The encounter between art and technology never ceases to amaze us with perpetual technological innovations and the artists’ willingness to establish connections between them, always looking for new forms of artistic expression. With new media art (video art, digital art, interactive art, virtual art etc.) the art and technology symbiosis has become increasingly organic and indispensable.
In Romania, the interest in the art-technology alliance has grown considerably in the last decade. However, a group of visionary artists from Timișoara, among which Levente Kozma and Alin Rotariu, has organised, since 2005, an annual festival dedicated to interdisciplinary arts, with an emphasis on digital art and sound experiments. Their aim was to support and promote young local artists and new forms of artistic expression, offering the public an impressive international dimension. Now in its 16th edition, Simultan has become a space for audio-visual performances, video art and experimental music, strengthening the connection between art and technology.
Simultan is not limited to an autumn week of exhibitions and performances. Throughout the year, numerous conferences, art workshops and cultural projects are organised. Among the most recent initiatives are Progress–Paradigm Shifts, a call for site-specific projects and interventions to explore Timisoara’s history and industrial heritage, held at the end of 2020, and Intonal Sounders Workshop (3-6 October 2019), where several artists worked with 11 children to create musical instruments from electrical circuits.
Although the festival introduces the novelties on the art scene, the space of the events has always contrasted with the high-performance technology used. Every edition of Simultan highlights a different heritage building or a space unexplored by the community, to return it to the cultural circuit of the city. The Garrison Command and the former public transport company workshops have turned into the new Multiplexity art and technology centre.
This year’s edition took place at the Multiplexity centre between 11 and 19 September, under the motto “Unstable State of Things”. The curatorial approach aimed to explore what the future might look like (if we can still imagine a future) against the background of last year’s crises and the many uncertainties in our lives. The Unstable State of Things exhibition is a careful examination of the human condition. Man has become extremely fragile and vulnerable, and learning to accept the unknown proves increasingly necessary. At the same time, the video works under the No Lockdown Art project, initiated by Transcultures and European Pepinieres of Creation and presented at the festival, provide a poetic perspective on the mutant world we live in.
The performative multimedia installation Affective Particles, by Sabina Suru and Irina Marinescu, on music composed by Alexandros Raptis, extends the significance of the concept of superposition, used in quantum physics to study particles, to the human body. The performance is a cognitive and sensory experiment, a dance of light that invites the viewers to make a close observation of the body’s responses to external stimuli. During the weekend evenings, artists like Thomas Ankersmit, Andrei Raicu and Peter Kutin gave experimental music concerts.
For the second consecutive year, the CoLaboratory programme was developed during the festival. Under this programme, German cultural centres in Romania and the Republic of Moldova offered digital artistic residencies to local artists who had the opportunity to collaborate and experiment with artists from Germany. This year’s theme of the project was Togetherness: How Much Distance Does Closeness Need? The 12 selected artists created video installations together.
One of the longest-lived digital art festivals in Romania, in 2021 Simultan received an award for interdisciplinary activity from the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. Over the years, this festival has represented a dynamic space for the organic encounter between art and technology, creating new connections and artistic paradigms.