Ireland’s foremost interactive digital arts festival, /Glitch, returns for its fifth year, bringing a week of workshops, music, art and performance to Rua Red and MART beginning Monday 30th May. In the run up to /Glitch, we spoke with Algorithm co-conspirator and CLU member Kevin A. Freeney, who will be exhibiting two collaborative pieces with Janna Kemperman in MART and Rua Red. While focussing on video production and projection mapping in his position at Algorithm, Freeney also works as the visual side of CLU with musician Sean Cooley, who will be contributing a score to one of the pieces for the upcoming festival.
For /Glitch Festival you are preparing a project in collaboration with Janna Kemperman to be exhibited across two venues, MART and Rua Red. Can you outline what the project is about, and speak about the relationship between the two pieces?
For /Glitch, MART were looking for artists to make work based on the idea of ‘risk’. The two pieces Janna and I are making explore identity in the modern internet age. The majority of people in Ireland communicate with each other behind an avatar or a coded picture – like a .jpeg, .png, or .gif – on social media, email, message services or video, etc. We’re exploring the importance of the physical form when communicating to others. My idea comes more from how the importance of our physical form seems to be depleting as we draw so much from our online presence.
Can you talk about your collaborative process for working with Janna Kemperman?
Janna and I have worked together on numerous projects over the last four years in Ireland and abroad. The concept we are developing for /Glitch was Janna’s idea, and it’s great to work with someone who has an in-depth knowledge of contemporary dance and the moving image. At the heart of our collaboration is a process of finding the right vocabulary or imagery that might depict what we’re trying to say to each other, coming from two different backgrounds, and then merging those depictions into a single form.
You and Kemperman have previously worked with Sean Cooley for CLU’s music video for the piece Mirrors, which you directed and Kemperman choreographed. How does the process of preparing a music video for online consumption compare to preparing a video installation for a gallery audience?
The biggest difference would be the physicality of a video installation for a gallery audience. In a lot of ways you’re presented with way more options. One might have to think a few steps ahead in regards to the technical aspects of an installation, but that’s also just how my mind works. With a music video that’s going online I know that it will be viewed in many different resolutions and sizes and will always have a different surrounding. To be asked to present work in two galleries is a huge privilege as it allows us, as artists, to consider more aspects of the viewing process, and the installation of these pieces is something that’s really exciting me.
In 2015, you joined the audio-visual agency Algorithm, which specialises in stage design and event production. Has joining Algorithm increased the potential scope of the projects you take on in your own practice? How do you distinguish an Algorithm piece from a Kevin A. Freeney piece?
Joining Algorithm has definitely increased the potential scope of projects I take on, as some people prefer to work with groups than individual artists. Currently there are only six of us in the company and a lot of ideas are shared and discussed openly every day we work together. A huge benefit of working closely with other people is that you’re able to merge your experience with theirs.
An Algorithm piece or a Kevin A. Freeney piece? I see these scenarios of ownership or authorship as a dance. When you’re dancing with others, people see an entire group in motion and that’s what I try to honour. Dancing in a club is different to dancing in an empty car park at 2am. I’m a huge fan of collaboration as it allows you to share ideas openly without the concern of ownership.
Post-processing and editing is a vital component of the video work that you produce. Is there anything particular about the relationship between software and the physical world that draws you to the use of projection mapping?
Projection mapping is definitely an interesting concept because at its core it’s just a tool for displaying video. Having worked closely with [visual production company] Slipdraft over the last year I’ve managed to pick up certain techniques and have been involved in the development of new ones. Currently, I’m more interested in the content that is being projected rather than the actual methods of projection mapping, but that could easily change. People like AntiVJ are still doing amazing works.
With capable virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive entering the consumer space, how do you see them having an effect on the way that people consume different kinds of culture?
I’ve only used the Occulus Rift once and it was a lot of fun. I’m very excited by what artists like Marshmallow Laser Feast have been producing recently, especially their LiDAR [Light Detection and Ranging] scan projects. I would love to produce a 360º video this year as a starting point into the world of VR.
Do you have any projects lined up that you’re particularly excited about?
Apart from /Glitch and the Algorithm projects I’m also directing a CLU video for the new release and I can’t wait to show people that.
/Glitch Festival takes place in RUA RED, Blessington Road, Tallaght (beside the Luas stop) with a satellite exhibition running the MART Gallery at 190a Lower Rathmines Road, from Monday 30th May until Saturday 4th June. It will feature exhibitions, installations and talks from Elaine Leader, Margaret O’Brien, Helen McMahon, Janna Kemperman and Kevin Freeney, Sinead McDonald and Aileen Drohan, Seoidín O’Sullivan, Dr. Katherine Nolan and more. The full schedule can be found on ruared.ie and mart.ie
Words: Aidan Wall
Images: Janna Kemperman, Kevin A. Freeney, Jéréé Dubois