Prepare for Lift Off: The SXSW Art Program Is Out of This World

Artwork: Optic Obscura by Raum Industries

Prepare to take off into new heights with the SXSW Art Program, which runs March 10-18, 2017. This year, the program is being expanded to deliver a next-level experience that brings together leaders from around the world in the fields of visual art, music, film, and technology through a spectacular showcase of innovative installations, talks, screenings, and local events.

Also: Meet Eisen Bernard Bernardo, the Mastermind Behind “Album+Art”

This year’s highlights include a series of five installations that will transform the way you see visual art. They include:

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism NSAF Not Safe As Fuck by: Hyphen-Labs: Ashley Baccus-Clark, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ece Tankal, Nitzan Bartov

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism NSAF Not Safe As Fuck by: Hyphen-Labs: Ashley Baccus-Clark, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ece Tankal, Nitzan Bartov

(Friday, March 10 – Friday, March 17, 10am-7pm) at the JW Marriott, Room 305

Created by and for women of color, Hypen-Labs presents a multi-layered possible future, creating a realm that The New Yorker has described as “another plane of consciousness.” The installation presents a virtual reality experience that puts you inside a “neurocosmetology lab” where black women are the pioneers of brain optimization. Here, instead of ordinary braids, customers are fitted with transcranial electrodes that allow access to a surreal digital temple blending the physical with the digital. The collective presents a roster of products rooted in themes of security, protection, and visibility such as earrings that record police altercations and clothing that thwarts facial recognition to show that we have the power to fight against the systems of oppression currently facing us.

Infinity Room by Refik Anadol

Infinity Room by Refik Anadol | 4 Channel Audio/Visual Installation, Custom Software, 2016 (Friday, March 10 – Saturday, March 18, 10am-7pm) at Austin Convention Center – 3rd Floor Palazzo

Enter “Infinity,” an immersive environment created by Refik Anadol, which uses audio and visual components to transform your awareness of your physical self. Here, the artist deconstructs the normal boundaries of the conventional flat cinema projection screen, producing a three-dimensional kinetic and architectonic space of visualization by using contemporary algorithms. Using light to blur and change the connection between the real and the artificial, the Infinity Room makes us aware of the way in which perception defines experience—and how easily it can be manipulated. Rather than use this as a means to escape, the project is a way to allow us to step away from the norm then return to it with fresh eyes and a new way of seeing the world.

TRIPH by Circus Family

TRIPH by Circus Family

(Friday, March 10 – Friday, March 17, 10am-7pm) at the JW Marriott – 3rd Floor Palazzo

TRIPH comes alive when visitors approach, picking up their presence and creating a light and soundscape filled with color that reacts to movement. The result is a mesmerizing experience that allows visitors to transform their experience through the ways in which they choose to physically engage with the space.

Optic Obscura by Raum Industries

Optic Obscura by Raum Industries

Friday, March 10 – Saturday, March 18, 10am-6pm), Austin Convention Center – Meeting Room 3

An interactive installation exploring the ideas of interface, connectivity, and abstraction, Optic Obscura brings optical fibers, a telecommunications tool central to modern communication but generally unseen, to the stage. Here, visitors interact with a custom interface to project visual content of their choice into the ends of hundreds of optics, pixelating the image into individual points of light. This light is carried through a total of over 10 miles of optics from the interface to a cloud of points, illuminating the installation and room at large, becoming a dynamic experience that you control.

toki – series #02 by Akinori Goto

toki – series #02 by Akinori Goto

(Friday, March 10 – Thursday, March 16, 10am-6pm), JW Marriott – Room 306

Artist Akinori Goto introduces us to the relationship between time and motion, by creating a work that depicts the invisible concept of time. Goto explains, “For my latest project, a physical depiction of time is presented in the context of a dancer’s vibrant movements, showing the dynamic progression as it moves through the air.This work could be called a sculpture of time, and through it viewers may be able to imagine a new relationship between time, movement and space.”


In addition to the installation, SXSW presents a series of talks that showcase the relationship between visual arts and storytelling, with events including Hack Creativity with Neuroscience, Arts and Tech, Museums of the Future, #Laught: Creating Art Among the Stars, Conversations with Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, and Sci-Fi by Design: The Speculative Revolution.

SXSW will also host a series of film screenings including 78/52, Divine Divas, MFA, Muppet Guys Talking – Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched, Paa Joe & The Lion, The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, and Spettacolo, Todrick Hall Documentary.

Local Art Happenings

In conjunction with SXSW, a series of local events will take place during the festival including HOPE Outdoor Gallery, Jim Hodges: With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress) 2014-2016, Orly Genger: Hurley Burly 2016, and XYZ Atlas: Congress Avenue.

Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Whitewall, Jocks and Nerds, and L’Oeil de la Photographie. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.