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Room to play: Waldorf Hotel hosts New Forms Festival

Public domain is the theme of the 11th annual New Forms Festival, so it's fitting that this year's media art and electronic music extravaganza is staged throughout and around the Waldorf Hotel, Sept. 9 to 11.
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Negativland will be showing off some of its pranks, media hoaxes and "illegal" sound and video collages in the Black and Yellow Gallery all weekend long at the Waldorf. Tomorrow Mark Hosler of Negativland will be hosting a dialogue from 1-5 p.m. entitled Whose Voice is it Anyway? copyright conversations, presented in association with the Centre for Humanities at SFU.

Public domain is the theme of the 11th annual New Forms Festival, so it's fitting that this year's media art and electronic music extravaganza is staged throughout and around the Waldorf Hotel, Sept. 9 to 11.

"You have a hotel which is, of course, a public and private space at the same time, so we're creating a number of different art installations within different hotel rooms," said Malcolm Levy, director of the festival.

Bands and electronic artists will play in the parking lot Sunday afternoon, and bursts of pattern and light will bounce off an exterior hotel wall Friday and Saturday nights while slides and video projections animate the facade of the former Canadian Tire across the street.

"This year, it's really about playing with everything from linen closets to hotel rooms to areas on the outside of the building to every single space within the Waldorf," says Levy.

Negativland, American pioneers in copyright art who faced a trademark lawsuit by record label Island Records in 1991 for using U2's music and typeface, will show off its pranks, media hoaxes and "illegal" sound and video collages in one room.

Two of the key collaborators behind the Wikipedia Art project, which was originally intended to be art composed and edited on Wikipedia but was shut down 15 hours after its birth, will design a hotel room around the fiasco. The project also saw police shut down the Internet pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale.

"It's going to have projection and wallpaper and curtains all about Wikipedia Art," Levy says. "Instead of a Bible, there'll be a book of Wikipedia Art."

An installation called Art, Revolution and Ownership, curated by Martha Rans of Artist Legal Outreach, will explore questions of copyright law and related concerns important to sound, video and visual artists who mash up, deconstruct and decontextualize snippets created by others.

Placards, posters and other pieces by the Instant Coffee art collective will be scattered around the Waldorf, and visitors can acquire miniature portraitpictures of themselves, produced by The Art Machine, in the lobby.

Friday night festivities kick off with electronic music and visuals in the Tiki Bar, Nuba, the downstairs cabaret and the Hideaway. More than 35 local, national and international music artists perform at New Forms.

Saturday includes music and panel discussions about public domain, ownership and art in the Tiki room hosted by Art, Revolution and Ownership. These discussions will be preceded by a dance performance by Plastic Orchid Factory that explores copyright, followed by a discussion at W2 Community Media Arts/SFU Woodward's, Sept. 8.

Sunday will feature electronic music performed outside.

"That's really exciting in terms of having outdoor shows in unused spaces throughout the city," Levy says.

Levy listed multiple electronic music acts when asked what he's most excited about - Jeremy Ellis, Thomas Aston, Nautiluss, Mike Slott, A Tribe Called Red and Marcellus Pittman-until we cut him off.

He's also particularly keen to see the Wikipedia Art room and French artist Antoine Schmitt's Façade Life projections on the exterior of the Waldorf.

The New Forms Festival is part of an international, multimedia festival movement with connections to events in Krakow, Manchester, Berlin, the Netherlands, Belgium and Quebec.

For more information, see newformsfestival.com.

- Cheryl Rossi is a reporter for the Vancouver Courier.

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