Amsterdam’s annual Easter weekend festival – DGTL – has grown steadily in its 5+ years in the Dutch capital.
So much so in fact, the brand has since gone global with renowned events across multiple continents including in Barcelona, Tel Aviv, São Paulo, and the recently announced Santiago, Chile. Here however, housed in its industrial home of Amsterdam-Noord’s graffiti and shipping container laden NDSM, the flagship early spring event acts as an unofficial kickoff of sorts to The Netherlands’ robust and diverse festival season. Across its weekender structure, renowned artists representing the spectrum of underground electronic music can be experienced, with the likes of Amelie Lens, Call Super, Denis Sulta, DVS1, Gerd Janson, Jeff Mills, Maceo Plex, and many more making appearances across its multiple stages for 2018.
DGTL, though, is much more than a music festival. It’s aspirations as a global ambassador for event sustainability, as well as its focus on the cutting edge of visual art and technology has truly set it out from the saturated pack of those less conscious (one should also mention, the diversity represented on its lineup also allows it to boast a title of “progressive” in regards to current industry protocols). Over its years, DGTL’s art program has been curated through a core value system, which includes sustainability criteria, participatory nature, awareness raising, and modularity. With these principles in mind, each and every art installation, presentation, or piece hold true to the zero-waste, multi-layered approach of the brand.
Here, I wanted to take a walk through DGTL 2018’s Art and Technology aspects, which traversed virtually the entire festival space from (before) entrance and throughout the location. Built around the theme of HYBRID, matching DGTL’s own trajectory as a brand constantly in flux, local artists provided a slew of conceptual art performances and installations for a multi-layered cultural experience.
First off, before you even arrived to NDSM, DGTL’s Augmented Reality App provided an experience across Amsterdam’s I’J River:
The first festival to utilize Augmented Reality for its floorplan and timetable, the DGTL AR app provided much more, while also being a catalyst for questions surrounding the use of phones on the dancefloor. Via specially located sensors, visitors were able to find information on the various locations surrounding the festival site, as well as acting as the “eye” to the augmented artwork “floating” between Central Station and NDSM. As the lines between reality and surreality; truth and fiction, become increasingly blurred within our real world, the question of whether the future of the festival will live inside the virtual is more valid than ever…and DGTL will be there.
This massive sound and light installation greeted DGTL attendees at its front gate. Based on a sequencer, this huge spatial light and sound piece, which included a special opening night live performance by Nick Verstand and Scott Franka, was a truly multi-sensorial experience. With sound as the primary daytime component, and a generative light system at night, The Entrance to DGTL set the tone for all the festival represents – audio/visual immersion.
Well in line with DGTL’s Revolution sustainability pledge, the massive Exploded Container may represent the most distressing of current world realities – our planets endless stream of global waste. Situated outside FREQUENCY, the exploded container flows outward in every direction. Made from entirely recycled material, this ATM Model Art, installation was unable to be ignored.
Created by Mr. June, specifically for DGTL, Gate, which (like Exploded Container) utilized the space’s iconic shipping containers in a multimedia fashion. By day, the former graffiti artist was able to create a beautifully painted and transformed structure, while at night it played as canvas to a slew of animated projection mapped visuals. With a communication-based approach to conceptual art, Mr June’s Gate brought attendees another step closer to DGTL’s unparalleled festival experience.
Housing GAIN by RA, and (by proxy) the likes of HAAi, Nightmares on Wax, Honey Dijon, Mall Grab, and more, Atelier van Lieshout’s infamous hybrid of past and future dynamics of destruction, reuse and creation premiered at the NDSM. An internationally renowned organisation who have exhibited at MoMA, The Hayward Gallery, and Centre Pompidou (amongst others), this massive installation pays tribute to industrial history across its multi-part construction – Hammer House, Domestikator, Happy Pouring Shed and Refter (housing GAIN by RA).
Featured Image: Noordstrook Entrance by Tom Doms