Currents: Santa Fe International New Media Festival
El Museo Cultural 555 Camino de la Familia
FORGET THE INFORMATION PAMPHLET FOR THE CURRENTS: SANTA FE INTERNATIONAL New Media Festival (June 10-26); “The Garden of
whispered about between Currents staff members,
their hands and electrodes strapped to their arms. The
Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges is a suitable
everything hums reliably.
artist makes a brief announcement and then vanishes
guide to the exhibition. In the 1941 short story, the
On opening night, Marcus Zuniga sits at a picnic
behind her collaborators to fiddle with a laptop. The
Argentine magical realist explores the concept of
table outside of SITE Santa Fe, with a video projection
bell choir springs to life as electric pulses force the
a world where all potential outcomes of an event
titled Space cast above him on the building’s facade.
volunteers to jerk their arms into the air. The crowd
play out in tandem. Webs of bifurcating possibilities
Visitors stop by and peer up at pinpricks of light
laughs at first but sobers up as the song approaches its
diverge and intersect, forming an infinite labyrinth.
that swirl like a shattered moon. The artist spliced
tenth minute, and the participants start to grimace from
Among the rumbling machines and flickering
together codes from the internet (digital found
the constant stimulation. The experiment takes on
specters of Currents, a similarly staggering array
objects, if you will) to create the animation. There’s a
the tone of an Orwellian nightmare as one performer
of scenarios unfolds at once. Films play at varying
quiet melancholia to this cosmic ballet.
visibly shakes, his teeth bared in an uncanny grin,
intervals, installations spring to life in reaction to
Near El Museo Cultural’s main entrance, a
veins popping from his arms. A glance behind the
the movements of the crowd, and virtual reality
white tent shelters a nine-foot-tall, translucent cube
choir reveals that the artist has abandoned her laptop, and a computer program is conducting the performance. It’s chilling to realize that no one is behind the curtain with a finger on the kill switch. The ringers play on. Gentler interactions play out through the rest of the show. There’s Reilly Donovan’s Brane-Xels, a platform covered in pixels that rearranges itself into ghostly, threedimensional figures when viewed through a smartphone app. In Susanna Carlisle and Bruce Hamilton’s Debris, a field of fractured glass orbs distorts a video projection of garbage dumps. Visitors reach up to spin and swing the globes, watching their silhouettes eclipse images of plastic bottles and splintered wooden boards. The virtual reality experiences at Currents are the show’s biggest revelations. Virtual
advanced in leaps and bounds over the course of the festival’s existence, and this is its long-awaited moment. Visitors can don an Oculus Rift to soar through fleshy, glowing caverns in Graham Wakefield and universes offer endless adventures for the small price
that periodically fills to the brim with pulsating light.
Haru Ji’s Endless Current and explore a remarkable
of donning a silly headset. There’s so much content to
Artist Devin Fleenor packed S.E.E.D. (Stellar Emissions
choose-your-own-adventure music video by Nicholas
experience in this neon jungle that two people could
Encapsulation Device) with lasers, mirrors, and LED
Dimichele, titled Rust Golem.
visit all the same corners of El Museo Cultural and
screens that visitors can play like an instrument by
In one corner of the show, an installation called
emerge from the darkness with completely different
moving throughout the tent. Most of the artifice is
Syncdon II, by Issey Takashi and Akihito Ito, records
tales to tell.
hidden in thin beams that make up the cube’s skeleton.
a visitor’s heartbeat and displays it as a series of
The nonprofit new media festival, now in its
It’s an artwork that almost vanishes from existence
glowing circles on a large screen. After two minutes
sixth year, has grown up alongside the technologies
when dormant but seduces viewers like moths to a
of listening, the machine displays the closest rhythmic
that it showcases. For an exhibition that’s known for
giant light bulb from its first flare.
match with another heartbeat in its ever-growing
its interactivity, this is by the far its most experiential
Through a spindly archway by local sculptor and
database. It’s a reminder that despite the dizzying
entry. It’s like going to a show of wet clay sculptures
aerialist Jamie Hamilton, the main exhibition bustles
possibilities at Currents, our experiences inevitably—
and gleefully leaving your fingerprints everywhere.
with activity. The crowd has been chattering about a
There’s something irresistible about an exhibition
performance piece by Australian artist Michaela Davies,
— Jordan Eddy
that ripples with the slightest wave of your hand.
and she’s busy preparing several volunteers to execute
But for a few glitchy artworks hidden from view and
it. In Duty, seven people stand in a semicircle with bells in
J U LY
Susanna Carlisle and Bruce Hamilton, Debris, 2016, installation view.
THE magazine | 53