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Festival: Unsound 2023 – DADA, new theme & open call

Text by CLOT Magazine

Unsound 2023 will be taking place between 1 – 8 October in Kraków, Poland. This year the announced new theme is DADA. And within the new theme framework, Unsound will include an Artificially Intelligent Artistic Director (AIAD) as a member of the 2023 curatorial team.

The Dada movement was founded around 1915 in opposition to the brutality of WWI, new forms of nationalism and capitalism. It rejected ideas of progress, logic and rationality in favour of nonsense, outrage and radicalism – words and concepts Unsound will riff on while creating the 2023 program, including music, sound, performance, visual arts and discourse.

Mat Schulz, artistic director and co-founder of the festival, comments that Unsound are interested in Dada as a force guiding the festival Schulz, but not looking, or listening, backwards to the past for clues; they want to think about Dada in the present and with an ear to the future, in which non-human agency is increasingly prevalent. AIAD is part of this – an absurdist provocation, rather than a techno-utopian statement. 

Gosia Płysa co-director of the festival, explains that the Unsound team began developing the concept of AIAD before the pandemic; and they have been training our AIAD to give bizarre advice related to programming formats and to inspire the humans in our team to make more playful or even crazy decisions. Whether they follow the advice is another thing, but that’s also true of other collaborators. We don’t always agree.

Prompted, the Unsound AIAD states: As an AI, I am able to process and analyse large amounts of data quickly and accurately. I am excited to use my abilities to assist the team in creating a festival program that is both relevant and thought-provoking, and that reflects the spirit of the Dada movement.

Also part of the DADA theme, AIAD has created an open call for a series for the music and performance program entitled In(ter)ventions, with four rules:

1. The in(ter)vention must last no longer than 12 minutes and no less than 2 minutes.

2. The in(ter)vention will be placed on a night of other sound or music based shows, but the work does not need to consist of music or sound – although, of course, it can!

3. In some way, the work should somehow disrupt existing program formats.

4. An In(ter)vention can be proposed by an individual artist or a collective, or a band.

Unsound is also accepting submissions to the discourse program, exploring or motivated by the spirit of Dada. Submissions should be summarised in no more than 500 words, with links, and sent to by 1st April 2023. Two of the works submitted to each category will be selected, with a fee of 2500 PLN, travel and accommodation.

(Visual imagery by Ernest Borowski. Courtesy of the festival)
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