Cinevolution Announces Digital Carnival Z Featuring UNION

Alt Text: A close up of tNancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber leaning into each other in a dark enclosure.

Cinevolution Announces Digital Carnival Z Featuring UNION

A speculative sci-fi exhibition set in the year 3000 where habitable space is limited and touch is forbidden.

Arriving on April 24th at the Richmond Art Gallery

February 23rd, 2021 (Vancouver, BC) Cinevolution Media Arts Society announces the return of their flagship annual event, Digital Carnival Z, a festival of cutting-edge media art for audiences of all ages. The festival will be headlined by UNION, an exhibition and experience created by critically acclaimed artists Nancy Lee 李南屏 and Kiran Bhumber and presented in partnership with the Richmond Art Gallery. Digital Carnival Z will take place as a hybrid festival for the first time, with UNION held at the Richmond Art Gallery, beginning April 24th through June 5th, and the rest of the exhibits available for viewing virtually at from April 21st to June 5th.

Set in the year 3000, UNION imagines a world in which the nation state has collapsed, and viral air pollution limits habitable space and physical contact. Following a year-long worldwide blackout resulting from airpocalypse induced cyber warfare in 2024, all digitized information has been lost, and most print materials have been used for fuel. Humans seek refuge indoors, physically isolated but connected via the new cyberworld. Cultural memory, stored in genetics, is a construct of the spiritual and ancestral past. Passed down from generation to generation, it remains dormant until accessed through sacred ritual of spiritual union, such as weddings, and physical intimacy. Touch has become forbidden and access to cultural memories have been lost. UNION is about two beings discovering their ancestral memories through the longing for touch, and rituals practiced in their post-apocalyptic wedding ceremony. Attendees will become immersed in this new world via a series of experiences including a short film, 3D printed sculptures, propaganda messages, two futuristic bridal dresses, 16-channel interactive sound and visual projection map installation reflecting the multiple worlds where UNION is set, and a web XR virtual environment that can be experienced online. 

The creative process behind UNION has been a deeply personal experience for both Lee and Bhumber, each confronting the expectations born from cultural norms. Bhumber explains, “I have felt like a stranger to many aspects of my Punjabi heritage. Only in the last few years have I explored creating works interrogating this estrangement. I want to experience the feeling of belonging to culture by performing rituals that connect me to my ancestral past – rituals that, due to familial circumstances, are not available to me.” Lee adds, “I wanted to challenge the conservative gender expectations of women within East and South Asian cultures. The story UNION tells is set in a distant, post-apocalyptic future precisely because my experience as a Taiwanese, non-binary femme in the present feels so constricted that I felt it necessary to abandon the present world entirely. Weddings are such a big part of both our cultures, but homophobia, sexism, classism, and the challenge of growing up in single parent households complicate our access to this tradition. As the pandemic developed, the scope of UNION expanded to address particular challenges experienced during lockdown. As many queers and BIPOCs rely on their chosen families for support that is often unavailable in their immediate bubbles, the pandemic has created a heightened sense of isolation, further explored throughout UNION.” 

In addition to UNION, Digital Carnival Z will focus on artworks that explore alternative conceptions of the relationship between bodies, gestures, culture and society. “True to the low-barrier, inclusive spirit of the festival, and our contention with differently embodied experiences, this year’s Digital Carnival Z program has been developed with a focus on digital accessibility,” explains Yun-Jou Chang, Executive Director of Cinevolution. “Each artist has been challenged to consider accessibility for various disability communities within the context of their work, and to incorporate accessibility considerations into their creative process. We are very excited to see what comes out of this process.” Cinevolution is proud to announce the lineup for Digital Carnival Z will include: 

Natasha “Courage” Bacchusreflection of myself: Courage is a Tkaronto-Guyanese Black Deaf Queer Female, and former Deafolympican. Her new video work, reflection of myself, shares her experiences of personal trauma within the broader context of a white, patriarchal, colonial society. 

Margaret Dragu, with Justine A. Chambers – NEW NORMAL: an embodied novel: Margaret Dragu maps her experience of moving through the public sphere as a person with a mobility issue. Alongside dance artist Justine A. Chambers, they create an immersive installation that explores the social architecture of ability through video, performance, music and text.  

Danielle Long(un)important, today is: A queer emerging contemporary dance artist and self-taught filmmaker, Danielle Long creates the interdisciplinary experimental movement short film (un)important, today is using physical movement to highlight the exploration and declaration of self.

Mickey L.D. MorganNegev Varod/Seeing Pink: Practicing the oral-written paired tradition of Judaism with an emphasis on translating for multiple points of access, Negev Varod/Seeing Pink is a visual-scroll-format and audio-collage thought-stream poem focussed on pink-washing, the act of propagandizing 2LGBTQ+ acceptance in order to obscure systemic violence.

Kofi OduroDigital Exploration of the Expansion: Montreal-based creative coder and engineer, thinker, poet, and performer Kofi Oduro‘s Digital Exploration of the Expansion is a presentation and performance of a speculative fiction through live coding, creative coding, and other mediums that explores how the body can be reimagined. 

Juli SaragosaLet Me In: Let Me In is an interactive web-based queer Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) piece using acoustic close-ups to show how the sum of the parts of a queer body, visible and audible, is read subconsciously in order for a perception of queerness or gender to be made. 

Aside from UNION which will be held at the Richmond Art Gallery, all exhibits from Digital Carnival Z will be available via beginning on April 21st. Stay tuned for more information and updates on UNION and Digital Carnival Z in the coming weeks. 

Learn More About Cinevolution and Digital Carnival Z: 

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