The final frontier

As technology continues its relentless progression, Onedotzero has been reborn as a series of events that explore the rapid convergence of art, film and digital media. Yolanda Zappaterra explores this brave new world

In 2004, talking about the then-forthcoming eighth Onedotzero digital film festival at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, its co-founder and co-director Shane Walter said, ‘Onedotzero is not about one programme or event, but the overall picture it gives you of the creative landscape through a moving focus.’

It’s perhaps telling then that this year, for the first time since its inception in 1996, there is no Onedotzero festival. Instead, there will be a range of different events, beginning next month with a commission in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects and Southbank Centre Light Lab for Architecture Week 2007. Wind to Light, an experimental, site-specific installation by Jason Bruges Studio, will aim to illustrate alternative, sustainable ways of harnessing energy, with wind visually interpreted as electronic patterns across the installation.

It’s a long way from the short films collected together in Onedotzero_select dvd5, a ‘best of’ compilation from last year’s festival which comes out a couple of weeks before the Architecture Week event. But it’s a long way down a path that makes perfect sense to Walter, who says, ‘I think these areas we’re exploring may seem in some ways disparate, but we find them connected. It’s about a kind of advanced artistic endeavour that will become increasingly important as the worlds of art, film and new media collide, manifesting in new visual forms of expression. It makes sense – it creates a coherent platform that encourages creators and audiences alike to develop.’

It also makes sense in the context of Web 2.0 – a world where film-makers can make digital films on mobile phones and distribute them via YouTube, iFilm, and the like. Such a world has necessitated a shift in the role of the Onedotzero hub. From its original remit to deliver the best of digital work in moving image, Walter says it’s reshaping itself as something that’s more about ‘re-evaluating its future artistic direction in line with the current cultural climate, technological changes and its position in the wider visual arts landscape’. Part of that reshaping includes more live international events, including work later this year for Nuit Blanche in Paris and another major event in Buenos Aires, which last year attracted more than 20 000 people. But it’s also about using the opportunities that Web 2.0, with its broader bandwidth and greater interactivity, offers. At a basic level, this means films can have an on-line presence that makes them something other than the traditional film as passive experience, as witnessed in the delightful interactive version of Tokyoplastic’s Little Fella. But in a wider context, it’s about using the Web to ‘deliver and showcase shorts, interface with audiences and communities through our own sites and newsletters, and more and more engage with people through the standard community-based sites like MySpace, YouTube and Flickr’, says Walter.

All of which might make fans of the films and the festivals worried about their imminent demise, but judging by the calibre of the films on the latest DVD, there is still an impressive amount of innovation, exploration and experimentation going on in digital moving image, and it’s particularly heartening that much of it is at an intellectual rather than a technological level. Marcin Slawek’s Japanese Balls, Ian W Gouldstone’s Guy 101, Richard Fenwick’s RND#16, Motomichi Nakamura’s We Share Our Mothers’ Health, Nakd’s Box and the aforementioned Tokyoplastic are all stand-out films whose content, composition, structure, plotting and narrative are adventurous and forward-looking rather than derivative and predictable. Combined with the planned live events, such innovation suggests that Onedotzero has plotted a course that will continue to boldly go where no-one has gone before.

Onedotzero_select dvd5 is released on 4 June, priced £17.99. Jason Bruges Studio’s Wind to Light will be held at the Southbank Centre Light Lab, London SE1, from 15-24 June, as part of Architecture Week 2007

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