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Sundance Announces 2012 New Frontier Program

Sundance Announces 2012 New Frontier Program

The Sundance Institute has announced the artists and projects involved in the New Frontier program at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

New Frontier is a “social and creative space designed to enrich the festival environment and expand cinema culture by showcasing media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences and panel discussions that explore the convergence of art, technology and storytelling.”

This year’s program explores the idea of a “future normal.” Among the participating artists: Paul Abacus, Early Morning Opera, Lars Jan, Jeremy Mendes, Leanne Allison, Marco Brambilla Molleindustria, Nonny de la Peña Gingger Shankar, Mridu Chandra and David Liang, Brent Green, Hank Willis Thomas & Chris Johnson, Eva & Franco Mattes and Ho Tzu Nyen.

The 2012 edition will mark the sixth year of the program, which is curated by Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer. Beginning this year, New Frontier has moved to The Yard at 1251 Kearns Boulevard in Park City. The program will be concurrently exhibited at the Salt Lake Art Center at 20 South West Temple.

Full press release below.

Park City, UT — Sundance Institute today announced the artists and projects to be featured in the 2012 edition of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival. New Frontier is a social and creative space designed to enrich the festival environment and expand cinema culture by showcasing media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences and panel discussions that explore the convergence of art, technology and storytelling. 2012 will mark the sixth year of New Frontier, which is curated by Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer. A preview is available at http://www.sundance.org/newfrontier.

New for 2012, New Frontier has moved to The Yard (1251 Kearns Blvd.) in Park City. It will co-exhibit at the Salt Lake Art Center (20 South West Temple) for the second year. Both the Park City and Salt Lake City locations will be open to the general public Friday, January 20 through Saturday, January 28. Admission is free. After the Festival, New Frontier remains in place at the Salt Lake Art Center through May 19.

“In many ways, New Frontier represents the next generation of artistic expression,” said Robert Redford, Founder and President of Sundance Institute. “I am fascinated by its ability to both keep pace with and drive innovations in technology. Our hope is that its exploration of the critical issues of our time inspires people to consider what storytelling might look and feel like decades from now, and that they continue that line of thinking well beyond their time at the Festival.”

Frilot elaborates on the 2012 showcase, entitled ‘Future Normal’: “As we integrate electronic media deeper into our lives, we become part of a bioelectric architecture where cinematic stories are exchanged and collectively produced through interactive participation. The technologically inspired works by 2012 New Frontier artists, filmmakers, journalists, game designers and media scientists expand screen culture and nourish the cornerstones of our humanity – our vulnerability, our social nature, and our creativity.”

“Our New Frontier initiative began at the Festival and this year grew to include our first New Frontier Story Lab, providing creative support for artists working within this realm,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “It is significant that one project selected for the New Frontier program at the Festival was also supported by our New Frontier Story Lab. We look forward to introducing Festival audiences to Question Bridge: Black Males, by Chris Johnson & Hank Willis Thomas.”

The artists and projects selected for the New Frontier program at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival are:


Bear 71 Artists: Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison (Canada) Produced by Loc Dao and Rob McLaughlin at the National Film Board of Canada Multiplayer Online Game

Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison’s poignant interactive documentary about a bear in the Canadian Rockies illuminates the way humans engage with wildlife in the age of networks, satellites and digital surveillance. Audiences from around the world can use their smartphones to roam an interactive forest environment rich with bears, cougars, sheep, deer and people as they follow an emotional story of a grizzly bear tagged and monitored by Banff National Park rangers. http://bear71.nfb.ca

Jeremy Mendes is a Vancouver based artist with 10 years experience in interactive production including the award winning cbcradio3.com.

Leanne Allison is a documentary filmmaker who has won environmental and Gemini awards for her film Being Caribou.

Loc Dao and Rob McLaughlin formed the interactive team at the NFB and co-created CBC Radio 3. Loc currently heads up the team and oversees all English interactive works at the NFB. The NFB’s recent interactive work includes Waterlife.nfb.ca, Pinepoint.nfb.ca, Testtube.nfb.ca and Outmywindow.nfb.ca which have garnered over 20 awards, including four Webby, one Digital Emmy, three Communications Arts and one Gemini Awards.

The Cloud of Unknowing Artist: Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore) Multimedia Installation Commissioned by the National Arts Council, Singapore for the Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan for MAM Project #16

The boundary between viewer and art dissolves altogether in Ho Tzu Nyen’s sublime work, The Cloud of Unknowing. Step inside and find a comfortable space in the room. A narrative unfolds on a screen, a story set in a public housing complex in Singapore, where eight characters in eight apartments individually encounter a cloud, embodied both as a figure and a vaporous mist. The film is rear-projected on a screen with a complex soundtrack and synchronized steam machines to create a seamless and sublimely atmospheric sense of film/audience permeability.

Ho Tzu Nyen makes art projects that have been presented in cinemas, galleries and theatres, as well as on television. Most recently, he had a one-man exhibition at the Singapore Pavilion for the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). His first feature film, Here, premiered at the 41st Director’s Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival (2009). In the same year, his medium length film, Earth, premiered at the 66th Venice International Film Festival (2009).

