For 15 years, the Athens Digital Arts Festival celebrated how the digital space can be the source of fantastic art. Ironically, the 2020 Athens Digital Arts Festival will be the first one to happen online in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. Across the world these troubling times wore heavily on people trying to stay safe, follow health professionals’ advice, and keep their families and businesses afloat. That is to say, people could use some distraction and entertainment. For example, the DC FanDome virtual event drew 22 million viewers worldwide, perhaps in part because people need things to look forward to. Ironically, despite celebrating digital art for more than a decade, 2020 marks the first time that the Athens Greek Digital Arts Festival will be entirely online, with daily activities and presentations for art fans and the bored alike.
This year, the festival will present a new kind of performance and one uniquely fitting for this organization. Centaur is a collaboration between the Royal Danish Ballet, Pontus Lindberg the new artistic leader for the Dansk Danseteaters, leading Japanese electronic composer and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda, and Cecilie Waagner-Falkenstrøm, an artist who specializes in AI. The piece will examine the consequences of AI and how humans project emotions, good and bad, onto technology. An AI performer, called David, can reportedly simulate human emotion was specifically designed for this show. In fact, David is considered a “co-creator” of the show as well as a member of its cast.
Using unique data sets, such as the position of planets in our solar system or the dancers movements, David influences the composition. This means each performance will be wholly unique.
From the press release:
“Modern technology such as AI is everywhere in society. We are exposed to advertisements, feeds and news on social media that, through targeted algorithms, tailor content specifically for us. But how will an increasing use of AI affect our future? Will artists develop into hybrids – into centaurs?
“Does artificial intelligence have feelings, consciousness and longing? Not yet. But it can already manipulate and seduce us by decoding feelings and moods. Centaur is a work full of strong imagery about the human consequences of artificial intelligence.
“Could artificial intelligence abuse us in the future? And what consequences will that have for our compassion? Will we have to develop into hybrids – centaurs?”
Also, this year marks another first. The Athens Digital Arts Festival will present the ADAF Awards, voted on by the audience. The festival’s organizers hope to promote a thematic series that will promote the union between art and science. People should be open to knowledge and learning, and one of the best ways to connect with each other in this time of social distancing is through art. Future projects from the ADAF will feature interactive projects so the public can safely engage with the art.
Centaur will be performed live online on September 4 and 10, 2020. You can book tickets at the links and see below for credits.
Centaur Production Team
- Choreography / Direction: Pontus Lidberg
- Audio and visual design: Ryoji Ikeda
- Artificial Intelligence installation: Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm
- Light Design: Raphael Frisenvænge Solholm
- Writing / Dramaturgy: Adrian Guo Silver
- Costume design: Rachel Quarmby-Spadaccini
- Original Music: Ryoji Ikeda
- Music: Franz Schubert, Giacomo Puccini & music created by Articifial Intelligence
- Development: The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University
- Co-Production: Danish Dance Theater co-produced with Oriente Occidente (IT), Théâtre National de Chaillot (FR), and The Royal Danish Theatre (DK).
Thank you for the generous support: Augustinusfonden, Overretssagfører L. Zeuthens Mindelegat, William Demant Fonden, Knud Højgaards Fond, Beckett-Fonden, Jyllands-Postens Fond.
What do you think of the new Athens Digital Arts Festival project? Will you be checking it out? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via the Athens Digital Arts Festival.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.