Disruption was the theme of the 10 year anniversary of Fuse. Doubling with the occasion of the first installment of the International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA) in Canada since Montreal in ‘95, the entirety of Robson Square was converted from its ordinary public functions into a concentrated and accelerated art party. Among the numerous installations, there were workshops packed into the VAG’s multiple levels and courtyard. The stairs to the ice skating rink doubled as an amphitheater for several music performances. These adaptations had been thoughtfully curated as the first new… form… of New Forms Festival, which recently splintered off into a series of events after last year’s takeover of Science World.
While many were still lined up in a queue snaking from Hornby to Homer street, cacophonous bits of Ramzi’s live set were already bouncing off the office blocks and condos surrounding the square. The live performance of Phoebé Guillemot’s project was no less cheeky despite the more public setting. Her mélange of jungle beats was interspersed by her vocal interruptions, landing somewhere between singing and MCing the tribal party she was concocting. Her set seemed challenging for the audience to engage with at first, but as inhibitions gradually relaxed, it resulted in a highly mixed crowd who were genuinely losing it.
Following up with a focused set was Attitudes in Error, manned by a duo seated professionally at a complex workstation of analog equipment. Little else is publicized about the cryptic project, whose members are also responsible for the germinating record label, Acting Press, born out of a Vancouver-Berlin connection.
Unleashing their set with a powerful, dissonant wall of noise, they seemed to be challenging the event’s theme by trying to open up a rift in time-space that would swallow up the pomp and self-importance of those who were dressed in their Saturday night finest attire. For better or worse, that did not happen, but their textural explorations melded synesthetically into Nicolas Sassoon’s dissociative visual projections that lit up the space behind them in an exploration of moiré.
Closing off the night was an extensive DJ set from Anthony “Shake” Shakir, who began producing house music in its earliest iterations as early as 1981. While a shaky start gave a humanizing reminder of the decades that have transpired, Shakir progressed through a historically diverse range of dance music, mobilizing a floor filled with dancers from just as many generations. Highlights like the Talking Heads’ “Once in A Lifetime” were woven tightly into a skillfully interconnected selection along with cuts like Andrés’ disco-nostalgia anthem “New For U,” or Pepé Bradock’s filter-house standard “Deep Burnt.” Shakir’s approach was meticulous, almost academic, as he made use of the mixer and the two turntables in front of him as an instrument in its own right.
Even while the temporary disruption of Robson Square ended punctually at midnight, the actual night was far from over for those seeking a more traditional New Forms experience: Index gallery was hosting a wind-down featuring a late night live set from Lnrdcroy. Along with a slightly curdled mix of art school kids and somewhat burned-out attendees from the symposium, Sassoon’s projections had also migrated from the VAG to transform this more intimate space towards abstraction.