The 2005 Festival

The Boston Cyberarts Festival is a biennial international festival of art and technology and the nation's first and largest new media festival. It is intended to celebrate the incredible wealth of new media talent in its home region of the northeast as well as around the word.

Founded on a principal of collaboration at all levels, the Boston Cyberarts Festival is also the largest collaboration of arts organizations in New England, with arts and educational organizations participating within their own missions, producing exhibits, performances or discussions involving artists working with new technologies. The past four Festivals have been critical successes with consistent local audience appeal and increasing national and international appeal, and have been directly responsible for numerous art and technological collaborations between artists, researchers, technologists and arts organizations.

The 2005 Festival took place April 22 - May 8, 2005 and represented the efforts of over 60 arts and educational organizations and over 250 artists, curators and experts in new media ; all of whom produced exhibitions, performances, screenings, and/or symposia that explored the impact of technology on art and how artists throughout the world are using technology to advance traditional and evolving artistic disciplines. In addition, the Festival also consisted of approximately 70 related events in all media including: visual art, music, dance, new media, public art, literature, web art, film, lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and conferences that took place over a course of two weeks, at museums, galleries, auditoriums, and in public settings throughout the Greater Boston area and on the world wide web.

Artists who participated in the 2005 Festival hailed from across the United States and around the world, including media artists from Germany and Finland, dancers from Slovenia and Japan and a gaming-based artist from Beijing. However, the Boston Cyberarts Festival is also intended to celebrate the incredible wealth of new media talent in its home region of the northeast as well. New England has been noted to have one of the highest concentrations of digital artists, making Boston the high-technology cultural center of the United States, and to that end, many of the area’s top artists in this field presented new work at this past year’s festival.


Including exhibitions and performances from the new media graduate programs of MassArt, MIT, Emerson, RISD, Brown and RPI, - proof that the next generation of art and technology is being created right here. If it were not for the Cyberarts Festival, many of these artists would not have the opportunity to share their work with the public or to build partnerships with other cultural institutions.

Historically, Cyberarts has spent the majority of their Festival preparation efforts in organizing events produced by other organizations, however, the 2005 Festival featured an evolutionary advance with key events being produced by Cyberarts itself. In 2004 Cyberarts Director George Fifield created the “Core Events Weekend concept, developed through of a series of conversations and in response to a number of factors coming out of the 2003 Festival.

Boston Cyberarts believes the Core Events Weekend concept is a demonstration of the possible collaboration between Boston’s vital communities in culture, technology, and education, and is a key element in developing awareness and demonstrating the cultural and economic viability of new media art in greater Boston. The premise of the Core Events Weekend is to present Festival core concept conferences, event series, and significant openings for high-level artists and organizations within a concentrated period and location to act as the ‘kickoff’ to the two-week long festival. These core events provide an opportunity for national and international enthusiasts to visit Boston for a few days while still be able to experience the range and diversity the Festival has to offer, as well as provide local festival goers with a snapshot of what’s to come. The concentration of events and high caliber of art boosts the energy of the Festival, increasing its accessibility and visibility. Most of these events were located between Central Square and Kendall Square in Cambridge, strengthening the concept of a “core” for the Festival. Cyberarts chose this part of Cambridge as the center for its core programming because of the concentrated number of key collaborating institutions that reside in the area and that had planned substantive exhibits and events for the Festival.

The 2005 Festival began Thursday, April 21, with an opening night Gala event hosted and funded by Cyberarts’ Massachusetts Cultural Council Adams Art Fund Program Partner Hotel @ MIT. 350 guests from participating organizations, artists, press, Cyberarts fans and sponsors attended.

Sculpture by Dan Marsh at Other Nature, a part of Boston Cyberarts at Kendall Square

Boston Cyberarts Director George Fifield, Cyberarts Board-member and MIT Professor Pattie Maes, MOMA Curator of New Media Barbara London and Artist Feng Mengbo at the Hotel @ MIT Gala

The Core Events Weekend:    

Beginning on Friday, April 22 and running to Sunday April 24, the weekend featured openings for nine major exhibitions including six in the Central Square/Kendall Square area. Three of these exhibitions were linked by a shuttle bus route that carried hundreds of patrons from one exhibition to the next, encouraging and facilitating participation in multiple events. These three featured exhibitions were: Boston Cyberarts at Kendall Square , a collection of four exhibitions by graduate and faculty artists from RPI, RISD and Brown University, including the world premiere of Bill Seaman’s The Thoughtbody Environment ; COLLISIONseven, chance at MIT Stata Center, an experimental exploration of chance in science, robotics, artificial intelligence, art, the human condition, religion, philosophy, true reality, and more; and Scott Snibbe’s Shadow Play at Art Interactive – 2005’s Cyberarts Central where visitors could interact, experiment, and “play” with their own shadows and the shadows of other visitors.

  Luke Fishbeck and Muffy Brandt’s Make a Baby at New Works from MEME@ Brown, a part of Boston Cyberarts at Kendall Square

Saturday and Sunday of the Core Events Weekend featured the introduction of Ideas In Motion: Innovations in Dance, Movement & Technology , an event series featuring a two-day conference with workshops and master classes in dance and dance software, an exhibition at MIT Museum, performances, and film screenings.

