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New Media: Showing ‘individualised yet universal experience’

Sunday, September 22, 2013

For the third consecutive year, ARC Magazine has partnered with the T&T Film Festival to produce and co-ordinate New Media 2013, which is currently on view at Medulla Art Gallery through September 27. New Media is a platform that contributes to the development of artists who are working with experimental media and within formats that are usually marginalised and underrepresented. The planning stages for New Media started in March when the core curatorial team comprising Melanie Archer, Emilie Upczak, Nadia Huggins and I established guidelines for the open call for works, launched in April. The guidelines made it clear that we were seeking content emerging from the Caribbean and its diaspora, or works dealing with Caribbean themes, and issues pertinent to the expansion of this space. The call garnered 88 submissions with the majority coming in from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Colombia, T&T and the typical hotspots like the UK, USA, France, the Netherlands and Canada. It was surprising to see numerous applications from South America and Asia. 



Considering ARC’s role in the development of New Media’s curated collection, we want to challenge both artists and the public to reconsider and re-evaluate evolving art traditions and their proliferation. How do these technologies interfere or extend their conception of social spaces, and how does the viewer’s experience shift while engaging with such works? It was also of importance to focus on themes that expose the evolution of these artists’ articulations, while supporting works that challenge normative narratives and confront failures of representation; in other words, works that epitomise an individualised yet universal experience. Contemporary artists and those working with new media rely heavily on the critical examination of political, social and gendered elements of their daily lives. The various non-linear approaches to understanding commonalities and experiences are now becoming significant to the way they define ideologies, process and form. We received many interactive pieces and noticed a shift in how artists are now combining sound and light works.



There is a sense of deep exploration and experimentation running rampant as they attempt to translate ephemeral and transitory concepts to a very immediate, immersive and sensory experience. Two of the highlighted pieces this year, Olivia McGilchrist’s Native Girl and Rodell Warner’s First Light aka Light Tracks render and play in provocative ways with ideas of transcendence, history and narratives. This exposes a field of investigation rich with refinement and fluidity. The balance of these experimentations with more formal works is the strength of New Media 2013. Moving forward we continue to highlight New Media and its presence as a significant part of the festival’s programming. Artists and film enthusiasts are already deeply involved in the project and the freedom that it has given to practitioners across the region. New Media has also developed social activities and formal artist talks where the public can come out and engage in the wider discussion around the relevance of platform. New Media 2013 will adopt an exhibition-style screening format, where selected works will be played on a loop daily from 11 am-4 pm. These daily screenings will be complemented by a number of unique evening events, including a closing night performance by Trinidadian artist Rodell Warner on September 27, starting at 6 pm. 


Holly Bynoe is a visual artist, curator and writer from St Vincent and the Grenadines. Bynoe is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine, a visual art and culture publication. 


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