Sometimes, time plays with our perceptions and feels as it slips through our fingers. So many festivals and exhibitions. So many meetings and reflections. So many old and new ambitions. So, when we are close to the end of the year, at L.E.V. (Laboratorio de Electrónica Visual) we love to recap everything that has happened to us during the last twelve months. Not only to settle down our learnings and experiences, but also as a way of expressing our appreciation to all the people and projects which have taken us here.
On January 2023 we were literally immersed in the last weeks of the exhibition Metaversos: realities in transition at Nave 0 in Matadero Madrid, comprising a selection of visual environments created by and for artists. We were also enjoying some side events to this project we enjoyed as much as the NeuroXcape Hybrid E-rave 666, organized by Neurodungeon collective.
Financed by the European Union-NextGenerationEU, through the Public Aid subsidy for the promotion of the video game sector and other forms of digital creation within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan of the Ministry of Culture.
Shortly after, we were finalizing the last details of the 17th year of L.E.V. Festival in Gijón. From April 27 to 30, we managed to bring some of the most surprising experimental works of audiovisual and digital creations of today to the Asturian town. Supported by Gijón’s Town Council and the Principality of Asturias, L.E.V. Festival showcased an extensive line-up formed by audiovisual performances, live shows, installations and virtual reality experiences by thirty local and international artists, throughout seven emblematic venues in the city: Teatro de la Laboral, Teatro Jovellanos, LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Muséu del Pueblu d’Asturies, Centro de Cultura Antiguo Instituto, Escuela de Comercio and the Jardín Botánico Atlántico.
The live show line-up was headlined by the essential German digital artist Robert Henke, alongside with other big names such as Ikonika, Throwing Snow, Hélène Vogelsinger, Franck Vigroux & Antoine Schmitt, Zoë McPherson & Alessandra Leone, Ninos du Brasil, Kai Whiston, or Grand River, among many others. One of the new activities of this year was a session at Jardín Botánico where the audience could listen to live shows by Astrid Sonne and Samuel Organ through wireless headphones, a collaboration with Fundación EDP. Another unforgettable moment was this year’s closing act at Teatro Jovellanos, featuring the astonishing live-media performance Dökk by Italian studio fuse*.
The activities were completed by a chat by audiovisual artist Kathy Hinde, three audiovisual installations by Iregular, Maxime Corbeil-Perron and Total Refusal, and two multi-awarded virtual reality experiences showed in synergy with the Arenas Movedizas project at Escuela de Comercio, an initiative powered by the Youth Department of Gijón’s Town Council: From the Main Square by Pedro Harres, and Goliath: Playing with Reality by Barry Gene Murphy & May Abdalla.
We spent last summer working on the new L.E.V. Matadero, Festival of Visual Electronics and Extended Realities. It was our fifth year in Madrid. Organized by Matadero Madrid, center of contemporary creations belonging to Madrid City Council’s Department of Culture, and curated by Datatron platform, the festival took place during four days, from September 21 to 24, using several spaces of the center, with activities in different formats, to bring audiences the most avant-garde experiences in the fields of electronic sound experimentation, digital art and extended realities.
With all tickets sold out, Central de Diseño and Auditorio de Casa del Lector hosted this year’s line-up of live shows and audiovisual performances, formed by 16 projects by artists from 11 different countries. Some true flagships of the electronic music scene, and extraordinarily creative audiovisual projects, such as Oval, Katarina Gryvul & Alex Guevara, Joakim, CORIN, Konx-om-Pax, LustSickPuppy, CoH meets Abul Mogard, NSDOS or Venus Ex Machina & Xtrux.
One of the biggest highlights of L.E.V. Matadero 2023 was the performative installation Shrink 01995 by renowned Belgian artist Lawrence Malstaf at Plaza Matadero, a collaboration with Naves del Español. A reflection about the human being’s adaptive capacity, through a risky setup of a high visual and emotional impact.
Another big hit from this year was the VORTEX section about virtual reality and VR Cinema experiences at Nave 0. With all tickets sold out for all passes, and a collaboration with European project Realities in Transition, it was a walkthrough composed by the works of 8 artists using immersive technologies to take us to new, imagined worlds, and to show us our world from a different perspective, to make us think about how we are inhabiting it. Extended realities were also present in the Ciudad Aumentada section, with an exhibition of AR vegetal sculptures created by artist Lauren Moffatt; and in this year’s submission for Centro de experiencias inmersivas MAD. Madrid Artes Digitales, which hosted the wide-format interactive video installation ID0 by NAXS Corp collective, with the support of Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and Economic and Taipei’s Trade Office in Spain.
