Austin’s status as the first and only U.S. city to receive a “City of Media Arts” designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has already benefited local artists such as Clay Odom, whose multimedia installation Flowering Phantasm was part of UNESCO’s “Data City” exhibition outside Paris last spring.
This spring, the city’s UNESCO designation will yield an even bigger bounty, this time on home turf. As part of a UNESCO Media Arts Showcase, South by Southwest and the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division will feature installations by local artists or artist teams at the Four Seasons in Downtown Austin.
The four pieces will all explore the intersection of art and technology.
- Forgotten Landscapes by James Hughes and Ha Na Lee is modeled after Edison’s Kinetoscope and uses interactive, 360-degree virtual reality videos featuring Austin landscapes to connect viewers to the last known locations of missing persons.
- Lisa Woods’s Gathering invites participants to use their hands as a canvas for storytelling, exploring group portraiture and participatory art and celebrating how technology can help tell stories in new ways.
- Yuliya Lanina’s Herstory, a motion-activated sculpture of a miniaturized, distorted version of the artist, is accompanied by fiddler bunny in a golden dress playing original music by Yevgeniy Sharlat.
- Luke Savisky’s Passage (Variation) deploys a three-dimensional, virtual passageway made of flickering, multilayered white light emanating from multiple vintage 16mm projectors to conjure cinematic memory and perceptual illusion.
The installations are an official part of SXSW’s art program and its new Cities Summit. They’ll be accompanied by a SXSW panel discussion highlighting the global initiatives of the UNESCO.
In addition, visitors to the Media Arts Showcase, which will take place at the Four Seasons Downtown, will also have an opportunity to explore two art installations on more long-term view in Austin.
- Wander, an interactive art project and app that gets users exploring Downtown Austin in an immersive, “choose your own adventure” fashion, created by artists Chris Gannon, Chadwick Wood, and Brockett Davidson, with contributions from local authors and illustrators, created under the city’s Art in Public Places program.
- Shadowing by Chomko & Rosier, which uses city streetlights to capture and project shadows of passersby, will be on view in select locations around the city during the SXSW festival.