Resonate is a new media festival which has reached its 3rd edition this year. Resonate brings together a vast and heterogeneous crowd, from designers of all kinds to new media artists. The talks are held by top professionals, and their subjects are what you’d want to hear about in 2014: the most complex projects at the intersection of art, design and technology. And it’s in Belgrade.
Of all cities, Belgrade seems to be very similar in nature to ours. The center of the city is full of old architecture, majestic buildings and narrow walkways. There are blocks of communist flats around the city, but you can easily miss them if you stay near the center. A difference would be that Belgrade has lots of hills (we didn’t see any longboarders, but it would be an awesome city to do that). It’s also more pedestrian-friendly — they have lots of streets with only 2 lanes, flanked by trees on each side, plus a few pedestrian-only walkways (which Bucharest oddly seems to be missing).
There’s lots of cool places to visit – most of which were presented in the festival guide – from organic restaurants in abandoned buildings (http://www.gnezdoorganic.rs/en/) to renovated multi-purpose art centers in old factories (http://www.mikser.rs/en/). The gem on the crown is the Danube, which goes through the city, and the river bank filled with nice cafes.
When we say similar, we must also take the people into consideration. All in all, the atmosphere gave you the feeling of pre-EU Bucharest. What’s interesting is that even if they’re not in the EU, the creative community seems to have benefited from funds to develop their projects – Mikser house- a center for Balkan arts, being the best example. They also seem to have a tradition in design (which we lack almost completely), one that partly explains why they have a new media festival going on in their city.
Now, let’s get to the actual festival. Filip Visnjic is the founder of CreativeApplications.net, a leading editorial platform for digital art. He seems like a really nice guy, mainly because he thought it was a good idea to bring the most talented and talked about practitioners in the world to Belgrade and gather them around a niched festival where they should talk about their work. In a 4-day tour de force they hosted 41 talks, 15 workshops (all of which would seem sci-fi to a general audience), 4 screenings, 10 performances, 3 projects done especially for Resonate and 5 panels.
You could see people from UK, the States, Japan, Germany & most of the countries with a tradition in related domains strolling around Belgrade, going from venue to venue. The schedule was tight and many talks overlapped (planned or unplanned, this is what got some people annoyed), but if you managed to plan ahead you could see industry legends like Daito Manabe, Karsten Schmidt, Andreas Muller, Elliot Woods, Kyle Macdonald, Aaron Koblin or Klaus Obermaier, to name few, give out great presentations.
Daito presenting his work, wearing a funny beanie, being translated by one of his japanese friends, Yuri Suzuki. He talked about experiments with myoelectric sensors on his face and limbs, which he could control using various input -see info here: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/hacking-the-human-body-meet-daito-manabe
There was a nice project for Honda which he also presented: http://www.daito.ws/en/work/sound_of_honda_senna.html
Aaron Koblin talking about his independent work and the work done as a Creative Director of the Data Arts at google. He also has a TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_koblin
Kyle McDonald, Klaus Obermaier and Daito Manabe collaborating on a performance called Transcranial – unfortunately, we’ve got no link since the work is not online yet, but we can tell you that they combined the best features in their work – http://resonate.io/2014/transcranial/ for more info.
Elliot Woods. That’s it. Guess you had to be there. Here’s a link to Kimchi and Chips, his art and design studio with Mimi Son, who unfortunately couldn’t be at Resonate: http://www.kimchiandchips.com/
Sunni Pavlovic, the studio manager and geeky genius at thatgamecompany, took us on an amazing Journey (see what we did here?) about their forward-looking approach to games. They shape interactions in a natural way and the emotional component in games is their bible. Flower, FlOw and Journey are the studio’s successful games and you can check more info about them here:http://thatgamecompany.com/
Joanie Lemercier talking about his work with video mapping: https://vimeo.com/76056173 while talking about his process, while talking about the ideas behind his work, while talking about the software he uses, while gesticulating frantically.
A few conclusions
Getting to Belgrade by train is a pain in the ass. You first have to go to Timisoara, then get your ticket towards Vrsac, a small town where you change trains to Belgrade, where you arrive in a building that’s supposed to be the international train station but which looks more like a smuggling facility. By plane, it costs more than flights to other major european capitals (like Vienna for example) – mainly because not many people fly here – mainly because it’s too damn expensive.
Bucharest could learn a great many things for Belgrade. And Belgrade from Bucharest. There aren’t many ties between us and the serbs, when there should be, especially in the creative industries. If a city that didn’t benefit from being a EU capital can host a festival like this, why can’t we do it as well? What were the factors of the past that determined the present situation and can they be turned around in our favor? Those are some questions worth finding the answer for.
What we appreciated and what we’ll always respect is that a small group of people put together this whole thing and managed to bring some of the brightest talents together. Resonate is a great festival, and it’s even greater is that it’s right here, near our doorstep, in the dreaded Balkans that might hold a few surprises.
Be sure to check it out next year! http://resonate.io/