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The Battambang Digital Arts Festival’s mascot. Photo supplied
The Battambang Digital Arts Festival’s mascot. Photo supplied

Festival to showcase Battambang artists’ digital explorations

Cambodia’s first festival of digital art is set to draw creatives from across the globe to Battambang next week.

Digital artist and social anthropologist Philipp Hesser will curate the Battambang International Digital Arts Festival at Zan-A-Key, a temporary art space in the heart of town that will shut down at the end of the event.

“We are organising this festival to raise awareness of the possibilities and relevance of digital art in the 21st century,” Hesser said. “If Battambang is striving to be the arts capital of Cambodia, it should embrace contemporary modes of expression.”

Hesser describes digital art as any form of creation that uses digital technologies in its production or presentation. This can include photography, film, graphic design, animation, electronic music and robotics, but is by no means limited to these media. Hesser says that this broad definition facilitates the festival’s diversity.

“[Digital art] is an umbrella term for a variety of art practices, which makes it possible for the festival to include many people’s work and various interests,” he said.Among the local artists on the bill of events is curator and art historian Reaksmey Yean, a Battambang native now living in Phnom Penh, who will give a lecture about whether studio photography can be considered “art”.

Battambang artist Loeum Lorn will exhibit some of his macro photographic images of paint frozen in iceblocks, while Layhak Ouk, also from Battambang, has done a series of digital sketch prints of an Apsara dancer – an example of traditional culture produced in a digital medium.

On show at the festival, Layhak Ouk’s digital sketches portray traditional forms in new media. Photo supplied
On show at the festival, Layhak Ouk’s digital sketches portray traditional forms in new media. Photo supplied

Work from prominent international artists like digital painter Joseph Nechvatal and electronic composer Kim Castrone (US), robotics artist Patrick Tresset (UK), virtual artist Jullius Redillas (Philippines) and digital artist Vincent Greby (France) will also be on show.

The diversity of international artists mirrors the inclusive values of the festival, which aims to bring the global digital art community closer together.

“One of my motivations to curate an international digital arts festival is to cross borders, to build a network spanning around the globe,” Hesser said. “The internet and digital art can be used as a medium of integration rather than exclusion. If you think of it in this way, it shows its emancipatory potential, is it quite democratic.”

The festival will also host art talks, workshops and presentations from the artists.

Hesser said the event would show people the artistic potential of the devices they carry around with them everyday.

“The festival wants to show a broad range of possibilities in the field of art creation opened up by technology,” he said. “It wants to remind people that the devices they use all day are not only capable of sending messages or taking selfies, but are powerful tools in creating meaningful content”.

The Battambang Digital Arts Festival will take place on Street 2.5, Battambang, from July 19 to 24. Festival passes cost $10. Tel: 096 854 2843.

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