‘Utopian visions’ is the central theme for the 14th edition of London’s onedotzero festival, which aims to showcase progressive moving image work and digital art. According to director Shane R.J. Walter, this year’s programme will be ‘imbued with a sense of adventure, hope and creative positivity’, an oddly optimistic and politically phrased choice given Britain is currently steeling itself for an austere economic future. Perhaps the organisers believe the utopian visions will provide some inspiration (or at the least some light relief!).
Indeed, screening as part of the ‘extended play’ programme, artistic collective Knife Party’s animation film, Coalition of the Willing, aims to provide a new political and social ideal. A polemical narration calls for online communities to create a ‘global collaborative culture’, which can tackle climate change via a ‘swarm offensive’. According to Knife Party, it is up to the consumer to make changes. The revolution will be digitised. Possibly not as simple as that but there is a lot of revolutionary digital work at onedotzero. The ‘extended play’ programme champions ‘filmmakers who push boundaries of traditional storytelling with adventurous narrative structures and distinct visual styles’ and Coalition of the Willing uses narrative to push its political point home. The work is the result of 24 filmmakers working on different segments of the script to create a 15-minute film with techniques varying from computer animation to stop-motion models made from sweet potatoes and watermelons. The film was released in instalments on the web, promoting online debate during filmmaking: a perfect echo of the film’s sentiments.
Interactivity and discussion are certainly key components of onedotzero. The Johnny Cash Project, chosen to screen at ‘wavelength’ (a programme of radical attempts at the music video format), is the result of a similar collaborative and web-based approach. Online participants were each invited to draw a frame of the film, resulting in hundreds of stills, which, when strung together, form a hypnotic video for Johnny Cash’s song, ‘Ain’t No Grave’. In addition to finished collaborative works, the festival will provide an opportunity for festival-goers to get involved. There will be a week-long workshop to create multi-disciplinary projects around this year’s theme; participatory installations on-site at BFI Southbank, including one by artists Hellicar & Lewis and Todd Vanderlin, Feedback, which will allow users to project and edit images of their own bodies; and a special forum devoted to ‘data visualisation’, discussing how in our digital world, saturated with data, we can use visuals to explore, present and analyse information.
And in among these 2.0 offerings, there will also be some more straightforward screenings; three feature-length films will run alongside specially curated programmes of shorts, including strands on female animators, city films, moving image made from computer code, films featuring robots, new work from Japan and Britain, and character-led animation, curated by the Berlin-based festival Pictoplasma. It is a nicely diverse selection of topics and interesting fodder for BFI Southbank, a venue that tends to offer a more straightforward viewing experience. The weird and wonderful world of cutting-edge digital arts should make some intriguing and unusual ripples through the British Film Institute.