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DMF2001: Borderless Art

By Fatima Lasay

MANILA, Philippines - As the United States launched the air attacks October 7 in Afghanistan, I had just welcomed three foreign guests at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for the Digital Media Festival 2001 (DMF2001). I greeted Japanese film and video artist Takahiko Iimura and his art coordinator Kazuyo Yasuda at the Philippine Airlines Centennial Airport Terminal and fineArt forum's (fAf) editor-in-chief Nisar Keshvani from Singapore at the NAIA Terminal 1. As I saw their faces for the first time, I affirmed that art (and not war) is borderless.

Our first stop was my mother's home to meet with members of my family, then a quick visit to the Festival venue, the Corredor Gallery of the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UPCFA). As Kazuyo handed me prints of Taka's installation video and CD-ROM works to be mounted in the gallery, and as Taka sat before the iMac and started clicking on the mouse, I grew to believe more in the calming and unifying power of being passionate of a gift that bridges cultures.

Monday October 8, DMF2001 opened with ribbon-cutting ceremonies headed by UP Diliman Chancellor Emerlinda Roman with UPCFA Dean Virginia B. Dandan, Taka, Nisar and myself. Artists' Talks with Jim Ayson, Ben Razon, Al Manrique and Lionel Valdellon followed, covering topics from digital photography, digital art to electronic music. Tuesday's highlights were fineArt forum's Travelling Screening Program, Nisar's lecture, Taka's video, film and work on CD-ROM, lunch with the college executive board, a workshop-demo on non-linear video editing, and a night at the UP Film Center to see "The Harp of Burma" and meet with the Japanese ambassador to the Philippines.

Wednesday, Ronnie Millevo conducted the DMF2001 Flash workshop, and we moved on to Manila for the Metropolitan Museum, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the GSIS Museum. We passed by the US Embassy and saw the protest rally, experienced heavy traffic, saw the slum areas, the street children, the high rise buildings, the shopping malls; we had Starbucks coffee, Chinese food, local buffet dinner, Lebanese lunch; while in the morning papers it's always the war offshore, the conflict down south, anthrax, the political and economic crisis. It is easy to feel how swiftly and mindlessly the world moves around us and it is even easier to become trapped into its roundabout journey, to sit hypnotized as if in front of the screen watching a (very bad) movie. Then some of us snap out of that trance and live in a borderless world that respects and actively bridges cultures with the purpose of making life better through art.

Thursday and Friday of DMF2001 were devoted to videos - outstanding videos by mostly young artists from all across the globe. We screened Multimedia Art Asia Pacific's "Oil Friction" and "Excess" videos from China and Australia; a second look at fAf's one-hour program from Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Philippines, France, Taiwan and USA; we also looked at artists' videos sent in from Romania, Greece, USA, and Australia. Throughout the Thursday screenings in the dimmed Corredor Gallery, the movement and scenes in Margaret Roberts' "Cook East Cook West" installation video seemed constantly to serve as our window to the fast moving outside world.

The screenings, especially the fAf Screening Program which focused on rich cultural digital content, reinvigorated enthusiasm in video art at the University and encouraged many young video artists to pursue excellence in their work. With technical assistance from Computer Devices Corporation, I am currently working on a modernization plan for the video art elective course with Prof. Benjie Cabangis, aiming to acquire funding for new and better equipment for digital video editing in UPCFA. We all have our fingers crossed.

Also throughout the event, computers served artists' CD-ROMs and websites from Brazil, Argentina, Germany, USA, Estonia, Australia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, Thailand, Canada and Japan. Experimental and electronic music from Japan and Gavin Prior's Lachrymal of Ireland played in the background.

Audience favorites include Australian Michelle Glaser, Andrew Hutchison and Marie-Louise Xavier's CD-ROM-based interactive narrative "Juvenate" which transformed the hand's movement on the mouse into a healing touch on the screen images. German Wilfried Agricola de Cologne's "Moving Picture Collection" also sparked special interest particularly the piece"Divisionistic Approach"; and Brazilian Wilton Azevedo's "Interpoesia" (with Philadelpho Menezes) introduced the new reading and authorship involved in interpoetry while Palm Poetry Reading, the UPCFA students' entry to the 2nd Interpoetry Exhibition in Brazil, also presented in DMF2001, actively participated in the exchange of new ideas in the digital poetry genre. The portrait and the music in French Gustavo Kortsarz's "Vanarsky / Toporgraphie" digital video also brought eyes and ears to attention.

The CD-ROM based works and Taka's migration from film and video to CD-ROM (spanning over 35 years of dedicated work from analog to digital media) also served as challenge and inspiration to a number of video and filmmakers here. The possibilities of creating interactive work from film and video content provided the catalyst for getting more artists involved in interactive and digital technologies.

In DMF2001, we had also worked closely with the UP Computer Center through their director Prof. Roel Ocampo and the Diliman Network (DilNet) which provided fast and uninterrupted internet connection and live streaming video.

I am currently "de-stressing" myself, writing emails and postcards to all who helped in DMF2001, preparing to send out catalogs to all the artists involved in the event, putting the event aftermath little by little into the DMF2001 website. All the stress and hard work has been worth it and art has proven again to be a weapon for peace never comparable nor to be traded for bombs or a lackadaisical weekend watching CNN. And we move on to DMF2002 ...

--- DMF2001 is made possible through the generous support of the Office of the Chancellor, University of the Philippines-Diliman, the Office of Initiative in Culture and the Arts (OICA), and the UP College of Fine Arts, with technical support provided by the UP Computer Center and Dilnet.

Fatima Lasay
E-mail: fats@up.edu.ph

Art & War Project Description and Call for Papers

Posted 1 November 2001
Updated 31 October 2007

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