A live music festival that makes digital, multimedia and light art a vital component of the event is something of a rarity in the United States, but a music and visual art festival produced in the dead of winter, well that’s uniquely Houston. After a successful debut last year, Day for Night. the three-day music and art event presented by Free Press Houston and New York-based creative firm Work-Order, makes a venue move to the Post HTX space to light up downtown Houston this weekend.
With four stages and every hour from afternoon until dead of night filled with music, you might be tempted to spend the weekend running from one favorite musician or band to to the next. But on your way from stage to stage, don’t forget to feed your eyes. Day for Night offers some of the top national and international artists working and creating at that blurry, but often beautiful edge, where technology and traditional visual art meet. Curated by Day For Night co-founder Alex Czetwertynski, this impressive offering, which they’re calling the Light lineup, should not be bypassed on your way to that favorite band. Take time out to wander upstairs where many of the installations and immersive art experience are located.
Don’t know where to begin your art journey? Here’s a quick don’t-miss list to map your way through some of the art highlights.
Just one installation from the international renowned musician, visual artist and occasional fashion icon would never be enough; instead, as both a sound and light headliner at Day for Night, Björk brings with her an entire exhibition. This five gallery exhibition will feature immersive digital and video work that fest-goers can experience in virtuality. Yes, you’ll strap on the sci-fi, VR headset to go into Björk’s weird and wonderful worlds. The rooms will include the MOMA commissioned Black Lake and its views of the highlands of Björk’s native Iceland and Mouthmantra VR which takes you inside Björk’s mouth as she sings. Björk will also perform live DJ sets at the Friday night preview party as well as on Sunday.
Musica Universalis by United Visual Artists (UVA)
For your pre-fest homework brush up on Pythagoras’s theories on harmonics because, appropriately enough for an art and music festival, United Visual Arts invites viewers and listeners to explore the music of the spheres. The internationally influential London-based art practice combines kinetic sculpture, music, light and color in their latest work as UVA delves into resonance and harmony in the universe.
SHIRO by NONOTAK
Last year, NONOTAK’s massive light, sound and scaffolding installation Volume was the art hit of Day for Night and garnered the duo many local fans. So, of course, fest programmers brought the Paris-based team of illustrator Noemi Schipfer and architect and musician Takami Nakamoto back to wow crowds again with a site specific version of their work SHIRO, which becomes both an installation and a stage for live audiovisual performances. They’ll also debut the brand new work created for Day for Night, Highline.
Crimson Lotus by Damien Echols
Painter and sculptor Echols is also the best-selling author of the memoir Life After Death which chronicled his early life and then 18 years on death row after being wrongly convicted for murder as one of the West Memphis Three. Echols’s spiritual Magick practices sustained this innocent man awaiting his execution, and now Magick has become a focus of his art. Early word on Crimson Lotus is that the installation will be a collaboration with art curator Alex Czertwertynski who will create a sigil light room based on Echols images that will also become an immersive space for live performances from Echols.
Ghostbeast by Shoplifter
Björk won’t be the only Icelandic artist bringing quirky installations to the festival. Take a break from light, video and digital art to visit Shoplifter’s caged sculptural beast. The artist, who works in human hair as well as other natural fibers, creates playful and humorous sculptures. Step up and give her Ghostbeast a sonic treat. The interactive hair creature growing in a large cage feeds on sounds.
Head outside into the winter air – which will probably be warm and humid, knowing Houston – for some outdoor art and sample the work of one pioneer of digital and computational art, Golan Levin, and one very young and rising artist in the field, Ezra Miller. Viewers of Levin’s Ghost Pole Propagator become the artwork as their images are transformed into stick figures and then projected onto an 180-foot wall opposite the Day for Night food court. Meanwhile around the corner, near the Red Stage area, 20-year-old Ezra Miller’s Warp Transmission interacts with the music artists and bands on the main stage by combining a live video feed of the performance with his own visuals.
The Venue Formally Known as the Barbara Jordon Post Office
Once upon a time, people used to send these objects of communication called letters at an office of posting. In downtown Houston that letter relay station was the massive Barbara Jordan Post Office. Built in the early '60s, the five-story building sitting on 16 acres of land holds lots of raw, industrial and perhaps even eerie space most Houstonians probably never really thought about during those begone days when they stopped to mail a package or buy a stamp. Day for Night 2016 gives us a back (postal) stage look at the facility and allows us to see it transformed by light and sound.
How much will this venue add to the Day for Night experience? Well, during a recent conversation I had with one of the Day for Night music artists, Houston’s own Fat Tony, we discussed his preparation for the festival and his own excited reaction to getting an early look and feel for the venue.
“We did a run through to check it out, and it was really scary,” Fat Tony described. “It looks like a great place to film a horror movie. It’s dark, squeaking and creaking. It’s definitely haunted, I’m sure.”