“How do you delete a tree?”
That’s the enigmatic question that opens the long-awaited online program for the annual tech-and-art festival Black Box 3.0. The show opens next week on Friday, September 17. Black Box founder and director Julia Fryett is good at crafting these kinds of questions that make the mind wander. More importantly, she’s excellent at curating programs that are evocative and compel audiences to ask all sorts of questions of themselves.
Black Box explores how technology is transforming the arts, culture and public life. Past programs have included light sculptures paired with poetry and animation, formal screenings of independent and international art films, and temporary installations in shipping containers throughout the city.
Black Box 2.0 was a creative highlight for me last year, and I have been awaiting the program for this year’s festival with bated breath. But Black Box 3.0 almost didn’t happen. Fryett has been working with a new start-up and couldn’t put the festival together herself. Fortunately, curator Molly Mac (The Alice Gallery) came in as producer, and three weeks later a program was in place.
Black Box 3.0 will feature 125 artists in 7 festival programs and 8 partner programs, brought together by a community of collaborators. Without further ado, here are the bits that have piqued my interest early.
Black Box 3.0 Opening Night
When: Saturday, September 17, 2016, 7-11:55pm
Where: Velocity: V2 (1525 11th Ave)
Program type: Party and exhibit
It’s Art Hack Day, which is “dedicated to hackers whose medium is art and artists whose medium is tech,” who bridge entrepreneurship, activism, art and tech through hackathons and exhibits of their own. The participating artists and hackers will be inhabiting Velocity V2 starting September 15 to create a flash exhibit on the theme “ERASURE” for the official opening night. In addition to seeing the completed exhibit (one-night-only), there will be live performances and a party to start the festival off right.
$5 suggested donation at the door.
VR and Design: Experiencing Design in a New Way
When: Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 6-9pm
Where: ZGF Architects (925 Fourth Avenue, 4th floor, Seattle, WA 98104)
Program type: Panel discussion
Emerging technology allows creators to bypass traditional, illustrative design techniques and visualize their designs in new ways. VR technology in particular has created an unprecedented level of interaction and customization. This panel features design professionals from four distinct but related industries: architecture, construction, software and hardware. They will discuss how VR technology has improved their design processes and how they imagine this technology will affect their industries in the future.
Free and open to the public.
ROBOTS BUILDING ROBOTS Opening Reception
When: Thursday, September 22, 2016, 5-8pm
Where: Hedreen Gallery (217 Pine St # 200)
Program Type: Party and Exhibit
Hedreen Gallery presents group exhibition ROBOTS BUILDING ROBOTS, through December 10, but it offers interactive 3D printing projects during Black Box 3.0 through October 2.
The show includes work by international artists addressing “the intersection, or divergence, of creation and consciousness in the digital age.” The show’s title come from a performance and book by one of the participating artists, New-York based Tyler Coburn. In his series of “improvised monologues,” Coburn takes on the subject of “lights-out” manufacturing, leading to unexpected outcomes. Coburn writes, “Thirty years ago, Roger Smith of General Motors believed that lights-out manufacturing was the only way to give America a competitive edge over Japan. Robots were designed to run without humans, yet even with the lights on, they often ended up painting themselves.”
Other participating artists are: Adam Basanta (Montreal), Caroline Delieutraz (Paris), Oliver Laric (Berlin), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Montreal and Madrid), Sara Ludy (“everywhere”), Jon Rafman (Montreal), Evan Roth (Paris), Sebastian Schmieg (Berlin) and Silvio Lorusso (Rotterdam). The show is curated by Amanda Donnan, Curator of Seattle University Art Galleries.
Free and open to the public.
Fwd: no-reply and Allison Kudla: Tenacity
When: Thursday, Sep 29-October 1, 2016
Where: The Alice (
Program Type: Exhibition
Fwd: no-reply is an exhibition of video, sound artwork, screen capture “performances” and video games curated by Black Box 3.0 festival producer Molly Mac. Featured artists include Julianne Aguilar, Katherine Behar, Flakorojas, Jaehyun Kim, Hongzhe Liang and Hanita Schwartz. I expect subtle, playful and insightful work from this group of artists. The exhibition’s stated focus is “the socialized isolations of social media platforms, virtual worlds and digital image manipulation,” grappling with nostalgia, consumer malaise, and new modes of embodiment and place.
In the mezzanine outside the gallery, exhibition space Project Diana presents Allison Kudla: Tenacity. Kudla’s practice frequently bridges art and tech, often in a speculative or experimental fashion. She will be using the space to seek phototropic patterns in vertically planted seeds, placed in “direct dialog with the architecture.”
An experiment in phototropism vs. gravitropism, she wonders what impact this will have on the direction of the plants as they sprout, and hopes to create a mesmerizing pattern of tenacity as the ordered pattern of seeds extend and grow in their reach for light.
The opening reception for both exhibits is 5-8pm.
Free and open to the public. (The Alice is on the second floor of an historic building and is not ADA accessible.)
13 CHAMBERS World Premiere
When: Friday, September 30, 2016, 9-10pm
Where: Seattle Asian Art Museum (1400 East Prospect Street)
Program Type: Film Screening
13 CHAMBERS is the collaborative fruit of of Smarthouse Creative and Aktionsart (the umbrella organization of Black Box festival founded by Julia Fryett). It’s a site-specific anthology film exploring “the uncanny, supernatural and sublime in a 1918 dilapidated print shop in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.” In one weekend in October 2015, 13 female directors created 13 short films within the boundaries of 13 creative constraints. The world premiere of the anthology takes place during Black Box 3.0 at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
Free Tickets with RSVP. Reserve tickets online.
ROT: Compost vs. Surgery
When: Sunday, October 2, 2016, 3-5pm
Where: Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium (1300 1st Avenue)
Program Type: Film Screening
ROT: Compost vs. Surgery is a single-channel video screening that links the physicality of Seattle Art Museum‘s Big Picture exhibition to contemporary conversations about senescence and identity. The screening program is TBA, but co-curators Molly Mac and S. Surface say the participating artists “revisit, reinterpret and expand the scope of performative image-making processes” from a range of artistic movements.
Free and open to the public with advance registration. Register online.
See the full program on Black Box 3.0’s official website. (The original post has been updated to reflect a change of venue for the VR and design panel discussion.)