Verbindingen/ Jonctions 5

4/05 > 20:00
5-26/05, du mercredi au samedi/van woensdag tot zaterdag/Wednesday to Sunday > 13:00-19:00

In 1997, Constant, the non-profit making organisation, launched its first Verbindingen/Jonctions . As a matter of some urgency, its aim was to further the creative and critical use of new technologies. Since 2000, this festival has been partnered by the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts, and in May this year will be tackling the subject of ‘codes’. Whoever cracks the code has access to whatever needs to be known in order to act, manipulate and indeed even simulate. The programme comprises five rendezvous, clearly explained for the uninitiated: Calculated Cinema or a viewing of the first computer-assisted films, Recompile with ‘–deprecations ’, a programming workshop for artists, activists and the curious; Atelier ‘Performance’ or how several people can create a work, from a distance and in real time; Espace de consultation on surfing creatively, with CD-ROM and videos of popular films that enter the world of the code; and lastly Fête de clôture, keys or codes for immediate access for creating your own material. Welcome to the ‘matrix’….

Concept & Production/Productie/Production: Constant vzw (Bruxelles/Brussel)

Coproduction/Coproductie/Coproduction: KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, The Institute for New Media Performance Research (INMPR) - the School of Performing Arts at the University of Surrey, Musée du Cinéma/Filmmuseum (Bruxelles/Brussel)

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Digital means having the world at your fingertips and having the world at the mercy of numbers. Digital is the binary code that allows you to access information technology. But add a couple of letters and it becomes digitalis, the corolla of purple flowers whose plant substance can either treat or afflict a patient... depending on how it is used and how much is given.

The key theme this year at Verbindingen/Jonctions’ fifth festival is ‘the code’. Four letters – a word inching its way from one discipline to another, having no difficulties with the boundaries between them. Computer code, genetic code, penal code, behavioural code, dress code, secret code. “We could go on ad infinitum listing the times it crops up. And it’s always when you think you’ve grasped it that you find out that the opposite is true. We talk about a code for encrypting data, and we talk about it when we solve a genetic sequence. We refer to a code when handing down a sentence at court, and we share the free code in the Linux venture in which a more powerful and non-restrictive source code was developed to beat Microsoft Windows’ monopoly and which the user is able to appropriate, copy and transform at leisure. Every time the word ‘code’ appears, the question of norms and deviations crops up. Interfaced with a computer, the idea of there being a code gives us the impression that we have a hold on it and are able to simulate everything. But aren’t we having too much faith in it?”

Verbindingen/Jonctions was launched in 1997 by Constant, an organisation which promotes the creative and critical use of new technologies. “In the beginning, we wanted to show the public the best of what new technologies had to offer: the best of the most creative and remarkable videos and CD ROMS. The Internet lacks a list of contents, but the non-market and artistic sector could provide one for it by maximising the means developed by the market sector. However, we soon realised that just showing wasn’t enough. We had to open up the outer casing of the machine and make everyone understand what is inside in – how should we develop the use of interactive resources? We also wanted permanent cultural partners in Brussels who would not normally include new technologies in their activities – the Foundation for Architecture, the body that organises exhibitions at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, galleries and, for the last two years, the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts. We also encourage and assist in the development of artistic Internet sites.”

For Constant, new technologies are not only where new practices are taking place, but also a jungle where important ethical questions are bluntly raised. As a matter of fact, these questions run across all sectors of society in a less blatant way, but without being any less intense. “ The internet raises a whole range of legal, political and economic questions. Who controls this vast machine of production? Can anybody control it? What scope is there for invention? How is a writer protected on it? Who are the programmers? For example, it’s incredible to consider that by knowing the basic characteristics of a graphics programme called Flash, you can immediately locate all the images created with it – they all betray the fact they’ve come from the same mould! It’s amazing to consider that a programmer can invent a computer language where the mathematical formulae used no longer have any bearing on reality. This language becomes reality, even if it means reducing all coherency in relation to what you can see. It’s a frightening leap to make!”

‘Jonctions’ – actions bringing things into contact – is an appropriate name. Constant is always extending its areas of interest towards other disciplines. The issues of ‘model’ and ‘compulsory format’, ‘creativity’ and ‘competitiveness’, the relationship to other things and language are questions that run through the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts. Constant is in contact with a number of philosophers, lawyers, teachers, technicians and artists, research institutes, universities and other organisations. And it is no surprise to see distinct connections within the Festival between Xavier Le Roy, the choreographer who will be at the Kaaitheaterstudio, members of Jonctions and the ‘Capture’ event at the Halles de Schaerbeek.

Let us return to the code. The Verbindingen/Jonctions 5 festival will be taking us on a journey through the myths, applications and metaphors of the code. The first port of call is about archaeology and film. Eugeni Bonet, professor at the University of Barcelona’s faculty of fine arts, director of videos and a well-informed historian, has concocted an astounding programme over seven evenings for the Tapiès Foundation, putting together a selection of the first computer-assisted films. It is entitled Calculated Cinema because it is about films whose images have been calculated by computer, abstract images that enable you to see and sometimes hear on film the digital data of mathematical formulae. Welcome to the beginnings of the matrix...

The second stage of the journey takes place in a laboratory, intended to demystify the practice of programming, identify existing languages and take the first steps in PHP, lingo and DHTML languages, focusing particularly on Flash... “It’s possible to acquire sufficient mastery to undertake logical projects and enter into dialogue with experts. The workshop ‘Recompile with" -deprecations’ is open to artists, activists and anybody interested.” Its title comes from the command given by the computer to the user when he no longer has an up-to-date code at his disposal. It has a strangely religious connotation, ordering you to start again to obtain forgiveness for a fault and, ultimately, access… What is re-compiling and de-compiling a code about? Is a programmer someone who recycles, the inventor of an autonomous world language or someone simply putting together a collage of existing data? Test it out whilst mastering the ‘abc’ of the code world.

The third stage of the journey is another workshop, initiating distance creation by several people on an internet network. Lizbeth Goodman and Vesna Milanovic work at Surrey University in England. Lizbeth is the founder and director of the Institute for New Media Performance Research. To start with, the two feminists developed an interactive distance learning system. Now they are developing an experimental programme around the body in which one or more people direct the image of their bodies live on the net, thus putting themselves in two places at once and leaving their bodily casing behind. They are currently constructing the means for doing this, and its two creators are coming to Brussels to experiment with artists on its possibilities.

The fourth variation of the code is Jonctions’ consultation space containing computers and screens for discovering examples of sites, CD ROMs and – the icing on the cake – a choice of popular films with links to codes, their secrets and their points of access. To finish in real style, Jonctions will be involved in the party evenings at the Halles de Schaerbeek. The ‘Capture’ event expresses different encrypted and decrypted codes in a playful and festive way. There is also a spectacular intervention by Terre Thaemlitz from New York. A practitioner and theoretician on cracking codes, this transsexual musician draws a parallel between techniques used in laser surgery and those of digital music. A discussion and a concert will follow.

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