IRZU – the Institute for sonic Arts Research was founded in 2008 in Ljubljana with the aim of filling a local content gap in the interdisciplinary field of contemporary sonic arts. Our activities cover the following three main areas: audio technology research (digital signal processing, sonic interaction design, music information retrieval, non-linear acoustics, etc.), artistic productions (performances, exhibitions, installations, films) and educational projects (lectures, workshops), which are mostly aimed at transmitting basic knowledge on the use of digital technologies and conceptual approaches in sonic arts, to local composers and inter-media artists.
In its second year, the EarZoom festival is being produced in collaboration with several governmental and non-governmental institutions, which are contributing individual program segments as well as the infrastructure for its realization. The aim of the festival is creating a referential international platform for discussing the latest developments within audio technology research and the artistic trends of sonic practices.
EarZoom 2010 is featuring around forty international artists and scientists presenting state of the art research in exciting disciplines like machine listening, algorithmic composition, new interfaces for musical expression, gesture recognition, ubiquitous computing, ambisonic systems for virtual sound environment synthesis, etc. In Slovenia, these research areas are not yet developed, which was also one of the main reasons for establishing an Institute for Sonic Arts Research. Since IRZU is a private initiative, the successful implementation of its program agenda as a research, production and education institute, relies strongly on the EarZoom festival, which has a crucial function in promoting the importance as well as creating an international context for IRZU’s activities within the local environment. As a non governmental organization, IRZU is constantly required to legitimize its existence and fight for securing the financial means required for running its program. In order to operate, we needed to develop several different fund-raising strategies and after two years of existence, it can be said that the efforts towards keeping the institute alive and functioning are still exceeding the efforts towards developing professional contents. For this reason we decided to put these and other questions, concerning survival and identity creation within the institutional landscape, in the focus of this years festival edition. This kind of perspective extends the scope of the festival and opens a discussion concerning a broader range of cultural workers sharing a similar situation.
In collaboration with several European institutions: Transcultures: Centre for Intermedia and sonic arts & cultures (Mons, BE), Nida Art Colony: Interdisciplinary art, education & residency center (Vilnius/Nida, LT), Kitchen Budapest: Cross-disciplinary new media lab (Budapest, HU), Pixelache: Festival of electronic art and subcultures (Helsinki, FI), MigAA: Migrating Art Academies (Cologne/DE, Vilnius/LT, Poitiers & Angoulême/FR) we created a network project called T.R.A.C.E.S. – Transcultural Research, Artist, Curator Exchange Series. One of our main ideas was to trace and analyze the balance between the amount of resistance of alternative institutions – proposing innovative contents – towards established institutions and the amount of adaptation of their original agendas in order to conform with the program directives set by the funding bodies. T.R.A.C.E.S. also extends a space for reflecting on artistic and curatorial practices, while creating resources to share our skills and knowledge. The core of EarZoom is a three-day symposium featuring artists, researchers and curators representing governmental- and non-governmental institutions from all over the world. The main aim of the symposium is still the presentation of contemporary trends in technology based art practices, but furthermore, a critical reflection on how these particular contents are interwoven with local institutional systems are being encouraged. The task is to identify local political contexts that represent the basis on which the evolution of research and educational institutions, as well as production platforms was taking place throughout the years. The purpose of T.R.A.C.E.S. is to speak out about the internal working concepts and questions which are usually unfolding behind the scenes. Nevertheless these survival strategies occupy a large portion of an organization’s working resources and what is more, they even exhibit a strong correlation with its actual program/content outputs. Through exchange of individual experiences from local environments we would like to encourage the information flow on key strategies of establishing new / alternative institutions. In this way we can re-cycle information and consider the re-contextualization of successful solutions and development tactics in order to improve the sustainability of different local initiatives.
Miha Ciglar – Festival Director