Evolution (Megaplex) Artist: Marco Brambilla (U.S.A.) 3D Media Installation

In this magnificent, large-scale, stereoscopic, 3-D video collage, media artist Marco Brambilla unscrolls a mural depicting the history of humankind. Brambilla illustrates sweeping movements of world conflict by seamlessly remixing hundreds of individual channels of looped video gathered from Hollywood’s blockbuster films. Evolution (Megaplex) whimsically reframes humanity’s great moments while casting a satirical look at the bombast of the big-budget “epic.”

Marco Brambilla is a Milan-born, New York-based video artist whose work has been exhibited in major private and public collections including the Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. In May 2011, Brambilla’s first major retrospective of his video installation work opened at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. www.marcobrambilla.com

Hunger in Los Angeles Artist: Nonny de la Peña (U.S.A.) Immersive Game Environment

Former Newsweek correspondent Nonny de la Peña is developing a groundbreaking brand of journalism that offers a fully immersive experience into news reporting. Focused on calling attention to the growing issue of hunger in the United States, Hunger in Los Angeles recreates an eyewitness account of a crisis on a food-bank line at the First Unitarian Church. De la Peña uses game-development tools, Unity 3-D, a body-tracking system and a head-mounted goggle display, along with live audio she collected during the incident, to construct a fully immersive, simulated world where audiences can suit up, walk around and interact with other characters in the scene.

This project was commissioned by USC Annenberg School of Communications & Journalism in conjunction with MxR Lab, a joint lab between USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies and The School of Cinematic Arts.

Nonny de la Peña is a pioneer in the area of immersive journalism, a novel way to utilize gaming platforms and virtual environments to convey first person experience and presence in news and documentaries. A graduate of Harvard University, she is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with twenty years of journalism experience. De la Peña is also behind Stroome.com, an award-winning online collaborative video editing platform with users in 126 countries. www.immersivejournalism.com

My Generation Artists: Eva & Franco Mattes a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG (U.S.A., Italy) Media Sculpture

Hilarious and embarrassingly relevant, My Generation recreates the epic biomechanical failure that players experience when technology breaks down during a computer game and their expectations of gratification are frustrated. An annihilated computer is strewn across the floor but still burns brightly with clips of young people freaking out because technical problems prevent them from playing their favorite computer games. My Generation is a revealing reminder of how much human beings have come to depend on the media technology that surrounds them.

Eva and Franco Mattes are the artist-provocateurs behind the website 0100101110101101.org. Since 1994 they have lived a nomadic life throughout Europe and the US. Renowned for their masterful subversions of public media, their work is precariously balanced on the edge of legal, ethical and social boundaries. Their art has been featured at the Venice Biennale, the Walker Art Center, Manifesta, the New Museum, Collection Lambert, PS1, Performa and Santa Fe Biennial. www.0100101110101101.org/blog/

Question Bridge: Black Males Artists: Hank Willis Thomas & Chris Johnson in collaboration with Bayete Ross Smith & Kamal Sinclair (U.S.A.) Media Sculpture, Online Social Network, Geolocative Hotspots

Dissolving the distinction between subject, audience and author, this visionary transmedia project uses new media technology to create a uniquely vulnerable and intimate dialogue among black men nationwide, initiating a new kind of social network. In Question Bridge: Black Males, black men ask questions that are answered by other men who may live thousands of miles away. The footage of these questions and answers are evocatively presented in various ways, ranging from beautiful sculptural huddles that audiences can enter, to Web forums and geolocative hotspots across the country. www.questionbridge.com

Hank Willis Thomas is a photo-conceptual and new media artist who exhibits internationally including Sundance New Frontier. His Collaborative and public art projects focus on representing the complexity and diversity of human experience.

Chris Johnson is a Professor of Photography at CCA, originator of Question Bridge (1996), co-producer/director of The Roof is on Fire, and author of The Practical Zone System.

Bayete Ross Smith is a visual artist with CCA M.F.A. and work exhibited at Sundance Film Festival, Goethe Institute, Leica Gallery, Rush Arts Gallery and more.

Kamal Sinclair is a producer/director of integrated-reality art experiences with NYU Tisch BFA and GSU MBA. Former STOMP cast member and Universal Arts artistic director.

Radical Games Against the Tyranny of Entertainment Artist: Molleindustria (U.S.A.) Video Games

Molleindustria’s splendidly subversive indie games exploit players’ urge to win to provoke a complicated, adrenaline-infused empathy with shameless, profit-mongering protagonists. Spread throughout the lounges of New Frontier, Molleindustria’s Radical Games Against the Tyranny of Entertainment take on Big Oil, fast food, cell phones, the military and the economy of free ideas.