  Video animation still by Vita Berezina-Blackburn, at Ideas in Motion

Saturday, April 23 was host to openings and events at: Axiom, Inc. Digital Disclosure ; Evos Arts Institute hosted 119 Gallery’s On the Map ; New England Institute of Art’s Cyberaction , an interactive game by Beijing artist Feng Mengbo ; Judi Rotenberg Gallery’s Artist talk with Mary Ellen Strom and Teri Rueb (in conjunction with two festival exhibits); The Independent Film Festival of Boston’s Finnish Experimental Shorts at the Coolidge Corner Theatre which was in conjunction with Studio SOTO’s New Media Art from Finland ; and a concert, Sonic Circuits XII International Electronic Music Festival: From Freex to Geex presented by American Composers Forum New England and Berklee College of Music.

  Hanna Haaslahti’s White Square at Studio Soto

Additional openings during the Core Events Weekend included 119 Gallery’s One Pixel Boston by Steven R Holloway; Goethe-Institut Boston’s Beyond Manzanar and Other Projects by Tamiko Thiel; Howard Yezerski Gallery’s Detritus by Denise Marika; Wellesley College Jewett Art Gallery’s History of the Future: the imaginary 20th Century with Jessica Irish and Norman Klein.

One of the 2005 Festivals’ major themes was that of Locative Media with a number of exhibitions and discussions being centered around experimentation with the ideas of location and place, both virtual and actual, and how new advances in technology may impact those ideas. Some of these locative media themed events included: the Photographic Resource Center’s Land/Mark exhibition which took place in conjunction with a lecture and an online initiative that featured artists who engaged photography with location-based media and geographical systems; Evos Arts Institute’s On the Map which featured traditional prints and video environments that explored real and virtual maps and places; and Itinerant by Teri Rueb, a framing of the conflict between techno-scientific hubris and the human spirit. Even individual pieces within collaborative exhibitions harnessed this theme such as Yu-Cheng Hsu’s Tangible Weather Channel, a sculptural apparatus that allowed participant to input the remote locations of loved one then interpreted its real-time weather information as a way of creating a visceral emotional connection between the individuals regardless of location. This piece was part of Other Nature , and exhibition that took place in conjunction with Boston Cyberarts at Kendall Square.

  Yu-Cheng Hsu’s Tangible Weather Channel at Other Nature, a part of Boston Cyberarts at Kendall Square

To find out more about the 2005 Cyberarts Festival’s locative media related events please click here .

The Festival included many other exciting events such as Axiom Inc.’s Digital Disclosure , Denise Marika’s Detritus at the Howard Yezerski Gallery and the 2004 Boston Cyberarts Artists in Residence at Technology Companies of Massachusetts (ARTCOM ) Carrie Bodle and John Klima displayed the results of their residencies at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park.

Video still from Bill Seaman’s The Thoughtbody Environment at Boston Cyberarts at Kendall Square

Scott Snibbe’s Deep Walls at Art Interactive

Still from Feng Mengbo’s Q4U at New England Institute of Art

Still from Tamiko Thiel’s Beyond Manzanar at the Goethe Institut


John Klima’s Train at the DeCordova Museum

Stuff for Kids:    
The 2005 Cyberarts Festival also hosted family friendly exhibitions to help expose children and youth to the possibilities of new media art. The Museum of Science’s Computer Clubhouse , a youth program that encourages young people to work as designers, inventors, and creators using new media, presented an exhibition of digital artworks created by Clubhouse members and alumni. These "Artists of the New Age" explore and master powerful professional multimedia tools available to them, manipulating digital images and creating surprising effects. Some members design original music, like Hip-Hop, with digital sound effects. Other members write scripts, film and edit all kinds of projects such as stop motion animation. Along the way young people explore their own ideas, develop skills, and build confidence through the use of technology.    

Survey Info:    
Boston Cyberarts commissioned the Center for Policy Analysis at UMass Dartmouth to conduct an Economic Impact Study of 2005 Festival. According to the results, it is estimated that the 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival generated a total regional economic impact of $2,986,702, an increase of $397,848 from 2003. The Festival also created an additional 30.6 full-time equivalent year-round jobs in 2005. In addition, surveys showed that 100% of respondents rate the Boston Cyberarts Festival as good (41.2%) or excellent (58.8%). 100% of respondents rate the events that they attended as good (36.8%) or excellent (63.2%). More than ninety percent (92.1%) of respondents indicate that they would attend the next Cyberarts Festival, while fifteen percent (7.9%) are unsure. No respondents indicate that they would not attend the next Cyberarts Festival . The 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival had an estimated attendance number of 21,000 individuals. Among these many attendees were curators Barbara London from the Museum of Modern Art and Christiane Paul from the Whitney, representatives from funding organizations like Creative Capital and the Mellon foundation and arts professionals from around the world. To read more of the survey results click here .    

The press and local media had this to say about the 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival:    

“The Boston Cyberarts Festival, along with its visual arts and music programs, will explore the place where chassés, leaps, and lunges merge with celluloid, cutting-edge software, and body–motion sensors.”
—— Boston Magazine, April, 2005

“The sense of feedback – of the medium of technology interacting with humans and the environment, which are in turn affected by the technological medium that they are interacting with – this is what the Festival is about, and this is why it is so interesting.”
—— Weekly Dig, April 20, 2005

“Creepy and awesome.”
—— The New York Times, April 27, 2005

“Technology was supposed to leave the body behind. … [But] A funny thing happened on the way to disembodiment. Digital artists remembered the pleasures of being human.”
—— WBUR (NPR), May 5, 2005

“Cyberart can be anything from an examination of complex ideas about the nature of reality to sheer unadulterated fun – and if you’re lucky, both at the same time.”
—— BBC, May 7, 2005

To read more of what the press said click here .



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