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ARIA Research Seminar: Welcome to the Desert of the Real

Welcome to the Desert of the Real
ARIA Research Seminar

organized by Academy & Conservatoire
in collaboration with ARIA & DE SINGEL

During this symposium, ARIA and ARTICULATE open the doors to the community of researchers in the arts, 3BA and MA students, and those interested.
It will be an afternoon of exchanging ideas and inspiration, but also a moment of encounter, with some food and drinks, followed by the exceptional evening concert 'BIOSPHERE'.

"Welcome to the desert of the real" is the catchy paraphrase by Morpheus – the character in the 1999 film ‘The Matrix’ – of the words of Jean Baudrillard, which alerted his readers to a reality that has increasingly become a "hyper-reality". A world where real and unreal, authentic experience and simulation, sight and image, fact and fiction, truth and lies, are inextricably entwined, and intertwined. 

As early as 1950, the visionary Edgar Varèse created an allegory for the desolate deserts in the human mind with his composition ‘Déserts’. Varèse's revolutionary work not only gives voice to stripped-down nature that suggests barrenness, detachment, and timelessness, but also to that remote inner space that no telescope or microscope can reach, where man is alone, a world of mystery and essential solitude. In the past year, the pandemic has further accelerated the colonization of our world of experience by images and screens, simulations generated by computer algorithms, binary bits and bytes, and substituting simulacra. With the exponential increase of digital stimuli, pixels and streams, the desolation of the human soul increased proportionally.

Programme Wednesday 27 October

15:00 – 15:15 Welcome by Kevin Voets
15:15 – 16:00 Lecture ‘Aesthetic Life beyond the Digital Desert’, by Pascal Gielen & Marlies De Munck
16:00 – 16:20 Lecture-performance ‘The same sea’, by Charlotte Van den Broeck & Jana Coorevits
16:20 – 16:35 Break
16:35 – 17:05 Lecture ‘The desert (not) seen’, by Steven Humblet
17:05 – 17:40 Performance ‘All I’s On Me’, by researchers of MAXlab and CREATIE
17:40 – 18:00 Closing words by Kevin Voets
18:00 – 19:00 Food by Kapitän (in Club Conservatorium)
19:15 – 19:45 Introduction concert, by Kevin Voets
20:00 – 22:00 Concert ‘BIOSPHERE’, by HERMESensemble

More on the programme

‘Aesthetic Life beyond the Digital Desert’, lecture by Pascal Gielen & Marlies De Munck
During Covid-19 we were richly treated on digital cultural performances. However, many of those streamings and television broadcasts could hardly appeal to us. Despite the rich offer and the many creative efforts of artists, it felt as if our sensory experience source had been drained. Art seems to survive hardly in the digital desert. In our lecture we try to find out why a digital artistic experience can hardly stick with us and especially what an aesthetic experience does need. Aesthetics are not a luxury, but a matter of life. After all, culture determines the difference between surviving and living.

‘The same sea’, lecture-performance by Charlotte Van den Broeck & Jana Coorevits
With ‘The same sea’ writer Charlotte Van den Broeck and filmmaker Jana Coorevits present their methodology (lecture/image).
Over a period of four days, they recorded a seascape from the same position during sunrise and sunset. The repeated observation of this view forms the starting point for a methodological investigation into a shared visual language.
In this case, the sea is the depicted landscape. A seascape which occupies a vast, open space. This ‘empty’ image allows maximum attention for light and colour as signifiers. At the same time the image of the sea becomes a common area filled with meanings and associations. This tension between the empty image and the saturated meaning of the depiction approximates a poetic interspace.
Utilizing a deconstructive method, the sensorial building blocks of the landscape, its colours, forms and textures are extracted from their context to then gain meaning within a new artistic work.
In addition, they will briefly present their most recent project ‘Revolutionary Letters’.

‘The desert (not) seen’, lecture by Steven Humblet
Photographing the desert is an almost impossible task. Its vast expanse, lack of clear boundaries and seemingly infinitely retreating horizon, makes it difficult to contain in a single image. Besides some contemporary examples of desert photography, I will mainly focus on the early attempts of 19th-century photographers to come to terms with this new but also very exciting landscape. It is in these first attempts that a photographic vocabulary was tested and sometimes also established for dealing with the massive scale and eerie emptiness of the desert.

‘All I’s On Me’, performance, by researchers of MAXlab and CREATIE
Commissioned by MAXlab, Yanis Berrewaerts, alumni Graphic Design at the Academy, reworked his master project 'All I's On Me: An Autonomous Anatomical Design Experiment'. With 3D scans of his body parts, he modelled a digital world in which his virtual alter ego melts into a landscape covered with his own skin. Poet Philip Meersman and flautist Ine Vanoeveren set to work with these images in a performance in which cutting and pasting become a radical attempt to get a grip on reality (again), to anchor ourselves firmly in our physical reality, against the unbearable fear of seeing ourselves as non-existent.

(Image: Jana Coorevits)