissism, pseudo-celebrity, and remixing the body." Sounds enticing to us.
4. See Pittsburgh in an entirely new light
In other words, expect the unexpected. Underscoring Pittsburgh's rich legacy in art and innovation, VIA's curators have reimagined the public festival as a living laboratory for the ongoing production, presentation and experience of new music and media. All of the festival's activities are consciously centered around, and informed by, Pittsburgh's authentic neighborhoods, curious and creative audiences and varied topography.
Featuring its signature pop-up venue, this year finds VIA transforming the former Family Resources building located at 5854 Baum Blvd. into its programming HQ for the weekend. Marking its third year in East Liberty, VIA encourages festival-goers to experience both the art and the surroundings from a fresh vantage point.
Reflecting its interest in activating both conventional and underground spaces alike, VIA's programming spans a range of local environments and destinations, including Brillobox, Carnegie Museum of Art, Alloy Studios, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, The Rex Theater, and the new Bayardstown Social Club.
Go here to purchase tickets and view a complete VIA Festival schedule
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