With the rate of change and development, global movements towards collective purposes have become even more critical in considering the way our individual behaviors shape the world. It has therefore become increasingly necessary for a convergence of ideas to provoke a collective examination of the successes and failures that occur when our ideas collide.
Over a chilly week in London, that is what Convergence Festival 2018 achieved with a series of events programmed around music, art and technology. The music focused festival highlighting changing trends in the areas of art and technology, brought together a mixed bag of minds from all over the world to listen, learn, reflect and react . This edition particularly zoned in on creating digital narratives through music and art and how those alternative storylines and memories shape our physical experiences globally especially in the post truth era.
Thanks to the Delegate program by the British Council, DANDANO was represented at the festival by Hakeem Adam, our founder. Along with Brian Ritchie (Australia), Chi Po-Hao (Taiwan), Cristian Reynaga (Argentina), Javier Areal Veléz (Argentina), Dmitry Agalakov (Russia), Kukuh Rizal (Indonesia), Hasaan Meer (Oman), Nikita Rasskazov (Russia), Riham Noor Mohamed Al-Zadjali (Oman) and Colleen Balchin (South Africa).
Over a few days in chilly Shoreditch, the delegates got a chance to stroll into the world of various individuals working on unique projects in the worlds of art, music and technology through talks, performances and presentation. Despite the schedule for the sessions being quite packed over 48 hours, here are some of the bits that stood out for our founder, in-between getting lost numerous times in London:
University of the Underground: this unorthodox and design-focused residency, doubling as a university takes a novel and unique way to engineering design experiences through its liberal and inspiring curriculum. At Convergence, their current cohort presented work in response to a brief, ‘when post-truth is the new normal, what is the role of fiction in revealing hidden political narratives?’ It was amazing to see just how far the 14 MA of Design Experience students were allowed to explore creativity and problems solving by using their various artistic practices as the starting point on an exploration of possible solutions or reactions to how we create and utilize narratives in the digital era, which lines up with the tuition-free university’s goal for democratizing creative education. Beyond their presentations, the design and experience of the universities project is one creatives should check out and aspire to integrate into their own workflows.
Ash Koosha: Virtual reality and augmented reality has come a long way since Pokemon Go and other video game based applications of this nebulous 21st century technology. Iranian-born, London based musician, Ash Koosha makes a compelling cases from further application of this technology in live music production. His virtual reality DJ set compelled viewers to re-examine what the bounds of the live music performance are for both the performer and the audience and how virtual reality could either expand or limit how we enjoy live music. By playing live instruments through a virtual world which was projected on a screen for the audience to follow, Ash dissociated his physical personality from the energy in the room which caused the audience to drift almost carelessly through the pulsating and electrifying music he was creating, after the initial shock and surprised of the experience. However, it’s worth probing to see just how much depersonalized performances can be pushed as algorithms and technology continue to replace and vie for the human element and experience in art.
Gaika: For a limited time only, Convergence allowed the audience to gate crash the alleys of Gaika’s dystopian mind, which is somewhere between the throbbing bliss of electronic music and the effervescent freedom of video. Talking to Kieran Yates, the alternative electronic music and video artist shared how his creations are outlets to explore his blackness and the outlines of the black British experience. He shared snippets of his political charged and polarizing work as we tiptoed around the prevalence of a malleable representation of the black experience in his work.
Panel with Gal-dem, shesaid.so, bbz London, Boiler Room and Warner Music Uk: on diversity and the ever-present need for representation especially of people of colour in the music world, Antonia Odunlami, music editor at Gal-dem led a riveting panel with experts from different areas of the music industry. This was by far my most interesting session as it resembled a lot of conversations about the nature of diversity around the world. The panel being honest and sincere shared their very varying insights on the nature of diversity campaigns in their various fields from events, broadcast, management and production. One thing however run through which is the need to use your position of power to create the positive change change you want to see in the world.
Aside the session, Convergence also included amazing live performances from artists such as Young Fathers, Kamaal Williams and Submotion Orchestra. There also happened to be room for a rare outing for Anika and her writing robot, a project around predictive lyrics generated from an algorithm and a dot matrix printer, which she spoke about earlier in the day.
Despite being overwhelmed by the energy floating around for the most part, the festival had a genuine freshness to it and provided many isights that are applicable globally to various sectors of the music industry. One might just wish for more workshop sessions in future editions to help participants interact with some of the novelties that are introduced. Very special thank you to the British Council for inviting DANDANO to Convergence and everyone else involved for putting on such an interesting program. We hope to see you next year!
Written by Hakeem Adam
Photos: Hakeem Adam