The Enlightened Nerd: New Media Art at Season’s Music Festival


The Enlightened Nerd is a column designed to enlighten the inner nerd in all of us through local whimsical and intellectual events, people, and places. Know a nerdy person, event, place, or thing in Vancouver? Send it in here or tweet it to @karolinathecat (#theenlightenednerd)!

Season's Music Festival 2015
Season’s Music Festival 2015

The triadic force of new media art and technology companies Hybridity, Tangible and HFour will be bringing Season’s Music Festival to a new and vibrant level this year through their creative and innovative styles in lighting, production, and design. Season’s revelers won’t just be hearing the sweet synths of Porter Robinson, the hyperactive bass of Knife Party, or the smooth instrumentals of Ekali, but actually viewing these sounds through interactive new media art displays at different venues.

Vancouver artist Malcolm Levy has streets-ahead skill for new media art and is the curating wizard for Season’s Music Festival. Some of his work includes the media arts organization, New Forms Media Society, the music and new media label, Hybridity, and the audio-visual manipulating Generate App, which all focus on the unification of art, music, film and technology. While Hybridity works with trans-disciplinary artists, HFour creates engaging experiences for audiences through art, design, technology and storytelling.

I spoke with Tangible Interaction founder and creative director, Alex Beim, about what exactly is Tangible and the technological surprises they have in store for Season’s goers. Similar to HFour, Tangible is a creative design studio that creates interactive environments and experiences to connect guests with the present moment, be that an art installation or a music festival. They have a huge emphasis on sensory installations like responsive lighting, which encourages people participation. Tangible has worked with many Canadian indie electronic music acts like Purity Ring, Ryan Hemsworth, Humans, and Trust. They designed Purity Ring’s ethereal lighting set which consisted of beautifully coloured cocoon-shaped responsive lights, which the trip-pop duo toured with all over the world.

The backbone of Tangible’s work is technology, whether it be electronics, graphic design, audio, programming, physical design, or mechanical engineering. “We use whatever technology is needed for the project and experience to make it happen,” Alex said. Along with being tech-savvy nerds, Tangible workers have artistic backgrounds and an interest in the concept of space and creating memorable moments for audiences.

Array, courtesy of Tangible Interaction
Array, courtesy of Tangible Interaction

For Season’s Music Festival, the Tangible team was inspired to create a piece that was compatible with an environment filled with music, dancing and overall good vibes. At music shows, “lighting is a huge part of the space although it is very removed from the individual,” Alex said, “so we wanted to give the audience an opportunity to play with lighting and be the ones conducting the show in a way.” Tangible’s masterwork will be a large cube of light, called Array, that one will be able to control with a game pad, including things like animations and colours that respond to music and movement. I can already imagine the line-ups, but Alex avowed that although the experience will be for one person to control at a time, everyone watching will definitely enjoy it too. This magical and futuristic cube will be inaugurated in the brand new underground space at Celebrities Night Club during Season’s Music Festival and will be quite striking for all that enter. Along with Array, “there will be immersive installations, projections and photographic based work throughout the space to really take advantage of all corners,” said Malcolm Levy.

Electronic dance music is complementary to new media art like peanut butter and jelly or Vancouver and it’s awesomeness. I attend music festivals and shows for the artists and their musical ability but the experience always sticks with me because of the hypnotic lighting and visual art, which I now know I have companies like Tangible, HFour, and Hybridity to thank!