The story of NEoN
NEoN (North East of North) aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology driven art forms and to encourage high quality within the production of this medium. NEoN has organised exhibitions, workshops, talks, conferences, live performances and public discussions and established itself as a platform to showcase national and international digital art forms. By bringing together emerging talent and well-established artists, we aim to influence and reshape the genre. We are committed to helping our fabulous city of Dundee, well known for its digital culture and innovation, to become better connected through experiencing great art, networking and celebrating what our wee corner of Scotland has to offer in the field of digital arts.
You can view our past programme pages by clicking on the archive link above.
A short history:
NEoN was first developed with Interactive Tayside in 2009 to promote digital media activity in the North East of Scotland. With a focus on moving image, music and information technologies, the festival offered talks, performances, screenings and exhibitions that expanded the notion of art, information communication, media production and game design. Over 2000 visitors viewed new video games and interactive installations alongside keynote addressess from Bud Luckey, animator and character designer for Toy Story, and video game composer Tommy Tallarico. The festival ended with a stunning finale concert from Video Games Live – an immersive performance featuring game music performed by an orchestra combined with synchronized lighting and video.
Building on the success of the inaugural festival, NEoN 2010 grew to be a 4-day international celebration of new media arts. Alongside digital master classes, workshops and fringe events throughout the city, a two-day conference saw internationally-renowned speakers from the world of gaming, digital media and technology driven arts give talks to thousands of visitors. Pictoplasma (Berlin), Ian Anderson (Designer’s Republic), Tim Pritlove (Chaos Computer Club), Ian Livingstone (EIDOS), Ken Perlin (Visual Effects genius) and a host of others turned Dundee into a hub of inspiring cross-sector collaboration. The festival ended in spectacular fashion with a takeover of a municipal car park, turning it into a multi-level, multi-sensory extravaganza of live performance, DJ’s, projections and immersive installations.
NEoN 2011 witnessed our first collaboration with Creative Dundee, who brought the worldwide phenomenon that is Pecha Kucha to the city for the first time. The festival programme also included an exhibition and city intervention from Danish arts collective N55, a DIY-synthesizer workshop and concert from Dirty Electronics and a hugely successful collaboration with Helsinki’s Anima Boutique. A special screening of the Sigur Ros documentary ‘Inni’, live VJ-ing from Jaygo Bloom and a DJ set from 90’s Rave legends Utah Saints added further excitement to the week. The finale event of installations, performances and screenings in a range of historical buildings saw the city resonate to experimental drones in 18th century dungeons and live electronica in the dome of the city’s observatory, culminating in a large-scale outdoor LED dance performance on the iconic Law Hill.
Our fourth festival in 2012 launched with a performance of Matthew Herbert’s ‘One Pig’, programmed in association with Dundee Rep Theatre. The following seven days saw a fantastic mix of events and performances including the eye-popping 0800-GRL-DRMZ by Catrin Jeans and Sarah Messenger, Peter William Holden’s first ever exhibition in the UK, ‘Finding Kinaesthesia’, the gigantic light and sound installation ‘100,000 LUX’ and another sold-out Pecha Kucha night with Creative Dundee. Jaygo Bloom exclusively created an augmented reality app for the festival, ‘Bombaze’, and the closing event saw the old Chamber of Commerce building transformed into a retro arcade with games from international authority on gaming, Pippin Barr. And last but not least, ‘Digital Mash’ marked the beginning of a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with V & A Museum of Design Dundee.
Our fifth festival in 2013 marked the creation of NEoN as a charity and its continuation as the only digital arts festival in Scotland! Beginning with ‘This Much We Know’, a retrospective tour through Dundee’s creative and cultural history, the festival went from strength to strength and included the DIY synth, projector and smoke machine filled ‘Theatre of Noise’ and ‘Wet Sounds’ from Joel Cahn who transformed a public swimming pool into an underwater listening experience. ‘Drop In And Play’, devised in association with Dundee Contemporary Arts, showcased new games made by local designers and the closing event, ‘Forever Falling Nowhere – a pioneering new work produced in collaboration with Smallpetitklein Dance Company alongside Digital Artists, Sound Designers and Composers, used motion capture, animation, projection mapping and Kinect sensor technology to produce a contemporary dance piece of breathtaking scope and beauty.
The sixth edition in 2014 has a theme of FUTUREPROOFING and invited the contribution of leading arts agency New Media Scotland and its executive director Mark Daniels, and associate curator Sarah Cook (also a fellow at DJCAD and established international curator of new media art). The programme was opened out to include the exhibition Coded After Lovelace, curated by Nora O’Murchu and Faith Holland, for the HMC and a mini symposium on research in the production, collection and preservation of media art.
The seventh edition in 2015 was on the theme of Experimental Asia and featured new work by well-known Japanese artist Ei Wada, with support from an Alt-w award. NEoN took the theme North East of North Asia and explored digital works from across Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. The Festival invited viewers to examine the origin and understanding of digital arts practice in Asia, against the backdrop of our assumptions about its cultural motifs or traditions. Seol based artist Ah-Bin Shim was commissioned to create new works that developed her You and I series. Ah-Bin Shims work explored conflict, both conceptually and in its materiality. Hong Kong artist Eric Siu conceived a tactile camera known as Touchy. The touch driven device was an interactive technological piece which served as an actualized phenomenological social interaction experiment.
The latest installation of the festival, NEoN 2016 brought a new media and digital art perspective to Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, by considering these real and virtual environments. International artists explored and responded to the festival theme and considered alternative uses and futures for ‘The Spaces We’re In’, both virtually and materially. Dundee has always been a city in transition, and the digital media sector continued to be an important part of that reinvention.