The Art of Day for Night
Björk. Photo: Courtesy of Artist/Santiago Felipe
It would be ridiculous to talk about all of the mesmerizing aspects of Houston’s Day for Night without discussing the art that the festival offers up. With fully immersive experiences, the installations at the festival take everything you know about digital and physical art and turns it on its head. Installations from United Visual Artists, Björk Digital, Damien Echols and many more will be on hand for your viewing pleasure. As a music writer, I see so many things that it becomes hard for me to find joy at a traditional music festival. However, last year’s Day for Night dazzled my mind while it offered up a euphoric experience that I’ve not since duplicated. Hopefully these descriptions of the artists featured will help paint a picture of what the festival has to offer this year.
Starting with Björk Digital, you have the opportunity to experience the music of Björk in an incredibly intimate setting. The exhibition includes multiple rooms of VR installations, including one that transports the viewer into the artists’s mouth as she sings and another featuring a one-on-one outdoor performance with Björk, as well as a cinema screening of her acclaimed music videos. Attendees will even get a chance to play with applications that Björk designed herself. Don’t misunderstand that along with Björk’s instrumentation, the applications — which have been implemented into Scandinavian schools — might be some of the most forward-thinking interactions you can have between science and music.
Our Time by United Visual Artists. Video: Courtesy of Artist
Last year some installations featured music that synced perfectly alongside the art itself. The crew behind United Visual Artists‘ light-based projects will bring such an experience to Day for Night. Their past works include installations like ORIGIN, where sculpture and light manipulation go hand in hand while the emanating sounds create a music of their own. Aside from a bridge where light manipulates as people walk upon it and a canopy where light shifts with the environment in Toronto, United Visual Artists have created some impressive art pieces like Glow Project 11, the choreography of light, sound and movement with Momentum, and the visually stunning piece Chorus, which features music by Mira Calix, just to name a few.
DAYDREAM V.02 by NONOTAK. Video: Courtesy of Artist
Last year, NONOTAK Studio made an appearance at Day for Night with their massive installation, Volume. Simplistic yet still very complex, the piece was as massive in footprint as it was in emotion. This year the duo has yet to release what they’re bringing to the festival, but they might be some of the best visual artists Houston is lucky enough to welcome. By their use of illumination in their piece VERSUS, or their mixture of sound and light with the immersive piece Late Speculation, they certainly prove that they’re on a level of their own as far as artistry goes. There also promises to be the immense light art of Russia-based TUNDRA, who have created such beautiful and musical works as HYPERJUMP, an interactive and kinetic light and sound piece POWPOW, and a reflective piece called My Whale. Educator and visual artist Golan Levin will also be on hand and his list of works are as intriguing as they are bizarre. Works like Rectified Flowers, the strange yet immersive Augmented Hand Series, and The Introspection Machine are just a small sample of his works that always seem to be a mixture of mad scientist and brilliant inventor. You could say something similar about Berlin’s Robert Seidel, who works in the field of experimental film. Seidel has presented pieces like the beautifully complex vitreous, and the illuminating piece grapheme, which is permanently installed at Museum Wiesbaden in Germany.
REACH by VT Pro. Video: Courtesy of Artist
Of course, this would not be complete without mentioning 20-year-old generative artist Ezra Miller. Miller has done a life’s worth of work in a very short time, and utilizes WebGl to create pieces that are as insanely intense as they are playful and fun. His list of works alone are impressive, however what he brings to the festival should be different from what most of us call “web art,” leaving most who experience his work mesmerized, and his Fractal Fantasy works alone are something that everyone should check out. Damien Echols, who has one of the craziest backstories ever, centering around his almost 20 years on Death Row, will also bring his artwork to attendees. Echols has authored a New York Times bestselling book and has a film about he and his wife, and when you’ve lived the life that Echols has, it’s pretty certain that his work at the festival will be pretty intense. With LA’s VT PRO, the sky’s the limit, as their works are always strange and provoking. Installations like REACH, the impressively intricate and musically crazed Music Wall BTS, and the beautifully creative The Chamber, their work really speaks for itself. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve worked with the likes of deadmau5, Dillon Francis, and Logic as the design studio has made a name for themselves with superior work.
Nervescape V by SHOPLIFTER. Photo: Courtesy of Artist
The beauty of what happens when different groups collaborate is what you’ll see when Vincent Houze teams up with design group AV&C for AV&C+HOUZE. The Icelandic artist known as SHOPLIFTER will likely turn patrons heads, especially considering her medium. The artist uses synthetic hair to create beautifully crafted works of art that come alive and pop with color and movement. Works like the humanistic The Weather Diaries, the crazed shaping of Vanity Disorder ii, or the massive hair extension works known as Nervescape all make you wonder what she will bring to the walls of Day for Night. The artist who curated last year’s festival, Alex Czetwertynski was not only one of the most calm and collected artists at the festival, but also one of the most creative. One of his newest pieces, Signal, is possibly one of the most brilliant and beautifully crafted digital artworks you could see. The diverse works of Jesse Kanda will also be on display, and the 27-year-old artist is known for working on videos with Björk, Arca, and FKA Twigs. The collaborative works between Amsterdam-based visual artists Christopher Gabriel and Arnot Hulskamp, known together as Children of the Light, is something else entirely. Next-level works like Reflector Suits, the immense size of Strobogrid 1.0, and the insane looking Zerotime should clue you into the diverse works created when these two work together. This leads us to Herman Kolgen. The Montreal-based artist’s audio-visual piece Seismik is like nothing ever seen before while laying the groundwork for what other producers should follow with their visuals, and I can’t wait to see what goodies he’ll bring to the festival this year.
This is definitely the future of what music festivals should hope to be in every way. The carefully curated art is a large portion of what sets this festival apart and what dazzles audiences like never before. On the music side, performances from Aphex Twin, Butthole Surfers, Squarepusher, Travis Scott, SOPHIE, and many more will delight your ears. But the art should not and cannot be pushed aside. You can see works by all of these impressive artists, many of which are known as the best in the world, on December 17 and 18 at Day for Night. The all ages festival has tickets between $160 and $700 and it takes place at the former Barbara Jordan Post Office in downtown Houston.