By: Heather Beyer
Since Rob Lucas founded the Akron Independent Film and Video Festival in 2002, the event has gone through several transformations.
“This was the first year that we incorporated video games,” Alana Gustafson, director of Outreach for Akron Film, said. “I think it is going to be so interactive, especially in the technology age. People who come to the event for the films will like the games as well. We are hoping that people will really take to the video games. [Introducing video games] is something that is kind of unheard of, especially within the film industry and festivals.”
The festival was expanded this year with the addition of several interactive video games which were mesmerizing to watch, but the main attraction at the festival was the films.
“Films definitely bring in everybody,” Gustafson said. “That is our basis for this organization — the film aspect of it. You think of film festival, you think that sounds kind of cool. People immediately think of Sundance of Cainfest. That immediately incorporates a thought in their head. That is what we try to do here.”
Some films that were featured were “Hit So Hard” by P. David Ebersole, “The Color Wheel,” by Alex Ross Perry, “Outrage” by Takeshi Kitano, “Dragonslayer” by Tristan Patterson, “My Heart is an Idiot” by David Meiklejohn, “The Power of Two,” by Marc Smolowitz and “Bonsai” by Cristian Jimenez.
“The aesthetic value of the art museum really helps us out. People really like it here. It is conducive for mingling with the dim lighting, especially at night,” Gustafson said.
The unique ambiance of the Akron Art Museum provided a perfect setting for the festival. Not only did it make me interested in the films and video games, but the museum itself. I actually left feeling guilty about driving by this remarkable building countless times and never taking the time to appreciate what is inside. Akron is full of rich culture and art that often goes ignored.
Another memorable exhibit at the festival was Akron University’s New Media Student Work Exhibit.
“This is the first project we worked on this semester. We worked a bit over a month. They learned Processing, a programming language designed for artists and creative coder/makers and applied their data collection based on their own interest to their code, and then created visualization responding to their data,” assistant professor in the College of Creative and Professional Performing Arts Dr. Eunsu Kang said.
“Akron Student Anita Marquart did her project on Color Visualization of Photos,” Kang said. “Her data visualization of color was to show that some of the colors represented in the pictures and images that she made and adapted using Photoshop.”
UA’s Anthony Mills’ project was titled “Power Cane.” Kang explained that the project was based on visualization using hurricane data for the 2011 hurricane season.
Next was “Interactive Performance” by Chelsea Blackerby. Her project is about “five people interacting with computational drawings using computer mice, and the artists created a unique drawing performance responding to the interaction,” Kang said.
“Black and White” by Christopher Smith “deals with metaphysical and physical ground and the circular process between the two, talking about diversity and absence of diversity,” Kang notes.
Durelle Harris created “New Color Waves” which is based on “data visualization using numbers associated with the scores several players scored in an NMA 2K11 basketball video game,” Kang said.
Another memorable piece by the New Media Class was “Bittersweet Charade” by James Okuley.
“He attempted to match a song he wrote with the visualization of data from within itself. He plotted out a number for every note in the melody, and then tried to sync the music with the graphic representation of itself, so the visualization progresses with the beat,” Kang explained.
Lastly, “Freedom of Speech” by Kaitlynn Lane was based onthe 21st Century, which Kang stated as “the best time to be alive as well as the worst. We are the only species who have the ability to understand our predicament and change it. It is our job as humanitarians to close the gap between those suffering and those flourishing.”
“These are certainly not master pieces, but they show the direction that our culture and society is heading. I believe this is a proof that we have brilliant, ambitious and creative students who are going to be the future of Akron,” Kang said.
“There are still not many places where you can learn and be exposed to the most up to date new media culture and technologies at the early period of your college life like our New Media program. In the Akron Film Pixel game show, among those successful games reflecting our current culture, we show students starting the future of this scene. I think it’s very meaningful to have them there for that reason,” Kang said.