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Synch Festival 2006 a report by Scylla Magda
Curator – Co-ordinator Modulate / Audio Visual Arts

Modulate noticed the first Synch festival,  held in 2004, as a festival having strands in common with our own interests, and we had emailed them asking if we might contribute by  bringing an modulate octophonic sound installation / live performance but unfortunately we got no reply! 

A couple of of years later i managed to get travel funding courtesy of ACE to go to Synch 2006 to check it out myself first hand.

When I was researching the 2006 festival online prior to going,  it looked promising, and held specific areas of interest for me,  appearing to have a strand for experimental audio visual. However the website  was lacking in precise information and was hard to navigate. When I arrived this experience was replicated, with no directions to venue locations, no program times in the main festival guide and no clear indication that the venue for the second two days of the festival was 75 kilometers outside of Athens.

However, when I eventually managed find ithe Lavrio Technological and Cultural Park (formerly the first electricity production plant in the country), walking about 8 Kilometers after a local taxi driver dropped me in the middle of nowhere, the location was unique. 

Mainstream music acts and DJ’s, played on stages at the bottom of the large hillside, while other innovative and experimental  activities were were presented further up the hill, in the smaller spaces of the industrial Museums.

Here I found ‘8’ –  an octophonic speaker installation set  amongst  obsolete machinery from the early 20th century, through which a series of live performances were given by artists including John Duncan, Nikolas Valsamakis , Raphh Steinbrunchel, Coti K, Captain Miki.& J Vanzit, Ego Spastachrist. The only artist missing I felt was Modulate’s Bobby Bird, who would have been a good addition to the line up, having been experimenting with multispeaker performances and installations over a number of years.

 I tried to locate one of the a discussion panels, promisingly entitled ‘Audio and Visuals:  A New Digital Form?  However no times, locations, or even on which days the different panels would be held were to found anywhere. I asked numerous persons working for the festival, none of whom knew. Eventually I found a small sign, ‘Audio and Visuals Discussion’, above a circle of settees set outdoors around a  low table, and waited. None of the six persons listed as ltaking part in the discussion turned up, (perhaps they couldn’t find it either?), only four french people, who discussed french avaunt guard cinema, between themselves.

I was a little disappointed too, by the Moving Image section, as from the description on the website I had been anticipating a programme that included experimental audio visual and perhaps some live cinema performance. However it  turned out to be almost exclusively avaunt guard / underground films and  although this looked to be an interesting programme for film enthusiasts  it was not where my own interests lay. A lovely setting for screenings though, outdoors on a warm night, with the moon shining above.

By far the most stimulating area of the programme for me turned out to be the ‘New Media’  section, which as well as the octophonic installation/ performances, included Dutch Colony –  installations and performances by Edwin van der Heide, Roderick Hietbrink and Marnix de Nijs. I spent quite some time absorbing the textural audio from Roderick Hietbrinks sound and video piece, based on location recordings from the area, Edwin van der Heide and Roderick Hietbrink’s ‘ Spacial Sounds ‘, an interactive audio installation was awesomely scary, while Edwin’s  LSP 1, a  Laser Sound Performance was – at last! – a truely stunning audio visual exploration,  the highlight of Synch for me, and something I would love to bring to Birmingham one day. In fact all of these installations and performances re ignited  a desire to curate a sound installation and AV festival, something I first felt after being inspired by attending the Frequencies [Hz] exhibition in FrankFurt in 2002.

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