NFOM: Sundance Art Scene
by Melissa Hempel
In a world designed to escape personal realities for just a few hours at a time, the Sundance Film Festival hosts a collective exhibition of artists from around the world at its New Frontier on Main. Acting more like Sundance’s documentary competition, several of the works jolt visitors back to reality, and ask them to seriously contemplate approaching possibilities. The mixed media installations operate as meeting points between cinema and performance while they host visitors in investigations of location, time and collaboration.
Supermarket produce can no longer hide behind the guise of carefully stacked bins and a shiny wax finish in Matthew Moore’s Lifecycles. Crops are revealed from seed through harvest by cameras located where they grow, and the footage is later played on screens over their store displays. Moore is an Arizona farmer championing the farming practice in the face of suburban sprawl. The project collects data about the soil and sun patterns with the hopes to send out cameras to farmers across the nation. Lifecycles brings awareness to the importance of stewardship and the sense of place connected to our food sources. Being exhibited simultaneously at an actual Park City grocery store, Moore’s work is launched into the realm of social activism, tying a string around shoppers’ fingers so they remember to ask where that apple came from.
In Petko Dourmana’s Post Global Warming Survival Kit, visitors step into the role of a shoreline guardian during an atomic winter. It is our job to monitor the sea level and keep watch for the rest of civilization. Self imposed as a means to control the changing climate, the post apocalyptic landscape is a frightening glance into the possible future. This enormously successful installation first removes visitors from their comfort zone by taking away light, furthered even more by the requirement to wear night vision devices, which strip them of any rose colored glasses they may have believed they would be wearing as rewards for careful recycling and a green lifestyle. Dourmana provides an environment for us to act as future generations and tells a memorable story, hopefully as a cautious fable, and not as an accurate prediction.
Visitors have a more instant connection to the hitRECord studio at NFOM. We enter as world wide collaborators, barred only until registering as hitRECorders on the website, who offer user-generated content to a global audience. Unique in its ability to amplify online communication as an artistic process, hitRECord offers users the chance to change reality and create something entirely new. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s workshop brings words to stories, lyrics to music, captions to photos, but most importantly: people to people. One of the current projects, which are called records, involves the fresh Banksy graffiti surprising those traipsing along Main Street. An animation was created using Banksy’s images, and hitRECorders were invited to submit voice overs to complete the record. Upon closing, outstanding collaborations will actually be screened at Sundance this Friday. A lesson in cooperation and trust, hitRECord rewards users who value art over ownership.
These installations serve as reminders of a changing world. Messages to increase awareness and explore the endless possibilities of human interaction can be found throughout the New Frontier on Main venue. Especially present is an intense hope to increase a collective connection to the earth and to each other. Some communicate more eerily prophetic scenarios than others. For now, I’d much rather take a subtle hint that I can alter the creative process at the Sundance Film Festival, and create a new article for people to read… without night vision goggles.
New Frontier on Main is open in Park City through Saturday, January 30th.