In a little over a week, the 6th edition of TADAEX festival (Tehran Annual Digital Art Exhibition) takes place at Mohsen Gallery in Tehran, Iran. It’s a strong manifestation of the digital scene in Tehran and the people who make it possible, it features Iranian digital artists as well as far reaching international network of collaborators thanks to an ongoing residency program with NODE Forum for Digital Arts. The initiative enables joint projects of one Iranian and one German artist who work together at both festivals; this year it will be Lilian Nejatpour and Simon Weckert.
Similarly, the exchange with Ars Electronica Festival and the Austrian Cultural Forum brings Austrian Artists to Tehran and provides a platform for TADAEX and its ideas: Ali Panahi, the festival’s director gave a talk on current developments and this year’s edition edition at Ars Electronica Festival 2016. In addition, TADAEX programme also includes exchange artists from Brazil, France, Japan, Kuwait and the Netherlands.
At the moment TADEAX has a strong focus on audiovisual works and performances. “But it won’t stay there,” says Panahi. “We are getting our audience there. Many of those who are visiting galleries and exhibition openings are still expecting to see paintings and sculptures in the gallery space.” TADAEX invites them to experience digital immersive spaces and interactive installations and multimedia performances. According to Panahi, in the future there will be even more conceptual digital art pieces.
Accordingly, there is a need for a platform to teach and nurture creative coding skills, a role that TADAEX happily fulfils by hosting workshops for vvvv, Processing, Touchdesigner, Unreal Engine, 3D printing, and electronics.
Tehran is a city full of artists and creative technologists. Developing a professional career that combines creativity with technical prowess is difficult, because you can either study fine arts and graphic design or computer science. Sometimes it is also difficult to leave Iran and pursue an education abroad. Most of the Iranian artists featured at TADAEX or those who are pushing digital arts forward are self-taught and pioneers in their field.
One of them is Amir Bastan who studied fine arts and started patching with vvvv a few years ago. A participant in the first NODE – TADAEX exchange program along with Georg Scherlin, he is now developing his own generative visual works and installations. He is also responsible for TADAEX’s workshops which will take place in the form of a five-day open lab this year. “People can come with their project ideas, we have a group of mentors who can advise them and host pop-up workshops whenever there is a need for it. In the end, there will be a show of finished projects and concepts that evolved during the week,” says Bastan.
If you enter the scene from outside – like Ars Electronica director Gerfried Stocker, who was a guest speaker at TADAEX 2015, and many artists from abroad – you sense that this digital art scene has developed differently than the west – and it has different things to say. You sense a depth that might be lacking in middle European entertainment culture. In Tehran, digital media is used to tell stories, to involve you in a very subtle way and effect you by its poetic episodes. You can read between the lines, dig deep and find many more layers and inspirations to it. The visual style often connects two things: abstract ornaments and calligraphy of one of the world’s oldest cultures evolved into the digital generative visuals.
One of the first digital art studios of Tehran that emerged from this scene is the technology-driven media lab nullsight: It has a focus on creative & visual coding, interaction design, immersive environments, 3D video mapping, motion graphics and a major focus on stage design. Presented in venues like the Tehran concert hall, Milad Tower, Azadi Tower and Golestan Palace as well as gallery spaces, nullsight provides visual content for musicians, designs multimedia for major events, and realizes commissioned digital artworks and interactive installations.
Iranian artists are resourceful DIY thinkers and tinkerers; if you can’t order an audio interface on Amazon you have to build it yourself. That’s why a key member of nullsight is Ashkan Ghadimkhani, an artist and 3D printing expert who will serve as a mentor at TADAEX to help find solutions for hardware problems and for advice in mechanics, and also run the 3D printing workshop.
One of the featured works at this year’s TADAEX is Bridged Particles by Amir Bastan. It’s a data visualization which uses the data recorded by sensors attached to the artist’s body while sleeping, the process repeated for three nights and this piece tells the story of one of them through 3D printed data sculptures and a timeline visualization.
↑ TADAEX 2016 preview: Bridget Particles by Amir Bastan
TADAEX06 takes place from September 23rd to 29th at Mohsen Gallery and Darbast Plattform Tehran/Iran. All events are free of charge. If you want to join from abroad, express visa for most European Countries may take 3–10 days and cost up to € 100 and the TADAEX staff is happy to help you find accommodations.
Loction: Mohsen Gallery / darbast platform
#42, Mina Blvd, Tehran 1918843384
Mohsen Gallery is one of the leading art galleries in Tehran dedicated to showcasing emerging and mid-career Iranian and international artists focused on contemporary art, established in 2010 in memory of Mohsen Rasoulof, young photographer, and illustrator who died in a plane crash in 2008.