Several artists performing? That’s a festival. Day-specific, caste-identifying wristband? Yup, that’s a festival. Onesie army? Hey, there’s a festival. Mini-donuts? Festival.
How do you differentiate one festival from another? “Attention, new-wave grime-step lovers!” The festi-verse has fractured into innumerable subdivided bits of sub-subgenres. It can make for a confusing landscape.
Amongst the mess, one Vancouver festival has managed to remain wildly unique and innovative, focusing on its mission of “promoting collaborations between Canadian artists, international artists, and those working in the technology sector [through facilitating] the production, display and growth of new media, music, film, installation, and performance art based practices.”
It’s the New Forms Festival. Founded in 2000, the New Forms Media Society has at its core “the recognition of independent and groundbreaking artists, and those contributing to a broader understanding on new genres of art making.” Festival alumni include such notables as Actress, Kassem Mosse, Kode9, Shlohmo, and a slew of others.
This year’s festival runs from September 18 to 21 at Science World. “Each year at New Forms, we always choose different venues and locations that we like to take over and intersect with the architecture and the overall framework of the space, giving it new meaning in ways of enjoying them and experiencing them,” says Festival director Malcolm Levy. “So this year, having it at Science World, it’s definitely a huge win for the Festival. It’s something that, curatorially, we’ve wanted to see happen for a long time.”
Of course, ideally, the best way to experience the electric, eclectic New Forms is to get your full pass and bounce around Science World all weekend. “The three dome performances, I’m really excited for, that’ll be happening in the Omnimax,” says Levy. “They’re very interesting and very different. One is showing visuals by Stan VanDerBeek [Sept. 18], one of the founders of media arts. He created the work specifically while studying under Buckminster Fuller. Antivij is coming from France to do a site-specific performance in the dome [Sept. 19], and then on the third day, ARCA is performing with Jesse Kanda, and Oneohtrix Point Never with Nate Boyce, that’s going to be very exciting.”
When asked where a New Forms newbie should begin, Levy suggests the Friday and Saturday nights. “There’s a lot to see, a lot to check out. You can find something for everyone in that.”
Whereas other festivals struggle to differentiate themselves, New Forms’ strength is that it sticks out by remaining true to its mandate, operating on the cusp and showcasing what’s happening – or oftentimes, what’s just about to happen – in technology, music, and the limitless areas in between.
View the full schedule for this year’s New Forms Festival here.
[Editor’s note (Leslie Ken Chu): Madlib’s performance, originally scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 18, has been postponed. Date TBA. Thursday late night single tickets, late night festival passes, and full festival passes will be honoured for the makeup show.]