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Digital Stages

Festival director Margarita Osepyan and curator Kate Sicchio brief us on the Digital Stages festival and the future of arts in the technological age

Artists have long used new technologies to push boundaries and relate to contemporary modes of living and thinking. This weekend the Digital Stages Festival kicks off exploring the relationship between new technologies and performance art. Talks, screenings, performances, and workshops will take place in venues across east London this weekend exploring the evolving relationship between performance art and technology. We spoke to festival director Margarita Osepyan and curator Kate Sicchio for find our more about the thinking behind the festival.

Dazed Digital: How did you start to put Digital Stages together?
Margarita Osepyan: It started with brainstorming. What structure to choose, how to form the programme, what experts in the field to involve, what is our target audience, how we fund the project, who do we go to in terms of partnerships.  We knew when we were planning the festival that it was a pilot and would have limited resources as it yet has to prove its credibility and topicality. So we tried to take this into account and shape the programme showing possibly the most interesting practices that reflect the potential using the available resources.

DD: Art and technology have been enjoying a happy relationship for years, what made you want to put together Digital Stages at this point in time?
Margarita Osepyan: The idea of the festival was born several years ago and the main incentive behind it was the creation of a platform for the exchange of different types of technologies, artistic search for new ways of expression and the application of technologies across performing arts. Later we came to realise that the accessibility of such experiences to a wider audience might attract those who are not that into arts but are into technology towards performing arts activities. The timing is about right, we feel. Digital media have changed and continue to affect and deeply transform how we live, work and play. Inevitably it influences our art bringing new dimensions and possibilities.

DD: How do you feel that recent leaps in technological advancement have influenced the Arts?
Kate Sicchio: First there is the factor of accessibility of technology. The recent  advancement has meant more artists can afford to experiment and play  and travel with their technology. But there are also new or other  opportunities for communication and expression that advancements in  technology provide, such as faster processors for more intensive video or smaller scale for more embedded technologies.

DD: What, would you say, were the highlights of the festival?
Kate Sicchio: The highlight really is the range of events and artists from across  the globe. Some particularly influential people such as Frieder Weiss  and Troika Ranch are part of the festival. They not only have been making software for interactive performance over the past fifteen years, but also are amazing artists. Another important figure to look out for is Professor Steve Dixon who not only wrote the anthology on Digital Performance but is also a practitioner and has a new show in the festival.

DD: How do you see the relationship between performance art and technology developing over time?
Kate Sicchio: The relationship will become seamless. Much like other forms have embraced their digital counterpart, performing arts and digital media will no longer need the "and". This is already happening with many emerging artists considering the technology just part of their process and not necessarily showcasing the technology as the end but as the means to the end.

Digital Stages Festival, Various London locations, April 22-27, 2011