Convergence art and tech summit unveils line-up

Audiences at a new international summit will have the chance to chat with a robot and conduct a concerto with a garden of interactive plants.

Convergence, a new event at The Banff Centre, aims to explore the links between art and technology.

Akousmaflore. Parc Floral de la Source - Orléans (FR). Courtesy of scenocosme : Grégory Lasserre & Anaïs met den Ancxt.

Akousmaflore, Parc Floral de la Source in Orléans. Courtesy of scenocosme, Grégory Lasserre & Anaïs met den Ancxt

Taking place from 27-29 November, the summit will bring together artists, scientists and creative minds from across the world.

Convergence speakers include Éric Fournier, partner and executive producer of Montréal’s multimedia studio Moment Factory; and Conrad Bodman, curator of the Barbican’s Digital Revolution show.

Kohei Ogawa, a researcher at Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories at the Advanced Telecommunication Research Institute in Japan, will present his work developing an android robot.

Telenoid R1, developed by Osaka University and ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory

Telenoid R1, developed by Osaka University and ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory

Michael Naimark, a media artist and researcher who has worked on Google Street View, projection mapping and cultural heritage, and has collaborated with the likes of Apple, Disney, Atari, Panavision, Lucasfilm, UNESCO and National Geographic, will discuss the possibilities of virtual reality headset Oculus Rift.

Jen Mizuik, The Banff Centre’s director of visual and digital arts, thinks artists are increasingly interested in how their creative practice might be influenced and facilitated by technology.

She told IAM: ‘I think technology has now caught up with artists’ visions for it. At Convergence we’re showcasing [advanced]things like robots, but we also want to showcase a varied form of interdisciplinary arts and technology, for instance crossover projects like dance and projection, or music and electronics.’

Performers at the summit include the Japanese dancer and choreographer Hiroaki Umeda, alongside Canadian dance- research troupe kondition pluriel and designer-director Clea Minaker.

Marie-Claude Poulin and Emma W Howes' work Intérieur © Dominic Pacquin, courtesy of kondition pluriel

Marie-Claude Poulin and Emma W Howes’ work Intérieur © Dominic Pacquin, courtesy of kondition pluriel

The Convergence programme is also intended to showcase The Banff Centre’s extensive facilities: the venue is famed for its leadership programmes and artist residencies, as well as its performances. Mizuik hopes the summit will demonstrate the venue’s commitment to working with digital artists.

‘We’ve got amazing facilities here for opera, jazz, printmaking – we’ve got all those great traditional arts and we’re really focussed on invigorating them,’ she said. ‘But we also need artists to know that they can come here and work in our motion capture studio, or our green room, or with our amazing audio equipment. We can support artists who are working with technology, or who are working in new ways.’

Mizuik said the summit will be relaxed and open. ‘We’re trying to move away from the formal conference format. We want this to be an open event where people meet, see some amazing exhibitions and performances, and feel inspired.’

Main image: Marie-Claude Poulin and Emma W Howes’ work Intérieur © Dominic Pacquin, courtesy of kondition pluriel

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