News Column

Currents 2014: International new media festival

June 13, 2014

By Michael Abatemarco, The Santa Fe New Mexican

June 13--Starting on Friday, June 13, Currents 2014, Santa Fe's homegrown festival of new media, offers a stunning selection of video projection, interactive installations, multimedia art, panel discussions, and performances. New media artists Frank Ragano and Mariannah Amster of Parallel Studios, producers of Currents since its inception, have gathered a considerable amount of dynamic new works for the festival's fifth year. The bulk of the installations are at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, but multiple venues host related events, including Projected at David Richard Gallery, a show of multimedia digital art by Matthew Kluber, Nancy Dwyer, collaborators Max Almy and Teri Yarbrow, and others; and New Media Transforms Tradition at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, an exhibit of new work by Astrid Toha, Sophie Kahn, and other artists.

This year, Ragano and Amster have expanded the number of performance pieces and venues. "At the Lensic on June 20 we've got a performance going on with these guys from London called The Light Surgeons," Ragano told Pasatiempo. Their show, titled SuperEverything, combines documentary footage, music, and motion graphics to explore the cultural landscape of Malaysia. In addition, Flinching Eye Collective presents a number of pop-up performances during the festival's opening night.

The festival has an international roster of artists, but Amster and Ragano typically feature a large selection of local artists, including members of the next generation. Throughout the school year, Ragano engaged New Mexico students in projects designed to increase their understanding of digital media as a tool for art. "I go to six or seven schools here and in Albuquerque and in EspaÑola," Ragano said. "I went to Taos this year too. I show them documentation from the exhibition at El Museo the year before. Then I show them a clip of different styles of single-channel video. There's two things we're trying to do: increase their vocabulary and get them to submit work. This year we have stuff from the Media Arts Collaborative Charter School in Albuquerque, New Mexico School for the Arts, Desert Academy, a small but beautiful installation from Santa Fe Prep, and EspaÑola Valley High." The student video work and installations are presented at El Museo alongside work by professional artists.

Once again, Currents makes use of the Institute of American Indian Arts'Digital Dome for a series of video and film screenings. This year's screenings include interactive works such as Bone Jam by Zack Settel, a 3-D mobile based on visitors' poses captured on video; and Chris Clavio's Mind Chimes, which explores sensory stimuli and mental states using a live brain-wave feed that generates sound and visuals. Shuttles run hourly from El Museo to IAIA on the first two weekends of Currents. Visual works include Texas-based Alejandro Borsani's The Origin of Clouds, in which the artist re-creates cloud chamber experiments for the formation of artificial clouds; New Zealand-based artist Gregory Bennett's Floratopia, a single-channel video animation; and single-channel videography by Peter Daverington, Kate Rhoades, and others. Installations include local artist William Mitchell's Air and Space, an immersive environment with kaleidoscopic images of nature and cityscapes projected onto suspended umbrellas; and Santa Fe-based Michael Schippling's various small robotic works. Currents projects often represent a merging of art and science due to the technology involved, but the organizers' focus is on aesthetics. "It's not about the technology," said Ragano. "The technology has to be in service to the art."

Currents is the second large-scale media show to hit Northern New Mexico in recent weeks. Digital Latin America, a multi-venue exhibit and symposium organized by Albuquerque's 516 Arts, opened earlier in June. Currents and Digital Latin America mark the beginning of New Media New Mexico, an effort by Parallel Studios and 516 to promote media arts in the state. As part of the initiative, the organizations offer free guided tours of their respective exhibitions. The Currents tour is at 11 a.m. at El Museo on June 21. The tour of Digital Latin America is at 516 Arts at 1 p.m. on June 28. Both venues are easily accessible via the Rail Runner Express. Train schedules are available at


The following list covers major happenings at Currents 2014 and exhibitions shown in conjunction with the festival. Admission is free unless otherwise stated. For a complete list of events, performance times, participating artists, and venues, visit


6 p.m. Currents opening reception; festival through 7 p.m.June 29; El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe (555 Camino de la Familia, 505-992-0591)

5 p.m. New Media Transforms Tradition; exhibit throughJuly 19; Zane Bennett Contemporary Art (435 S. Guadalupe St., 505-982-8111)

Projected; exhibit continues through June 29; David Richard Gallery (544 S. Guadalupe St., 505-983-9555)

8:30 p.m.-midnight Outdoor Vision Fest; Railyard Plaza


11 a.m. panel discussion: "The Art of Technology: A New Era of Interactive Creativity" with Joseph B. Smith of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Joshua Jeffrey of the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Mellon University professor Andrew Swensen, artist Sandy Kessler Kaminski, the Carnegie Museum of Art's Jonathan Gaugler, the Pittsburgh Technology Council'sKim Chestney Harvey, and moderator James V. Denova of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

11 a.m.Lee Montgomery: Air Force: Aesthetic Experiments in Aviation (in conjunction with The Curve, Center's annual exhibit of award-winning photography and Dear Erin Hart); exhibits through Aug. 10; Center for Contemporary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail, 505-982-1338)

3:30 p.m. Digital Dome screenings (additional screenings at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 15, 21, and 22); Institute of American Indian Arts (83 Avan Nu Po Road, 505-424-2300


12:30 p.m. workshop: Exploring Sound Design with Convolution and Ableton Live with sound designer Darwin Grosse and musician Andrew Pask; Warehouse 21 (1614 Paseo de Peralta, 505-989-4423)

4 p.m. artist presentation: Oscar Raby: Assent; El Museo

7:30 p.m. first Sunday performances with Karen Schupp, Todd Ingalls, Andrew Pask, Darwin Grosse, and Cory Metcalf; El Museo


8 p.m. screening: The Great Flood (second screening at 8 p.m. on June 25); Jean Cocteau Cinema (418 Montezuma Ave., 505-466-5528)


9 p.m. screening: experimental documentary shorts (second screening at 8 p.m. on June 26); Jean Cocteau Cinema


8:15 p.m. experimental video screening: Drift; El Museo


8 p.m. performance: SuperEverything with The Light Surgeons; Lensic Performing Arts Center (211 W. San Francisco St., 505-988-1234); $15-$25


7 p.m. second Saturday performances with Elaine Bearer, John Carpenter, Tom McVeety, Gary Lee Nelson, Tine Termini, and Noisefold; El Museo


8 p.m. musical performance with video: Luke Carr and Grygrdns; Railyard Plaza

All images courtesy Currents 2014


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Source: Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)

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