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INTERVIEW: Leslie Deere talks to Carmen Salas and Estela Oliva, co-Directors of LDN’s new digi arts & culture fest, Alpha-ville

Alpha-ville, inaugurated in 2009 by Carmen Salas and Estela Oliva, is a new digital arts organisation in London. Alpha-ville operates as a platform for online and live digital arts and culture. The aim is to increase the exposure of high calibre digital arts within an interdisciplinary context. The mission is to promote public participation and engagement while unveiling new and emerging talent. They want to be known as the curators of a cutting edge cross section of the digital arts and design world.

Last year Alpha-ville organised a festival under the same name. 2010 sees their second annual undertaking in London on the 17th & 18th of September. In their words,
"The festival offers a unique opportunity for artists to create, collaborate and grow through the conception of new projects in an international and enriching environment. It also provides excellent networking opportunities for professionals, artists, students, creative business and ‘followers’ of the digital culture."

How did Alpha-ville come about?

EO: We’ve always had a very similar taste in music and visual art and been interested in creative culture, arts and going to festivals. When Carmen moved here [London] from Spain she started looking for ways to get involved in the cultural scene. We realised that there was a lack of events here that we really liked. We kept going to Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona - traveling for weekend breaks to attend events we really wanted to go to.

Eventually we thought, why don’t we just start something here that’s what we want? Something that allows people here to feel like they’re the same level as the rest of Europe. A lot of people in Europe were asking us, what’s happening in London? And it’s true if you compare London to Berlin or Barcelona a lot more is happening there [in the digital scene].

Our idea was to start something here that was an inspiration and was an alternative to the same old European festivals.

"Space in between" performance por Alba G. Corral y Nikka ( Punto y Raya festival 2009) from Voix off on Vimeo.

Digital art comprises many areas. When you said ‘The Scene,‘ are you referring to a music scene? An art scene?

CS: Basically its music and digital art.

Digital art festivals like Transmediale and Cimatics - everything they do is really high quality. We were missing that in London. They do a bit of electronic music, they do film, even theatre, mixed media. The program is amazing.

EO: They do a conference as well.

Would you say there’s a focus on music in your festival?

EO: Actually this year we have a strong focus on music, screenings and live performance. There’s a particular emphasis on the ‘live music’ aspect, which is what we want to push within the digital scene. Instead of just DJ’s mixing, we want to cover as many subgenres as we can – with a ‘live’ twist; from classical electronic music, techno, dubstep, IDM, hyperdub, experimental.

So this is the 2nd year running, tell us about last year?

CS: It is our second year, but last year is nothing compared to this year. It was a really small event compared to this year.

EO: It was a 5 hour event - 200 people, small and familiar. We still want to keep it like that. It’s still quite small and niche. This year it’s at 2 different spaces - the Whitechapel Gallery and Rich Mix - so we’ve been able to expand the program a lot.

So there’s Cimatics and Sonar and other events, how would you all say you’re different?

CS: Sonar is really hot on the music. They’ve brought Orbital for the last 2 years and other very big names. We want to bring new and emerging artists and give them the opportunity to raise their profile. I really like the size of the festival this year.

EO: Yeah, Sonar also have a stronger focus on music. We also have great music, but it’s not our main focus. Screenings for example are really important to us, and also the installation side. We’d like to bring along different forms, rather than focus just on the music. And I guess with Cimatics, we’re very similar. They’ve been an inspiration for us.

CS: We have a good relationship with them. They are super nice!

EO: In a way they’ve got a similar ethos to us. They want to portray all forms of art around digital, including the culture, social media, everything that we’re living, not only the music side. We’re both more about the underground scene rather than the mainstream.

Sonar has turned into a major festival with quite a large attendance. Where do you see Alpha-ville going?

EO: We’d like it to get as big as it can get. We don't have a limit. Our initial concept was to be able to offer this to people in London that had the same feeling we had and are looking for this sort of event. We don’t know exactly how many people there are, but slowly we will see. We’ve grown a lot from last year. We will see how it goes this year.

The way we want it to grow is – instead of having a massive space with a lot of people – we want to have more venues that we can grow organically in different parts of the city, for example Hackney Wick or South London. We want to have events focused around certain areas instead of putting a lot of people in one warehouse space. We want to grow, but in more strategic points of the city.

Do you have plans to branch off into talks and workshops or just stick with gigs?

CS: We have a talk/workshop this year. We want to develop the educational side of the festival a lot. For this year, I think the talk and the workshop is fine. We’ve got the Visionary Cities film competition as well.

Zan Lyons - Live from Big Face Art on Vimeo.

Full details on Alpha-ville Festival:

Enter the Visionary Cities competition here:

Day 1
17th September 2010
Whitechapel Gallery
Bartlett Showcase opens at 18:30H
All other performances door open at 19:30H
Doors close at 1:00H

Day 2
18th September 2010
Rich Mix Cultural Foundation
Doors open at 19:30H
Doors close at 00:00H

Alpha-ville 2010 Teaser from Alpha Ville on Vimeo.


COMPETITION: 1x Pair of tickets to attend the first night of Alpha-ville at the Whitechapel Gallery from 19.30-01.00, starting on Friday, 17th September 2010.

To claim your tickets, send an email to vienna@run-riot.com with the correct answer in the ‘subject’ box. The winner will be randomly selected.

Q: What is the name of the style of Japanese dance that inspired the installation 'Eternal Summer Storm' that will be presented in Alpha-ville?

A: 1) Odori .2) Mai .3) Butoh .4) Kyomai


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