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Monday, September 28, 2009

DUMBO Arts Festival 2009

"Everything has been done" is a commonly repeated mantra in the art world. The truth in this is often seen in various art forms such as music, where creating new, interesting, and durable work becomes more and more difficult. Occasionally, a prodigy is hailed as the next Mozart and, of course, never is.

In the world of contemporary art, new technologies, materials, and media are often introduced to create works previously impossible. Availing oneself of these elements does not guarantee success, but sometimes creative applications gives pleasing results.

This weekend was the 13th annual DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival:

The three-day multi-site neighborhood-wide event is a one-of-a-kind art happening: where serendipity meets the haphazard and where the unpredictable, spontaneous and downright weird thrive. The now teenage D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival® presents touchable, accessible, and interactive art, on a scale that makes it the nation's largest urban forum for experimental art.

Art Under the Bridge is an opportunity for young artists to use any medium imaginable to create temporary projects on-the-spot everywhere and anywhere, completely transforming the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, New York, into a vibrant platform for self-expression. In addition to the 80+ projects throughout the historical post-industrial waterfront span, visitors can tour local artists' studios or check out the indoor video_dumbo, a non-stop program of cutting-edge video art from New York City and around the world.

The festival itself is somewhat unstructured and unpredictable. Many of the artists on the program map were nowhere to be found (inclement weather may have been a factor), and many of the exhibits required some diligent searching to be found. Typically, the artists creating the work were on hand and were quite approachable, eager to discuss their work. See gallery of photos here.

One interactive work which many found engaging was Kissing Under the Bridge by Hye Yeon Nam. In this, a couple volunteers to digitize their kissing:

The Sound of Kiss facilitates an amorous ambiance in which couples digitize their love while kissing. One wears a headset and the other's tongue is affixed to a magnet. When they kiss, the magnet and the electro-magnetic sensor interact to create spontaneous music. The musical composition depends on how far one's tongue is away from the other's lips/tongue and their style of action.

I empathize with the artist, particularly after working on this website for 3 1/2 years, endeavoring to show places, people, and things of New York City from a new perspective through the lens of my personal experience.

When the going gets tough and one's work is called into question, perhaps an artist should be prepared to defend it using the words of Robert Rauschenberg - “This is art if I say so.”:)

Related Posts: DUMBO Arts Fest 2006, Sink or Swim, Gallery View, Night in Bloom, One Front Street, DUMBO


Alan said...

A New York City gallery owner provides a global platform for Harlem's artists. An emcee, two poets and a visual artist discuss hip hop's rites of passage. A young Nigerian artist takes the national art scene by force. Read these and more at

Anonymous said...

These arts to me, something they are like things on the fashion shows...eccentric!:)