“We think of it as adding another layer to the Fringe Festival—a Digital Neighborhood.”
The 2015 Fringe Festival is introducing a new component, Digital Fringe, an online platform where artists working in digital media can share their work. The artists provide a URL or another method to access their technologic creation on the FringeArts website and in the Festival Guide. This year, as long as audience members have access to the internet, they can experience the Fringe Fest even when they are tucked away in their cozy kitchens scarfing down last night’s leftovers. “We were inspired by several artists from previous festivals, including the app Mike Kiley created last year, which used GPS tracking technology to guide listeners through a cinematic soundscape,” says Jarrod Markman, Fringe Festival Coordinator at FringeArts. Fringe artists lean against the boundaries of their mediums and Digital Fringe provides a space where artist can continue expanding those borders. Anna Kroll, a 2015 Digital Fringe artist shares, “By integrating web and app based work into the Fringe Festival, it opens up this work–that’s exploring similar ideas– to new audiences who might not know a lot about what’s happening in this medium.”
The multitude of Digital Fringe shows reflects the radical ways art is expanding. Martha Stuckey, Ilse Zoerb, and Douglas Williams take us on a journey to space and back in their show, @AstroJennie. The group follows Jennie Stuart as she returns to North Philly from space. The whole story is captured on Instagram! Liz Goldberg of Lowell Boston is an internet diva. She is also creating a website for the 2015 Fringe Festival that explores the dynamic between painting and animation while unpacking the theme of the diva and female archetypes. Digital Fringe ventures into unknown territory, and Adam Rokhsar, another artist with a Digital Fringe work in the 2015 Festival, created 404 not found, a website that imagines an alternate experience for internet dead ends or encountering a website that does not exist.
Anna Kroll, creator of aqueousness, is drawn to Instagram as artistic medium. At first, her project began on her personal account. Aqueousness captures Kroll’s experience of the bodies of water around her through fifteen second videos. “The project originally started on my personal Instagram and took it over because I didn’t want to post anything else and break up the collection. Finally I shifted the idea to a dedicated account so I could continue to post funny cat photos, but keep the collage growing,” she describes. Digital Fringe encourages artists to pursue unconventional projects. Kroll says, “Digital Fringe gave me an excuse to develop the idea, refining my purpose and language around it as well as how I wanted to present the videos as a collection.” Further dwelling on her project meant thinking about Instagram from a different perspective. “There are a few reasons why I stuck with Instagram as a platform. One, I really wanted the videos to square. I didn’t want the wide screen dimensions that connote film or cinema,” she explains. Kroll simultaneously acts as a museum curator and Avant Garde artist. As she catalogs and displays her experiences with water like archaeological objects placed within glass cases, she also flips Instagram upside down, turning it into a medium like no other. Check out her work @aqueousness.
Daniel Hart, a Digital Fringe artists and creator of #prettygirltips for 2015 Fringe Festival, never pictured himself as a live performance artist. “I never really saw myself a live performer because of anxiety but I pushed myself. Before performing live I would mostly do internet art and some video work,” he says. Through Digital Fringe, Hart can store away his nerves and return to an art form that works better for him. Hart created #prettygirltips, a website that smashes our notions of beauty and drag. The website, which will include pictures and videos saturated in beauty, smeared lipstick, and newport100s, is “inspired by the daily struggle and pain of being a member in the lgbtq community.” Hart shares, “Imagine if you got off at the Somerset station at 3am and got most of your makeup tips from the first pretty girl you saw. I’m trying to challenge everyone’s concept of what beauty is in the drag community. It is as if burn victim high fashion or Texas chainsaw leather face opened up a beauty salon.” Visit prettygirltips.com during the festival or check out the Pretty Girl’s Instagram now @melissajoanshart.
Producing Digital Fringe has been an adventure. “Our registration process is not set up for digital based artists, so we have had to make several adjustments to how we obtain information from them,” Markman says. Producing live arts and structuring the multitude of performances is already hard. Adding another piece to the festival, a layer that occurs in the alternate universe of the digital realm, which is slightly removed from theater, dance, and music, came with new challenges. Markman has courageously taken on these difficulties and stretched the ways artists can participate in the Fringe Festival. He is already thinking about how Digital Fringe will grow in the future, “I would love to juxtapose digital art being made in Philadelphia against digital art from other countries under the umbrella of the Fringe Festival.”
Thank you, Jarrod, Anna, and Dan! I love the Internet, so I can’t wait.