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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A festival of art

    When most people think of Coachella, the raucous concerts are usually what come to mind. However, in addition to the music, it’s also an arts festival, and between shows attendees often find themselves checking out Coachella’s unique sculptures and interactive displays.

    The art at this year’s festival ranged from the functional to the wildly abstract. Pieces included a Tesla coil, dynamic light sculptures and a “”Perpetual Art Machine.””

    Being an environmentally conscious festival, Coachella also featured a handful of art that promoted energy conservation. Interactive activities like the CycleCide Bike Rodeo, a pedal-powered carnival, gave festival-goers the chance to use their own energy to power rides.

    “”My favorite part (of the art) was probably all those different bikes,”” said Kalin Mowry, a sophomore majoring in economics and Spanish. “”It’s all man-powered – I went on one and thought it was really cool. I liked that festival this year was just a lot more enviro-friendly, with the bikes and like the recycling and Carpool-chella.””

    Another conservation minded exhibit was Stephano Corazzo’s “”Field of Sunflower Robots,”” a mass of illuminated metallic sunflowers with functioning solar panels. The piece used the sun during the day to supply power for the flowers to illuminate at night.

    Displays like the Fire-Pod, a claw-like series of propane cannons, also assisted in lighting up Coachella when the sun went down. Large bursts of flames from the sculpture were linked to a midi interface and shot fire into the air, timed with beats from the music.

    “”The fire bursts were really amazing,”” said studio art freshman Joey Poore. “”All the 3-D and interactive art was incredibly impressive.””

    The displays aren’t all bright lights and explosions though. Just ask the Megamites, an army of people costumed in giant neon balloon animal sea-creature outfits.

    Sean Butts, an art history and media arts senior, caught the Megamites Sunday night. “”They were toward the back of the crowd. I think it was during Rage Against the Machine. They were really incredible, actually very beautiful.””

    Sadly, their destruction was also beautiful, as the Rage Against the Machine crowd turned on the colorful balloon creatures.

    Said Poore: “”It was kinda cool, the crowd just started tearing them apart and passing them toward the front.””

    The highlight of the arts portion of the festival, however, could be found on the opposite side of the grounds in a small air-conditioned tent in the form of the Perpetual Art Machine.

    Said co-creator Aaron Miller: “”It’s a video porthole. We have around 1,200 videos supplied by our online community that users can control through a video interface. It’s democratizing for the artists as well as the viewer.””

    Installations like the Perpetual Art Machine help give Coachella a flavor lacking from other festivals.

    The art at Coachella isn’t refined or too artistically complex. Most pieces are strange and unique ideas that use size and flashiness rather than composition to draw viewers. The displays may not appeal to stuffy museum curators; however, they have a vibrancy and scope that can make even the most hardcore music fan stop in their tracks.

    Although the festival was more focused on music than art, the electronic atmosphere along with the lights, costumes and visual landscape gave Coachella a feel somewhere between Woodstock and Burning Man.

    One attendee summarized it as “”Disneyland for adults.”” Well, maybe adults with good taste in music.

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