Works include:

· Unmanned: Pilot an unmanned aerial vehicle (a.k.a. drone) over a war zone while conversing with your spouse in the suburbs. · Oligarchy: Become king of the petroleum era: explore and drill around the world, corrupt politicians, stop alternative energy and increase oil addiction. Have fun before natural resources run out. · McDonald’s Video Game: Create pastures, lead animals to slaughter, learn restaurant management and branding, and discover the secrets behind the success of one of the biggest companies in the world. · Free Culture: Learn about the struggle between free culture and copyright. · Orgasm Simulator: Develop on-screen confidence and learn to orchestrate your partner’s moans with your own. · Phone Story: Get in touch with the dark side of your favorite smart phone with this educational game recently banned from the App Store.

Molleindustria [soft industry/soft factory] is a project of reappropriation of video games, a call for the radicalization of popular culture, an independent game developer. They produce homeopathic remedies to the idiocy of mainstream entertainment in the form of free, short-form, online games. Our products range from satirical business simulations to meditations on labor and alienation. Molleindustria obtained media coverage and critical acclaim while hopping between digital art, academia, game design, media activism and internet folk art. www.molleindustria.org/

To Many Men Strange Fates Are Given Artist: Brent Green (U.S.A.) Commissioned by Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center Media Sculpture

Animator/artist Brent Green breathes three-dimensional life into his signature nervously sweet, line-drawn animation style in his multiplane media sculpture, To Many Men Strange Fates Are Given. Plug your body into this magical sleighlike structure and enter a story land where a woman sews a spacesuit for a Russian dog astronaut and working-class people search for the meaning of their lives as they ride the tidal waves of technological invention. Their survival may lie in their ability to question forces much larger and more powerful than themselves.

Working in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian hills, Brent Green is a visual artist, filmmaker and storyteller. His short films and feature debut (Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, 2011) have screened throughout the globe in film and art settings alike including MoMA, The Getty, The Rotterdam Film Festival and the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Sundance Film Festivals. Brent’s work continues to tell dense politically charged narratives in his contemporary folk style, combining the newest of technology with his inherent self taught charm. www.nervousfilm.com


ABACUS Artist: Paul Abacus / Early Morning Opera / Lars Jan (U.S.A.) Originally Commissioned by The Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center Multimedia Performance

Riding the wave of TED talk fanaticism and armed with the latest wizardry in data visualization, the visionary/prophet/madman/cult icon Paul Abacus comes to Sundance to preach visions of a world without national borders. Culminating in three performances at New Frontier, ABACUS delivers a master class in persuasion for the Screen Age that promises to usher civilization into a new era.

Paul Abacus is the St. Teresa of The Screen Age, perforated by pixels. Since getting booted from Oxford, Paul has spent meaningful time as a park ranger and public speaker on the future of borders. www.VisualAnimals.com

Lars Jan is the artistic director of Early Morning Opera, an art lab specializing in live, cinematic performance. His work has been supported by The Whitney Museum, EMPAC, Princeton Atelier, Sherwood Award, MacDowell Colony, CalArts, Center for Cultural Innovation, & MAPP. Lars is a 2011 TEDGlobal Fellow. www.EarlyMorningOpera.com

Himalaya Song Artists: Gingger Shankar, Mridu Chandra & The Shanghai Restoration Project (U.S.A.) Multimedia Musical Performance

Himalaya Song is a musically infused cinematic performance that explores the majestic mountain range and its interconnecting cultures as the region undergoes major environmental and ecological change. Featuring musical performances by musicians Gingger Shankar (vocals/double violin) and Dave Liang (piano/electronics) and live narration by filmmaker Mridu Chandra, this live multimedia presentation combines modern sounds and ancient instruments with a cinematic journey through the Himalayan past and present, exploring folktales, mythological narratives, contemporary ways of survival and tomorrow’s inevitable changes in the great melting glaciers.

Gingger Shankar is a singer, violinist and composer. Her credits include co-composing music for the Passion of the Christ and touring with the Smashing Pumpkins. www.ginggershankar.com

Dave Liang is the creator of The Shanghai Restoration Project, a music group that blends Chinese culture with hip-hop and electronica. shanghairestorationproject.com/bio.html

Mridu Chandra is a filmmaker and a producer of award-winning independent films, including Brother Outsider, Let The Church Say Amen and The Canal Street Madam. www.mriduchandra.com/

The Sundance Film Festival Supported by the non-profit Sundance Institute, the Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including sex, lies, and videotape, Maria Full of Grace, The Cove, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious, Trouble the Water, and Napoleon Dynamite, and through its New Frontier initiative, has brought the cinematic works of media artists including Isaac Julian, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Matthew Barney. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Entertainment Weekly, HP, Acura, Sundance Channel and Chase SapphireSM; Leadership Sponsors – Bing™, Southwest Airlines and Yahoo!; Sustaining Sponsors – FilterForGood®, a partnership between Brita® and Nalgene®, L’Oréal Paris, Stella Artois®, Timberland and Time Warner Inc. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations will defray costs associated with the 10-day Festival and the nonprofit Sundance Institute’s year-round programs for independent film and theatre artists. In return, sponsorship of the preeminent Festival provides these organizations with global exposure, a platform for brand impressions and unique access to Festival attendees. www.sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, I Am My Own Wife, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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