Techa Beaumont has been the creative force behind the highly innovative Tekstar – an event that sees digital arts converge on Byron Bay. Kicking off last week at Kulchajam, the event concludes this weekend with a spectacular all-day program called The Konvergence at the Byron Sports and Cultural Centre. The day (and night) includes a youth program, a SCU new media symposium, workshops, panels, programs and performances that showcase Australia’s high ten creatives. Techa spoke with Seven about the event.
Can you tell me about the inspiration for the event?
Tekstar festival was inspired by a desire to bring the artistic community of the northern rivers together to collaborate and share skills. We chose electronic arts as a platform because of the potential to invite new ideas and expand everyone’s capacity of what is possible. To do something a little different and encourage us all to dream! At Kulchajam we have run some beautiful winter solstice gathering so we merged this to create the idea of a winter festival of light, sound, art and technology.
How have you managed to bring it all together? Was it a massive task?
We received a regional partnership grant from Arts NSW that enabled three arts collectives Byron Bay, Uki and Lismore to come together to create the program. The inspiration for an annual festival has been borne from our desire to create lasting networks that can grow and to seed collaborations and connections in the community. It has been a massive task as a grassroots community-based initiative, fuelled by the energy of a small but dedicated team of volunteers.
What do you think the appeal of electronic arts is?
Electronic art covers such a massive range of creative expression, and invites amazing innovations in traditional art forms such as painting and songwriting. In this way it touches everyone. The main evening show, the Konvergence on 20 June at the Byron Sports and Cultural complex brings together live digital painting and animation in a unique collaboration with local music legend Greg Sheehan. That is just one of seven amazing acts over the single evening ranging from motion sensor based audio-visual performances, a traditional DJ and VJ and a robotic dog as the mc for the night. The evening’s opening incorporates paintings from local Arakwal man Sean Kaye animated into the building as part of a ‘digital sunset’ and closes with a magical star vision Dream Drone digeridoo journey. We will be revealing how digital arts can appeal to everyone and be potent fuel for our creativity in many ways.
What are the events that you think will attract the most attention?
The Konvergence: the main event of the festival is definitely the crowd pleaser and also an incredible showcase event that the region may not ever have seen before. Running from 11am to 11pm, a youth program in the morning will include a visit by ABC Kids icon Dirtgirl while local ‘Earth guardians’ youth will set up a recording studio. Workshops, installations, presentations, 3D virtual reality demonstrations, video art, an interactive vintage ‘tek’ museum are just some of the treats in store during the day, while the evening show is an even more expansive and inspiring showcase of the magical worlds people can create when they merge creativity, art and technology.
We want people to get involved, whether as volunteers, as participants in workshops, or our 48-hour Art Hackathon which has artists showcasing what they do in new ways, or audiences that want to come and interact. Participation and interactivity are two ideas we are exploring through the artists presenting at the festival, and there are opportunities for everyone to engage.
Do you think that work of computer geeks is the next frontier for visual art?
Someone said to me the other day ‘coding is the new beebop’ I don’t think we are quite there yet but there is definitely an amazing flowering of artforms incorporating 3D and virtual reality – which rely heavily on ‘geek power’ – enabling visual concepts to be realised in more powerful and sensory ways.
Can you describe some of the individual projects or installations to me?
Melbourne based Ethno Tekh present an incredible audio-visual show that will have the crowd dancing, all triggered by movements of the performer on stage.
Si Mullumby, of Wild Marmalade will be presenting his dream drone meditative Didge Journey to end the Thursday evening show with star vision immersive visual projections. Greg Sheehan and other local musician maestros will perform live in an improvised narrative with contemporary artist Kellie O’Demspey whose digital painting is animated live during the show. Australian video remix artists show a feature length film Hollywood Burn in which they have cut together footage from iconic Hollywood films to create a feature length film that proposes a new ‘cultural narrative’. That’s just a little taster of the diverse acts that make up Tekstar 2013.
What should we expect for this coming weekend?
We invite people to come on a winter wonderland tour of the region. It all starts in Byron on Thursday with our unique all day and magical evening show The Konvergence, a not to be missed winter wonderland experience. We then tour to Uki for a special immersive visionary art experience and winter solstice GLOdance event on Friday and take some installation and visual projections to add more colour to the Lismore Lantern Parade.