If one thing is certain, it is that a slew of people left Houston, Texas this past weekend with a difficult task on their hands. How do you describe something to your friends and family that has no comparable counterpart? The founders of Day for Night had a vision for this festival that most could not even conceptualize, let alone have the means and foresight to execute an event of this caliber. At this point, whether or not other festivals start to follow suit by incorporating more futuristic art forms evolving in the digital space, Day for Night will always be ahead of the game as the spearhead of the “Light and Sound Collide” revolution.
To give credit where credit is due, the attendees of Day for Night brought their A-game just as much as those behind the scenes of the festival. The dark mysterious fashionistas of DFN put the flower-crowned Coachellans to shame. One of the best parts about a winter festival is the ability to layer up all the chicest items in your closet and still be comfortable, versus the summer festival scene when all you can wear without passing out of a heat stroke is a tank top, shorts, and a Kentucky Derby-sized sunhat. Day for Night should seriously consider a runway show next year as the “fan contribution” installation.
The most interesting part of this festival was the way that it not only entertained you, but it challenged you. The construction of many of the installations challenged you to think about how what you were looking at was built, how the waves of sound were timed with the movement of the light structures, and what sensations the artist intended for you to experience while viewing. This analysis can be applied to many forms of art, but the sensory engagement that you experience while viewing these digital installations is unlike any other. Part of this reason is because nothing about what you experience is stylistic or categorized into any known genre. The sound that compliments the patterns and movement of the light are not necessarily any specific kind of music, but just waves of sound that can feel almost maternal and womb-like, therefore appealing to familiar comfort within us all. This was especially prominent at the “Musica Universalis” installation by the United Visual Artists trio.
While all of the structures themselves are complex by their very nature, the immediately apparent simplicity of them made them very relatable to any audience. By no means does a person have to be a connoisseur of the arts to appreciate the art at Day for Night. On the other hand, while some of the stationary visual installations had a more minimalistic appeal, the Bjork Digital Experience was the polar opposite.
Virtual reality technology is becoming more prevalent than ever, but it has primarily only existed in the commercial gaming space to date. Bjork took this technology and teamed up with people who could program and direct it to create a multi-room experience that had people waiting in lines for up to seven hours to view. The general census was that it was more than worth it. She walked you through varying levels of her music in cinematographic landscapes across Iceland and even from the view within her own mouth. Bjork is an artist all her own. To categorize her would be an injustice to her art. She is simply a visionary that sees beauty in the unknown and the unexplored, before she has even set foot in it, and then once she has, she embodies it for the rest of us from her unique perspective. The Bjork Digital Experience was a glimpse into her ever evolving creative mind and her DJ sets gave us a previously unexposed insight into the music that inspires her own unparalleled style.
Another depiction of truly unparalleled style is that of Aphex Twin. It was hard to know what to expect from Aphex Twin’s set coming out of an 8 year hiatus, but also because it is naive to attempt to predict anything that is product of the mind of Richard D. James. His entire career has been a journey through the undiscovered, and his Day for Night set was no different for his fans and those who were there to pay homage to the man, the myth, the legend. The glitchy, off-kilter beats were notably taxing on some of the younger generation in attendance whom has become accustomed to some of the more simplistic counts and beats instilled into modern dance music. But this was more of an intriguing factor than a deterrent for those who were not used to it, because the obvious focus of Aphex Twin and his unwavering attention to each transition and movement could be seen by all. It was a true embodiment of skill and dedication to a lifelong craft, much more-so than an attempt at wowing a crowd. Even nature felt the impact of James’ set and a chill rain fell upon the crowd to the tune of the music.
The art, the music, the venue, and the people were all equally vital contributors to the ambiance of this event. The upbeat stylings of artists like Arca, Blood Orange, RZA and Stone Mecca, Kaskade, and Run the Jewels complimented the darker influences of Banks, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and S U R V I V E. The digital artists who traveled from around the world, dazzled and mesmerized with their installations. The old abandoned post office set the dark mood to give way for the light of the art to illuminate the venue. With only a few road blocks at the preview party from the fire marshals, no noticeable inhibitors of this experience existed for attendees. This festival has broken a mold not only in the festival scene, but in the world of art altogether. Day for Night truly is the new gold standard.
By Festpop Staff Writer: Lindsay Shearon