It is remarkable that while the pursuit of happiness is often regarded as the purpose of one's life, in the arts, literature, and popular culture, negative subject matter or 'doom' often prevails over happy themes or utopian concepts; the lack of drama in the latter generally regarded as less exciting. Numerous examples of this negative focus can be found in popular computer games where the market-leading games like World of War Craft and Grant Theft Auto center around cruelty, death, destruction and doom.
In the electronic arts, it can also be said that 'doom' prevails. In today's electronic and media art's curatorial practice rather dark program themes seem to have become the norm, and critics generally review positive art as conservative or esoteric. In this context, it is no wonder that artists have over the last decades become prophets of doom and often focus on morose issues regarding today's technology-driven society; through controversial use of technology, macabre persiflage, conspiracy theory, and many other forms of critique against techno-utopian ideas.
In response to this trend, a counter movement has started to surface of artists with a strong anti-conformist view regarding the accentuation of the (potential) negative aspects of the current technology and media landscape. In the footsteps of acknowledged thinkers, an increasing number of artists search for more humanistic views and emotional aspects of computing and media technology, pointing out new forms of intimacy, (social) interaction, multimodal sensations, esotericism, psychedelics, and garments. Boring? Not enough drama? We think not. These artists make their humorous statements by, for instance, inventing witty and uncommon uses for new technology, joking with our everyday dependence on media, and presenting unexpected reflections on the quality of life. Those convinced by prophesised doom scenarios may come out feeling cheated after attending this edition of Test_Lab, in which the return of happiness is celebrated and the true revolutionary artists appear to be those that counterbalance the overload of attention to war games and shocking projects through laughter and joy.
Test_Lab <3 STEIM, this edition of Test_Lab will feature performances by current STEIM members Byungjun Kwon and dj sniff.
By inviting STEIM, V2_ wants to show its support in a grim time when its structural funding is at risk, STEIM has started a new series called <3 STEIM (<3 being the character set to represent the symbol of "heart." ). We admire their music and dedication over the years. We hope in the end it's this positive energy that will get STEIM through these hard times.
This concert program will feature two of the newest members of STEIM coming from two of the lowest ranked developed countries in life happiness. There is a reason why these artists leave their familiar environment to pursue larger artistic goals and happiness is definitely a factor.
Opening by Bas Haring (University of Leiden)
Deranged by Bogomir Doringer (Gerrit Rietveld Academy): http://bogomirdoringer.com/
Schiedam Schnapps by Salvador L. d'Souza (Piet Zwart Institute): http://tris.ofamfa.org/
PlaySureVeillance by Gordan Savicic (Piet Zwart Institute): http://www.yugo.at/processing/
Designing Social Cohesion by Nynke Tromp (Delft University of Technology): http://studiolab.io.tudelft.nl/static/gems/tromp/report_designing_social_cohesion.pdf
Diceman, Breaking Conventions with a Die by Michiel Waaijer (University of Leiden): http://mediatechnology.leiden.edu/images/uploads/five-years-mediatechnology.pdf
m/e/m/e 2.0 by Danja Vasiliev (Piet Zwart Institute): http://k0a1a.net/
Taiknam hat by Ricardo de Oliviera Nascimento (Kunstuniversität Linz, Interface Culture), i.c.w. Ebru Kurbak and Fabiana Shizue: http://www.popkalab.com/
Test_Lab: Happiness (2008) from V2_ on Vimeo.