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Festival: L.E.V. 2023, experimental electronic sound, audiovisuals & digital art in Gijón, Spain

Text by CLOT Magazine

DATATRON collective created the L.E.V. festival, the Spanish platform for the production and promotion of experimental electronic sound, audiovisuals and digital art, seventeen years ago. The festival holds two main big annual events: L.E.V. Festival in Gijón and L.E.V. Matadero in Madrid. The festival has released the lineup for the Gijón edition, which will take place from 27 to 30 April 2023.

With the support of Gijón’s Town Council and the Principality of Asturias, L.E.V. will see an ambitious lineup that will turn the Asturian town into the epicentre of electronic sound experimentation and contemporary audiovisual and digital creation with four performances in days in different spaces and cultural centres.

Live shows will include artists such as Robert Henke, Hélène Vogelsinger, Ikonika, Franck Vigroux & Antoine Schmitt, Grand River, Kathy Hinde, Annabelle Playe & Alexandra Rădulescu and Claraguilar and audiovisual installations and activities related to extended realities in synergy with the Arenas Movedizas project, LABoral Centro de Arte and Centro de Cultura Antiguo Instituto.

On Friday, April 28, at Teatro de la Laboral, Robert Henke will showcase his project CBM 8032 AV, created with vintage computers. In CBM 8032 AV, Henke explores the beauty of simple graphics and sounds using five Commodore CBM 8032 computers. This work plays with the ambivalence of contemporary aesthetics and the use of obsolete, limited, 40-year-old technology. We’ll see the premiere of All Above, the recently released album by Grand River, the project by composer and sound designer Aimée Portioli. Annabelle Playe and Alexandra Rădulescu worked together to create the project KRASIS, an interactive performance where the devices and media used by each on stage are interconnected, generating a dialogue and an exploration between image and sound in real time. The night will be completed with the world premiere of Videoscope by Franck Vigroux & Antoine Schmitt, an audiovisual performance based on Vigroux’s latest release, Magnetoscope.

In addition to these, the L.E.V. Festival programme includes a talk on Friday afternoon, April 28, by artist Kathy Hinde, in which she will delve into her creative process and the work behind projects such as the audiovisual performance Twittering Machines, which she will perform live the following day at the Teatro de la Laboral on Saturday, April 29. In Twittering Machine, Kathy Hinde translates John Keats’ poem Ode to a Nightingale into Morse code and reinterprets it sonically, including bird songs recorded with different effects, intertwined to create a hypnotic chorus of real and artificial birds.

Also, at Teatro de la Laboral on Saturday, April 29, Hélène Vogelsinger will showcase her modular synthesiser project, Metaphysical Alteration. In this project, she explores different spaces to connect with their energies, creating unique, poetic moments.

On Saturday, April 29, daytime live shows will take place at Muséu del Pueblu dAsturies. One of the highlights of this day is Ikonika, one of the most respected names in the UK bass diaspora. Known for her numerous releases with Hyperdub Records, Ikonika is a constantly evolving artist. Her last Bubble Up EP, reflects her diverse interests and musical influences, generating a show where she combines her vocals with live edits from her songs. Komatssu will play their third album No place For Poetry, an exercise in eclecticism, combining space techno and melodic landscapes, solid breaks and beautiful atmospheres. Closing the line-up at Muséu del Pueblu dAsturies Jailed Jamie, accompanied by Helios Amor, will premiere, especially for L.E.V. Festival, his album Gimme Something To Break.

Franck Vigroux Videoscope
Videoscope, Franck Vigroux and Antoine Schmitt

Saturday night will again take over the Nave de LABoral Centro de Arte. Highlights of the night include producer Throwing Snow, aka Ross Tones, who will showcase his fourth album, Dragons AV, a work halfway between science and ancient wisdom, between prehistoric rites and the complexities of the contemporary world. The ten tracks in this album combine solid electronic beats with the physicality of countless acoustic instruments, accompanied by a neural network of visual elements created in collaboration with the artist and technologist Matt Woodham.

The live show by two-piece Enxin/Onyx is a constant interaction between elements of each artist’s individual practices, generating a sonic experience which knows no bounds. Zoë Mc Pherson and Alessandra Leone come to Gijón with Pitch Blender live AV, a strong setlist full of cybernetic experiments for the dancefloor, like a rave in an art space, released through her own SFX label, also co-directed with Alessandra Leone.

L.E.V. kicks off a new series of concerts and sound actions at non-conventional spaces, to be celebrated in different formats and locations in the following months. The chosen location is the Laguna Boreal in Gijón’s Jardín Botánico Atlántico, a space they are taking it back with two live shows on Sunday, 30 April at midday, in a new format the audience will enjoy through wireless headphones this thanks to a close collaboration with Fundación EDP, aligned with their values of environmental sustainability. 

Composer, producer and violist Astrid Sonne will delight the Botánico audience with her sound experiments, combining electronics with baroque music and jamming passages integrated into her compositions with a high degree of accuracy. While Samuel Organ, a multidisciplinary artist who mainly works with live instruments and sound design, will present a meditative but sonically varied blend of ambient, classical and electronic sounds. 

The festival line-up of audiovisual installations is formed by three pieces by Iregular at CCAI and Maxime Corbeil-Perron and Total Refusal at LABoral Centro de Arte. The interactive installation Faces by the digital art studio Iregular uses artificial intelligence. This work tracks the facial features of the people standing in front of the screen, and afterwards, it unifies and aligns them to generate a constantly changing single 3D digital portrait.

The piece OPTX.drips by Maxime Corbeil-Perron is a double-screen audiovisual installation that creates a work of multimedia archaeology, taking elements and textures from the now obsolete anaglyph stereoscopic technology, the same used by old 3D red/cyan glasses, revisiting it using current digital technology to transform flat surfaces into optic membranes full of relieve and depth, resulting in an expressive and abstract aesthetic.

And finally, the piece Hardly Working by multimedia collective Total Refusal is an audiovisual installation with clear political content, where the main characters in the film are NPCs, non-playable characters who always play supporting roles in video games. 

This year the virtual realities experiences come from the hand of Arenas Movedizas at Escuela de Comercio. One of the experiences is From The Main Square, directed by Pedro Harres and created with an international team of 14 countries. Using the main square of a new town as a stage, the spectators will witness the rise and fall of a diverse society which ends up completely divided. The audience may also immerse in Goliath: Playing With Reality, created by Anagram and directed by Barry Gene Murphy and May Abdalla, and narrated by actor Tilda Swinton, who guides the visitor through the different realities of Goliath, a man who has lived most of his life isolated in mental institutions, and who connects with the outside world through multiplayer video games. 

The closing act is on Sunday, April 30, at Teatro Jovellanos. For this occasion, they will bring back the project Dökk by Italian studio fuse*, a live-media performance that will take us on a journey to the subconscious, the emotions and the unpredictability of the human being.

Tickets are available from this link.

(Image courtesy of L.E.V.)
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