¡A la Máquina! ISEA’s here.
 Alibi V.21 No.37 • Sept 13-19, 2012 

Culture Shock

¡A la Máquina!

The 2012 International Symposium on Electronic Art is soon to raise its glittering, vibrating, chattering, clicking form over the city. It has the potential to be one of the most significant events to center itself here to date.

Starting Wednesday, Sept. 19, an international cast of artists, scientists, technological gurus and members of the public will converge, critique, examine and respond to what organizers have termed our contemporary “machine wilderness.”

The breadth and depth of the resulting dialogue could have lasting impact. New Mexicans comprise at least one-fourth of the ISEA lineup, so it’s possible that local participants will build long-term collaborations. The symposium is meant to elicit practical responses to urgent questions (i.e., what happens when advances in technology create the illusion that our species exists apart from nature?).

Con Orgullo, of Symphony 505

Cross-disciplinary probing, it’s hoped, will spur new ways of seeing, new languages of expression. Such progress will be best served if a good number of us engage in the conversation, too—as audience members asking questions of our own, or simply taking in the colorful spectrum of work.

This last task won’t be hard. A multitude of venues in and out of town will host lectures, film screenings, formal exhibitions, installations, performances and workshops. (For a comprehensive rundown, visit ISEA2012.com.)

And there’s really no excuse for missing the free Downtown Albuquerque Block Party on Sunday, Sept. 23, from 4 to 9 p.m.

Circuitously keeping with the “transportation” theme of the party, two blocks of old Route 66 (Central Ave.) between Fourth and Sixth streets will be closed off. The lull in car traffic will open space for the public to interact with varied art pieces and performances ranging from educational to whimsical.

Among the array of marvels on deck: Herrod Blank's “camera car,” a mobile seed library, and a remote desert exploration vehicle that looks like it'd be right at home on Mars. Axle Contemporary from Santa Fe will install a piece called “We Are Experiencing Some Turbulence” in their mobile art gallery. Artist and inventor Michael Flynn will display his “Electrolysis Detonator,” a hand-cranked electric generator that separates water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen until the elements—explosively—recombine.

The DNA Fire Dance company plans to perform to music controlled by a DJ inside an altered vehicle called the New Mexi-bus. And speaking of of DJs, Kwende Kefentse, a.k.a. DJ Memetric, is traveling all the way from Canada to spin for us—a style of hip-hop that he says “connects the dots” between his Caribbean roots and Toronto's “international-but-perennially-mixed-up culture.”

Don't be so fashionably late that you miss the 6:30 p.m. debut of Symphony 505. Experimental composer Christopher Marianetti, choreographer Mary Margaret Moore and the Down Low Car Club have managed to convert lowrider cars into instruments for a “vehicular orchestra,” complete with sychronized, hydraulic motor-moves. It'll make for a surreal juxtaposition with the usual Sunday night parade of classic, souped-up and lovingly detailed Fords and Chevys crawling up and down surrounding streets.