Sundance New Frontier Opening @ UMOCA 01.24

Posted January 26, 2012 in
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The Sundance Film Festival and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art collaborate for the New Frontier Reception. Photo by John Barkiple

After interviewing Shari Firlot, curator the New Frontier Exhibit, for SLUG podcast Soundwaves from the Underground, I was invited to attend the opening celebration for this year's exhibit. Tickets were free and limited to a couple hundred members of the UMOCA, so I was pretty excited for the opportunity to hob-nob with some pretty incredible artists and guests. After being distracted by the exhibits on the first level of the UMOCA by Joshua Luther and Catherine Doctorow Prize winner, Kim Schoenstadt, I made it downstairs to the actual big event. The great thing about most Sundance events is that it is easy to find oneself in very surreal situations. As I walked towards the stairs that lead to the exhibit, I was overtaken by the number of huge projections of games, photos and other mysterious moving pictures on the walls of the entire lower level of the building. People densely filled the space between exhibits and DJ Mick Boogie's music was blasting a mix of random pop from generations past and present. The installations all blended seamlessly together and were well incorporated into the overall design of the exhibit. I graciously accepted one of the two free beers allotted and weaved my way through the eclectic crowd to the food provided by The Blended Table. A huge spread of chicken skewers, goat cheese, giant bowls of grapes, and other appetizers were easily approachable and delicious.

Most of the exhibits were interactive and allowed participants to influence the outcome of a particular piece or to be lead in the direction of an artist's ideas and motives. Many were played like video games, like artist Molleindustria's (Paolo Pedercini) “Radical Games Against the Tyranny of Entertainment.” There were a number of games placed around the exhibit. I played the McDonald's Video Game where I was able to lead animals to slaughter or fire unsuspecting burger flippers at will. Other games allowed participants to learn about culture and copyright, or pilot an unmanned drone. Eva & Granco Mattes' exhibit, “My Generation,” consisted of a busted up computer sprawled all over the ground with a loop of images on the monitor of people becoming frustrated with their own technology to the point that they must destroy it. I stood by this exhibit for a while watching the images on the screen, and as I watched, I was approached by multiple people who wanted to share their own tales of retaliation against technology. I felt like this piece had one of the clearest messages that was instantly relatable to those who saw it. My favorite exhibit of the night was “Evolution (Megaplex),” by Marco Brambilla. This could best be described as a moving collage which consisted of several images from probably hundreds of blockbuster movies ranging from the original King Kong to Dirty Harry. Together the clips depict the history of humankind in one big colorful 3D video mural. It was extremely hard to break away from this exhibit because there was so much to take in.

Many of the exhibits offered a multimedia interactive experience, but some of the installations weren't really available in their full capacity due to the loud music. I think the large group of people discouraged some from really trying to experience some of the exhibits to their full potential. I am planning on heading back on a less crowded evening to take everything in.

The New Frontier Exhibit will be open at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art until May 19. There is also a New Frontier Exhibit in Park City at The Yard which will be open until January 28. Check out more photos of the event here.

The Sundance Film Festival and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art collaborate for the New Frontier Reception. Photo by John Barkiple Spy Hoppers Ethan Pullam, Colby Bryson, and Margaret King watch My Generation installation. Photo by John Barkiple Jesse and Teri Urasmus interact with the BEAR 71 installation by Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison. Jesse Urasmus is interacting with trail cameras as geo-location data is mapped simultaneously with LCD projections. Photo by John Barkiple