It was tough, at first, to get a sense of just what Athens Slingshot was all about. The “new showcase for music, innovative art and technology” seemed from the beginning to have a penchant for the mysterious, boasting a brightly colored, often confounding website and an interesting PR push: Last month, we began receiving in our various inboxes a steady stream of strange pictures, hazy shots of local celebrities like Michael Stipe peering into the camera with blank expressions and holding the same giant yellow “O.”
Teeth pulled, we eventually got to the bottom of it all, and behind the maze-like mission statements and evasive PR maneuvering we found a pair of passionate souls in director Kai Riedl and art curator Eric Marty. “We keep exporting things we can do here,” longtime Athenian Riedl explains of the idea behind the one-day festival, forged on a shoestring budget with the help of a handful of forward-thinking local organizations and which aims, organizers explain, to connect Athens with the wider world, to build a bridge between the local community and the global one and, above all, to transform Athens into an international arts destination.
With myriad events happening throughout the day, attendees can expect a dense but welcoming vibe, a chance for an intimate glimpse into the collective creative mind and, ultimately, to participate in something truly special: the opportunity to witness the birth of some big ideas.
Wristbands are available at Little Kings Shuffle Club (“Slingshot central”) or any of the other participating venues the day of the event and are only $5. As a bonus, several local restaurants are offering 20 percent off on Saturday with a Slingshot wristband. Read on for some planned highlights, and peep more details, including the full schedule, at athensslingshot.com. [Gabe Vodicka]
Perhaps aiming to set a mental framework for the day’s digitally dense activities, Slingshot will kick off with two educational panels in the CinéLab. UGA’s Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE) will host “Locative Media & Society” at 2 p.m. with panelists Chris Eaket, Conor McGarrigle, Genevieve Hoffman and Brinkley Warren.
Two participatory demonstrations of locative media—media that is aware of and utilizes individual users’ locations to provide personalized, location-specific experiences—will be featured during Slingshot: McGarrigle’s “WalkSpace,” a mobile app and artist-led stroll inspired by the Situationist dèrive, and Hoffman and Emiliano Burgos’ “Darkness Map,” an app that crowd-sources data to create a visualization of nighttime light in the urban environment.
The UGA Willson Center for Humanities and Arts’ panel “Translocal Future” follows at 3 p.m., with panelists Mark Callahan, Jason Freeman and Kay Beck discussing the emergence and growth of translocality in media, or the ability of media to transcend geographical identities and network similarly minded individuals on the basis of shared interests, values or goals.
With an emphasis on non-traditional art forms that incorporate performance, sound, video, social media, interactivity, locative media and site-specific work, Slingshot aspires to condense artwork from over 45 artists representing upwards of 20 countries into only three blocks of downtown. Utilizing spaces such as Ciné, New Earth Music Hall and the recently vacated 42 Degrees location (next to Farm 255) as well as the outdoor urban environment, pieces range from Ernesto Gomez’s “Urban Oscillation,” a sound performance of automobiles near and within the Washington Street parking deck at 8 p.m., to Envelop Atlanta’s 100 small pieces hidden around the festival site.
At the cross-section of music and art, from 4–11 p.m. the CinéLab will rotate continuously among an audiovisual program consisting of eight works and two distinct sound programs: “Acousma,” a collection of five electronic music compositions, and “Soundscapes,” a group of three recordings that are documentary in nature. Athens boasts itself as an art town, yet it’s extremely rare for so many non-regional works to be exhibited at once—let alone in a single, fleeting day—so don’t let the chance to witness some mind-bending experimentation pass you by.
“Small Planet,” a showcase of ethnographic and experimental shorts screening in Ciné’s theater, will feature North American premieres of Than, by London-based filmmakers Danny Winkler and Emilia Loseva; Transit Zone, by Spanish filmmaker Santiago Parres; and Awakening, by Virginian A/V artist Will Copps. In addition, selections from Petites Planètes, an ongoing series by Paris-based, nomadically living filmmaker Vincent Moon, will be screened at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Much more than a mere archival project, Petites Planètes is a subjective collection of recorded portraits exploring the music and rituals of cultures across the globe.
Slingshot’s diverse lineup of performers, set to play various downtown venues, varies from the avant-garde to the powerfully pop. “Each of these artists is doing something singular,” says Riedl, who handpicked the day’s bands. A selection of “new sounds,” like the electronic experimentations of Diving Bell (9:30 p.m. at Flicker Theatre & Bar), the immersive improvisations of newish trio Brannen Burland and Schultz and the constantly shifting music of beloved local experimenter Killick (8:30 and 9:30 p.m. at Little Kings Shuffle Club, respectively), will be on display throughout the evening, to the delight of musical progressivists; those who miss the defunct AUX Festival can take comfort here.
But you can expect more straightforward sets of songs, too, courtesy of Atlanta crew Baby Baby (9:30 p.m. at 40 Watt Club), and brotherly organ-drums duo Grape Soda (12:30 a.m. at 40 Watt Club), among others. The Suzan (11:30 p.m. at 40 Watt Club), a delightful, all-female and all-party-all-the-time Japanese pop act, will bring its irresistible tunes to Athens for the first time, to our town’s everlasting benefit. Then there are the in-betweeners, like Harouki Zombi (12:30 a.m. at Go Bar), the knowingly gaudy kabuki-disco duo, or The Dream Scene (TBA at Farm 255), an ostensibly pop outfit more subversive than most. Local favorite DJ Feral Youth (11:30 p.m. at New Earth Music Hall) will provide a heavy-hitting nu-house backdrop, while Jersey-based “orchestral space-pop” group Miracles of Modern Science (11:30 p.m. at The World Famous) will defy genre expectations while keeping things moving in a pop-forward direction. [Gabe Vodicka]
WHO: Athens Slingshot
WHERE: Downtown Athens
WHEN: Saturday, Mar. 9
HOW MUCH: $5 (wristband)
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.