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06 Sep 2009

Programme highlights: Shift – Electronic Arts Festival in Basel

© Ebony Bones

Magic. Tech-Evocations and Assumptions of Paranormal Realities


October 22-25 2009

+41 61 331 58 40
+41 61 331 58 42

Basel/Münchenstein, Dreispitz, Gate 13

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From the dazzling shaman of dance music Ebony Bones to electro pioneers Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius aka Cluster, from Susan Collins' live-video broadcast from a haunted house in Britain and real-time tech-necromancy courtesy of Hamburg robotics artists F18, to seriously fathoming the borders of reality with the video medium: with Magic. Tech-Evocations and Assumptions of Paranormal Realities as its theme, Shift guarantees an enchantingly varied programme. From 22nd–25th October the festival will be rolled out at the Dreispitzareal and at the Schaulager in Basel/Münchenstein.

The music programme at Shift showcases the latest shooting stars and legendary pioneers of electro music. It presents cosmic music, the fusion of digital sampling and compelling jazz drums, as well as the beguiling sounds of the mother of all synthesizers, the theremin.

And there are more highlights besides:

26-year-old Brit Ebony Bones, whose recently released CD 'Bone of My Bones' has made a huge splash in a whole range of media, will be taking the stage with her usual poise and flamboyance. The 'exception in pop culture' (NZZ) serves up a broad spectrum of effervescent sounds, from post-punk thru' funk to world music.
The minds behind the alias Cluster are the renowned German kraut-rock trailblazers Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Since the 60s, a persistently avant-garde spirit of adventure has driven their creation of an eclectic musical cosmos and, though opinions diverge, they are considered pioneers of kraut rock, cosmic music, ambient, techno or even of the current cosmic disco movement.

A happy encounter indeed, when the two extremely different and interesting personalities Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) and Steve Reid get together: Hebden ranks among the most talented exponents of the more recent wave of electronic music while legendary jazz drummer Reid can look back on concerts with Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Sun Ra and James Brown, to name but a few.
A native of Graz now resident in New York, Dorit Chrysler is one of the very few people in the world to have mastered the theremin. As if by magic she lures tantalizing sounds from her 'untouchable' instrument simply by moving her hands within an electromagnetic field. In her new set 'Houdini Effect', the composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer enchants her audience with dense, atmospheric music from the ether.

The exhibition presents a diverse range of around 20 international positions on magic channels and the magic powers of artists and their media.
Here too, a small sample of what is in store:

The belief that one might communicate with the dead by means of technical media such as radio, magnetic tape or TV was systematized and propagated in the mid-twentieth century by parascientists. Canadian group The Einstein's Brain Project approached these methods from a novel angle: it uses face recognition software (such as is used for surveillance purposes) as ghost recognition software.
In a live broadcast from a haunted house in the UK, Londoner Susan Collins combines the idea of the haunting ­– which is to say also the communicative – dead with that of 'ghosts in the machine': the latter a term for the mistakes that appear to inhabit our communication channels.

New Yorker artist Zoe Beloff uses a 3D video projection to breathe new life into Eva C, a spiritist medium who had Paris under her spell in the early twentieth century.

Exhibition visitors will also be able to observe how the ghosts, once raised, hang out and make themselves comfortable, perhaps in the exhibition venue kitchen – in an appropriate ambiance conjured by F18, robotics artists from Hamburg.
A defining feature of a programming code is its ability to make something appear or begin to move – it is no different in this respect from a magic spell or incantation. The work of Zurich-based artist Shusha Niederberger taps into this interesting parallel.

The conference organized in collaboration with Ordinariat Prof. Dr. Georg Christoph Tholen of the Department of Media Studies at the University of Basle this year goes into its third edition. Ten guest lecturers were invited to illuminate the festival theme from their respective fields­ – media studies, art history or film studies. They are PD Dr. phil. habil. Wolfgang Hagen, Prof. Dr. Martin Stingelin, PD Dr. phil. habil. Stefan Kramer, Prof. Dr. Hubertus von Amelunxen, Dr. Oliver Fahle, Dr. Anne Jerslev, Prof. Dr. Ute Holl, Frank Furtwängler, Prof. Dr. Sabine Doering-Manteuffel and Frank Nordhausen. By kindly offering to host the conference in its auditorium the Schaulager has joined us as a new partner.

The video and performance programme
takes a playful, enchanting, cryptic, humorous and also self-reflective approach to exploring the festival theme. Shift has again invited several guest curators to compile video programmes: Verena Kuni, Stephan Hauser, Rachel O. Moore and Valérie Perrin. Two performances are also planned: a lecture performance by Erik Bünger from Stockholm and a live audio-play by Hamburg-based musician Felix Kubin. One new departure is that screenings and performance will also take place in the Schaulager; another is that the cinema on wheels 'Mobileskino Basel' will be showing short films by film pioneer Georges Méliès and his peers.

Under the title, 'Shift in Progress' Shift is once again offering students at Swiss art schools a chance to present a piece of work on the festival theme. The institutional line-up includes the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and Bern University of the Arts.

The Shift Festival of Electronic Arts 2009
is the third edition of this annual event in Basle. The festival relies on the generous support of various foundations and public funding bodies, above all that of the Christoph Merian Foundation, the Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft Lottery funds and the Swiss Federal Ministry of Culture.