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Microwave Festival integrates art and technology

Can the ringing tones of mobile phones provide an orchestral performance? How can a mobile phone reflect the feelings of strangers? Culture and art are keeping in step with the new media technology including mobile phones, computer and the internet, which are now part of our daily life.

"Microwave International Media Art Festival 2004", an annual event that explores the integration of media art and technology, will be launched with an opening ceremony at 5pm on Saturday (October 30) at the Hong Kong City Hall.

The festival, which will be held at various venues from tomorrow (October 28) to November 20, featuring exhibitions, video screenings, workshops and seminars, provides an opportunity for overseas and local media artists and enthusiasts to share their experiences.

"Microwave International Media Art Festival 2004" is presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and co-organised by Microwave Co Ltd and Videotage.

This year's theme is "PROXY" with its focus on the micro-electronic usage of new media and the impact of globalised communication on art and lifestyle.

Telecommunication tools such as the cell phone and global positioning system (GPS) have created a new order of "cyberspace", bringing communication convenience and worldwide access of information, yet the new technology is also used for surveillance and even terror attacks.

The "Installation & Net Art Exhibition" on display at the Exhibition Hall (Low Block) of the Hong Kong City Hall from Sunday (October 31) to November 16, showcases 21 interesting works of over 27 artists from around the world. Admission is free. There will also be free guided tours to enhance education for students. Booking can be made in advance at 2573 1869 or 2573 1814.

Renowned Japanese artist Masaki Fujihata's "Field-Work@ Alsace" is full of visual stimulation with digital video images transforming into a virtual 3D space. Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau's "Mobile Feelings" explores the ambivalence of sharing personal information with an anonymous person through virtual touch and body sensations such as smell and sweat.

"Path of Illusion" from Thai media artist Bundith Phunsombatlert reflects on the manipulation of false artificial values in commercial advertising. From United States, Casey Reas' "Seoul A & B" is a software illustrating the natural interaction of drawing with one's finger to determine the position of visual element; Golan Levins' "Dialtones" features extension of ringing tones into live performance. Not to be missed are various designs including a "Screambody" machine from Computing Culture Group of Media Lab of MIT.

The "HIGHBAND" exhibition, featuring local young artists' works, will be held at the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong Film Archive from October 31 to November 16. Creative works include "The Discovery of Light and Sound", "What you see is not there", "CuteBoy Gadget", "Wilson" and "Selections of Robot Design (Primary and Secondary School)" by Hong Kong Robotic Olympic Association. Interesting robots such as chariot, lion dancing robot, robot puppy, robot playing basketball will be on display.

Another highlight is the "International Video Screenings" from November 3 to 20 at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive. Experienced curators like Hanspeter Ammann (Switzerland), Taruto Fuyama (Japan), Wu Meichun (China) and Thomas Munz of Transmediale (Germany) have put together a dazzling programme on five themes: "Fascinated and Touched", "Wave After Wave of New Japanese Animators", "Chinese Video Feast", "Urban Architextures" and "Video is Interesting, but Dead".

Tickets of some of the screenings are nearly sold out. Tickets priced at $30 per screening are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Recipients. Reservations can be made at 2734 9009 or on the internet at .

Christopher P Csikszentmihalyi, director of Computing Culture Group, MIT and Casey Reas, co-founder of 'Processing' freeware, will hold an artist-in-residence workshop on October 28, 29 and November 2 at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. The workshop will be conducted in English and the course fee is $200.

To stimulate discussion and provide a platform for the expression of new media art and the telematic culture, five seminars will be held on October 30 and November 1 at the Lecture Hall of Hong Kong Space Museum and the Cinema of Hong Kong Film Archive respectively. The speakers include Masaki Fujihata, Bundith Phunsombatlert, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mingonneau, Christopher P Csikszentmihalyi and Casey Reas.

There will be a music and video performance "Electron" on the closing night on November 20 at Habitus, 3/F at Western Market. Artists include PixelToy; ST Demos; SYMPOSIUM 4H; Teoh; Jean Sebastien Lallemand; Vibration; Emergency LAB; Kar-Fai Samson Young; Carlyshemoss and Remus Ng Siufat. Admission fee is $100 (in advance) and $120 (at the door). Tickets are now available at Videotage.

For programme details, please refer to booklets distributed at all LCSD performing venues or call 2573 1869 (Videotage), 2734 2900 (LCSD), or visit , .

Ends/Wednesday, October 27, 2004
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