L.E.V. festival 2013

This year I attended the L.E.V. Festival for the first time. In this article I will share with you what my impressions were and which performances I liked the most.

Published: May 08, 2013

By Naiara Valdano (@art_gossips), Art Gosspis

The Laboratorio de Electrónica Visual [Visual Electronic Laboratory], better known as L.E.V. (1), is a festival which has been taking place every year in the Asturian city of Gijón since 2007. During the few (but intense) years of its existence, it has aimed to highlight to the public the importance of electronic music and visual arts in the current panorama, as well as show the continuous evolution of the audiovisual sector.

Just this weekend, the festival celebrated its seventh edition. Over two days (Friday and Saturday), the L.E.V. team temporarily occupied the Jardín Botánico Atlántico [Gijón’s Atlantic Botanical Gardens] and different spaces at the Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura [Laboral City of Culture], including the theatre, church, art centre and even the cafeteria. Many of these locations “seemed to have come straight out of a novel by Poe himself”, as Abraham de Vicente aptly described them some time ago (2). But beyond literary comparisons, they seem to be the ideal places for a festival of this calibre: warm, spacious and electric.

Sadly, I couldn’t attend any of the activities programmed for Friday due to reasons which kept me tied to Madrid, but first thing in the morning on Saturday, I caught a train headed for Gijón. The journey passed by quickly despite lasting around five hours: I was impatient and full of curiosity about what I was going to find. I have never been a great fan of electronic music and, although I had heard about the festival, I hadn´t been to any of the other editions.... Many of the articles I read before the trip referred to the live performances by established artists or young talents whose names I had barely heard of before, such as Oneohtrix Point Never, Tim Hecker, Andy Stoot,  Kid606, Jon Hopkins + Dan Tombs, EvianChrist, Santiago Latorre and Futuregold, among others. Yet in spite of my inexperience, the event really impressed me and I absolutely enjoyed it.

Among the performances I saw, I would highlight first of all Emptyset, a duo formed in 2005 by James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas. This pair, based in Bristol (United Kingdom), visited Gijón with part of their recording studio and accompanied by the visual artist Joanie Lemercier, who they have been collaborating with for a long time:

We’ve known Joanie for years, and when MUTEK approached us about a performance for their 2011 edition we discovered that Joanie would be out there supporting ANTIVJ’s project with Murcof. We sent him footage we had shot and he turned up a few hours before the gig  (...). Over the last year we have continued the collaboration and we’re very happy with how it has developed.” (3)

Their work stands out for various reasons: firstly, they explore the frontier between techno, sound-art and noise music and, secondly, they play with the influence of space and technology on sound. All of this is blended in their performance at L.E.V. and made it possible to enjoy a unique music experience which received great reviews.

opiniones twitter

In addition to this, I would also like to highlight the show by Clark, one of the most well-known artists nowadays (4). On Saturday morning, he took part in one of the workshops organised by the Red Bull Music Academy and for a few minutes he explained to the public its origins, ideas, motivations and work methods. Additionally, he was the one who in the late hours of the festival’s closing time ended the event with a beautiful session in which he presented the different textures, sounds and colours of his music.

There was also another group that I had already heard about before the festival and which I wanted to put a face to. They are an experimental visual creation collective called THR3HOLD who formed in Gijón in November 2008. Since then they have produced many works related to new aesthetic expressions: they started making small video creation pieces and producing works which linked video images and music experiences in addition to creating sound, light and geometric installations. Currently, they continue collaborating with sound musicians and artists but have also taken an interest in developing large-scale projects related to urban and architectural interventions (5).

Being one of the few Asturian groups at the festival, I didn´t want to miss the opportunity of having a short interview with them and they were kind enough to collaborate. Here you have the questionnaire that I gave to them…. Enjoy!

foto thr3hold

To start with and to have some context, tell us a little about who you are and where you come from.

We are Rodolfo and María and we come from very different backgrounds: Rodolfo is technically trained in the field of technology and María is a designer. The essence of the proposals by THR3HOLD arises from this balance between creativity and technology.

When and why did you decide to work together and create THR3HOLD?

We met by chance at the 2008 edition of the OPTICA video art festival while working as production collaborators. We had common interests (music, video, art…) and the idea of actively getting involved in the world of experimental creation naturally came up.

I´m very curious about the name you chose. What does THR3HOLD mean and where does the term come from?

At first we were three members and Threshold was a filter we often used in the first software we were experimenting with. When we had the date set for our first live performance we still didn´t have our artistic name and it came up during the rehearsal.

You are very much interested in linking music and images… Why this interest in exploring (and linking) both elements?

We believe in the emotional potential of video when it isn’t used solely as a tool. The emotions produced by a good interrelation between video and music can turn the experience at a concert into something much more intense and rich in layers.

Since you have just taken part in L.E.V., we would like to know how your experience was of this event.  What has it meant for you to participate in a festival as well known as this?

We have had the opportunity to take part in various international festivals and it is always a very enriching experience: contact with other artists, with the public... L.E.V. is a benchmark event at a European level and a cornerstone of the Asturian creation scene. To be part of the programme (as was the case in 2011) is an honour and, at the same time, a challenge since it gives us the chance to work with other first-rate artists on the electronic music scene.

You yourselves have organised another festival called Trendelenburg. Why did you decide to create this project?

Trendelenburg isn’t a typical festival: through it we are looking to create synergies and exchanges between the artists who visit us, the public, and public spaces that we reinterpret for the occasion.

As part of our interest in finding out about cutting-edge audiovisual projects in different European cities, we realised the huge potential of projects being carried out in Asturias which have no cover due to our lack of diffusion. Trendelenburg was created with a view to establishing the necessary ties with well known artists in European experimental audiovisual art with the local scene and emerging artists of great potential.  Additionally, we set out to demystify avant-garde art and bring it closer to the curious public that might feel alien to these proposals.

Changing the subject, since you are from Gijón, we would like to know what your opinion is on the artistic panorama in this city and, in general, in this country.

There are very interesting projects in different fields in Asturias, but unfortunately they don´t receive the circulation they deserve. In the area of experimental electronic music, Gijón is a hot spot in Spain… perhaps the most interesting in relation to the number of inhabitants and the connections that exist with artists from cities which are theoretically more culturally powerful at a cultural level, such as Madrid or Barcelona. Proof of this can be seen in LEV which, in our opinion, is one of the not-to-be-missed events of the year for creators in these fields.

Also, we would like to know your opinion on the relationship between art and new technologies. What do you think artists can gain from these new techniques?

New technologies have opened up new opportunities in all fields of creation: not only should be they seen as tools which have revolutionised work processes, but also as having generated new aesthetic lines. Art centres like LABoral show and foster this link as a reflection of contemporary creation.

For us it is almost impossible to work detached from new technologies - they form part of our creative process. We also try to create emotions through them and get people to think differently or to perceive reality in different ways.

To wrap up, can you quickly answer the following questions?

An artist: CarstenNicolai.

A song: Theskywaspink.

An art centre or museum: LABoral Centro de Arte.

A project you would like to do: mapping the monument, Elogio del Horizonte [Eulogy of the Horizon].


(1)   The name of this event pays homage to the Russian, Lev Serguéyevich Termén. Known in the West as Lev Theremin, he was the inventor of an instrument called Theremin. By clicking on this link, you can see a related interesting video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5qf9O6c20o

(2)   Article by Abraham de Vicente called “Laboratorio de Electrónica Visual L.E.V. 2012” published in Are Ezine on 8 May 2012. Available at http://www.are-ezine.com/lev-festival-2012-2/

(3)  Interview by Jed Bollinger published in the magazine Fact on 2 October 2012. Available athttp://www.factmag.com/2012/10/02/theres-a-vast-territory-still-to-be-explored-five-minutes-with-emptyset/

(4)   Further information about Clark is available on the following link:http://levfestival.com/13/programacion/clark/

(5)   Further information at http://www.laboralcentrodearte.org/es/recursos/personas/thr3hold?set_language=es

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