In its fifth year, L.E.V. Matadero, also supported by the Ministry of Culture through the grant Ayudas públicas para la promoción del sector del videojuego y de otras formas de creación digital en el marco del Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia, with funding from the European Union-NextGenerationEU, was completed with the audiovisual installation Visual Bird Sounds by Andy Thomas at Sala Plató in Cineteca Madrid. A project which would stay with us long after the festival’s end.
Because on early December, at Pozu Santa Bárbara in Mieres, we opened a new exhibition of this Australian artist an extension of what it was shown in Matadero, inviting us to visualize the birds’ singing of remote habitats from all over the world and the proper mining areas of Asturias. Open until January 28, 2024, promoted by Cultural Department of Mieres’ Town Council and curated by L.E.V., the exhibition is also a tribute to canaries, for playing a historical role in the mining industry, and it includes guided tours on Christmas that you can check here.
Before meeting in Mieres this December, at L.E.V. we keep on collaborating with several local and European projects.
At CAFCA* (Cultura, Arte, Familia, Ciudad Abierta), a festival of scenic arts celebrated in June and organized by Oviedo’s Municipal Foundation of Culture, we curated two works: the interactive installation Liminal created by artist LP Rondeau, and Rick Le Cube, Hacia un nuevo mundo, a show for young audiences created by SATI collective. Also locally, in the festival LINK (Circuito de Experiencias Insólitas), from August 24 to 27 at Fábrica de Armas de la Vega in Oviedo, we curated the avant-garde and introspective music show Animus by Asturian artist Sara Muñiz. As usual, we collaborate in Noche Blanca de Oviedo. This year it happened on October 7, and our contribution was the audiovisual installation The Subject Changes by Austrian collective Depart.
On an European level, one of our main allies in 2023 has been RIT – Realities in Transition. An initiative promoted by the seven European partners of the project – Ars Electronica (Linz, AT), Dark Euphoria (Marseille, FR), iMAL – Art Center for digital cultures & technology (Brussels, BE), KONTEJNER (Zagreb, HR), L.E.V. Festival (Gijón, ES), CHRONIQUES (Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, FR), y V2_, Lab for the Unstable Media (Rotterdam, NL) – united to create an inclusive, open and sustainable community around extended realities. All of them took part in the first XR Camp of the project in Zagreb under the title Extended Worlds, where L.E.V. organized the Recycling the AI hackaton. Besides collaborating in programming this event, L.EV. also organized a big exhibition with the experience Planet L.E.V. Matadero.
With RIT, and in a collaboration with the CREAXR community, last December 15, again at Matadero Madrid, we organized a workshop to study the collaborative manifesto which the project is creating thanks to the contributions of communities from all over the world, including the contributions of the attendees.
This year we have also collaborated with the EFFEA platform (European Festivals Fund for Emerging Artists), led by the European Festivals Association (EFA) which, in its second call, has granted 50 residence projects to festivals, in order to support emerging artists. L.E.V. Festival has been one of the festivals chosen for this year and, along with INDEX and NODE festival, has proposed a residence for art two-piece SYNSPECIES, formed by Elias Merino and Tadej Droljc, at Centro Musica di Modena. Besides, still in the context of EFFEA, we organized the showcase at Matadero of the augmented reality project BLOCKSMOG by Guillaumit, one of the winners of the first call. Maintenant Festival (Rennes, France), L.E.V Festival (Gijón, Spain), and KIKK Festival (Namur, Belgium), plus the program of artistic residencies of the French Institute at Morocco, got together to support the latest creation of this French artist.
We have also worked once again with EMAP (European Media Art Platform), a long-time collaborator of L.E.V., to present at the Gijón edition of the festival the project Hardly Working by Austrian collective Total Refusal.
Another collaboration for this year was the one with Fifty Lab, a Belgian festival in search of custom recommendations to fit in their diverse tastes, and invited L.E.V. to recommend an artist for their 2023 line-up. We chose one of our essential locals, Jailed Jamie (Jaime Tellado aka Skygaze), who played the festival on November 16.
The icing on the cake was an acknowledgement such as the Time Out Cultura de Madrid Prize for the ‘Most Innovative project’, which the magazine granted L.E.V. Matadero’s fifth year last October, defining the festival as “an unmissable event in Madrid if you want to get a taste of what is happening in the world of the most avant-garde audiovisual creations, digital art and extended realities”, a very satisfactory finish to a really intense and enlightening year, which we wish L.E.V. audiences have lived with the same intensity.
Thank you very much. We wish a 2024 full of new discoveries and projects.