Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/videojackstudios/sets/72157609560643594

Event: Electro Mechanica Festival
AVOL, Heat Seeker and Master and Margarita Audio-Visual performances; VJ performance
Place: Sergey Kuryohkin Modern Art Center , St. Petersburg, Russia
Dates: 13-15/11/2008
13/11/2008 – Audio-Visual Performances
14/11/2008 – VJing performance

1. About the Festival

Video Jack (me and André Carrilho) performed twice on the Electro Mechanica Festival. On 13/11/2008, we presented our main Audio-Visual projects so far: Heat Seeker, AVOL, and Master and Margarita. We also talked about the projects and had a Q&A session with the audience. In the end, members of the audience came on stage to talk with us and take a closer look at the software we have developed.

Overall, the audience was very enthusiastic about our performance and asked many questions. Press also was quite curious regarding our show, particular concerning Master and Margarita. Namely, we were interviewed by national TV channel REN and local TV channel 100TV.

We were particularly curious to find out what was the audience’s reaction to Master and Margarita, an “adaptation” of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel. It was the first time we presented this Audio-Visual project (although only a third of it is complete at this point). The book is quite popular in Russia, so we assumed most of the audience was familiar with it. Indeed, many members of the audience commented to us (in the Q&A session and more informally afterwards) that we managed to capture the spirit of the novel and that we were faithful to Bulgakov’s innovative vision. Some manifested surprised at how two Portuguese artists managed to get and understanding of the novel and of Russian culture… The audience also seemed to prefer Master and Margarita to our previous projects.

These reactions gave us confidence to develop Master and Margarita further, and present it in other places. We hope to finish the project by March.

On the following day, we presented a more “normal” VJing performance, with DJs Aabzu and Jacek Sienkiewicz (both from Poland).

From the other artists participating on the festival, I would highlight:
Mouse on Mars, Frank Bretschneider, Thomas Brinkmann, Ryoji Ikeda

The festival took place in a 70’s theatre, in Vasilyevsky Island, with a certain decadent modernist charm: Sergey Kuryokhin Modern Art Center (former Priboi cinema). The center is named after the Russian artist/composer:

Link to the festival:

Links to the Video Jack Audio-Visual projects:

2. Other art/academic activities in St.Petersburg

As I stayed in St. Petersburg for one week, I wanted to also do some networking there, and visit art/new media related places (thanks to Antti Ikonen and Timur Kuyanov from Media Lab Helsinki for providing links to the community there).

I contacted the Interactive Art department of the St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television and was invited for a lecture there. Me and André visited the department on 17/11/2008. We were given a tour of the department, shown student’s works and we talked with the staff. We were received with great hospitality, and were surprised to see that our visit was prepared in advanced and that the students were familiar with our work. We gave a 90 minute talk about our work and projects.

I also visited two art centers, and met several new media artists.

Nepokorennie (a former missile factory!) is a very interesting art studio complex. The artistic community there is very active, and they organize regularly festivals and other events.

Etage Loft is a unique modern art center, a 5-floor building with different large-sized galleries (and a very nice bar). Globe Gallery is on the top floor, and it is a fascinating space, welcoming many different types of art forms.

3. Impressions from the city

St. Petersburg is indeed a gorgeous town, with an incredibly history. It even exceeded my expectations, despite having read a lot about the city and Russian history. I was surprised that the city looks so well-preserved and clean (in the center at least). A lot of renovation work is going on there. I was also impressed by the hospitality and warmth of Russian people.

Photos from the city:

I also found the area of the festival and of the hotel where we stayed (Vasilyevsky Island) fascinating, a mixture of some of the oldest buildings in town (Peter the Great originally planned it would be the main part of town, which didn’t happen) and 60/70s huge monolithical housing blocks.

Photos from Vasilyevsky Island: