Prepared Surroundings (PS) is an annual international festival of experimental sound and technology art that has taken place in Moscow since 2009. The festival is an informal homage to the artist and composer John Cage. This year’s edition of Prepared Surroundings has been organized with the support of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
Participants of the festival use prepared objects, environments, and constructs. Prepared Surroundings encourages the most unconventional ideas and techniques for sound production. Often participants design custom technologies, software, and hardware for their developments. The goal of the festival is to promote the development of experimental cross-disciplinary creative activities combining arts, sciences, technology, and music. Events of the main program are held on Wednesdays, accompanied by parallel education and night programs on the other days of the week. The project is initiated by the community of independent artists SoundArtist.ru.
The theme of the 2020 edition is Technology and the Truth.
How can we even be sure of anything when the once-unthinkable events change our perception of objective reality every day? Tracing the roots of the decomposition of the collective conscience will necessarily confront us with the notion of the truth. Just like it is old and trivial for the field of philosophy and humanities, the truth is out of the radar for art practitioners. Nevertheless, it is one of the most pertinent questions. How can we move forward when we cannot even agree on what is movement? In 2016, the term post-truth was chosen as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. By 2020, we have positively entered the era of the viral relativism. Experts cannot rely on their expertise; vouchers cannot vouch for anything.
What is to blame—our pragmatic understanding of the Western philosophy of the fluid nature of the digital media penetrating most of our lives? Sensitivity to contradiction, defining in a large part intelligence, was previously used to find the truth, but nowadays, it is mainly used to alter reality in any desired way. Just like technology easily turns the truth into a political instrument, technological art will easily transform the truth into a musical instrument. We seem to have learned to control reality by simply removing the requirement of the truth from sight. But without the truth, ontology disintegrates. The most non-banal thing to do today is to try to find the truth and make honest and genuine gestures.
Participants of the festival will be invited to reflect within a vast framework for interpreting contemporary phenomena:
- truth vs. post-truth
- fake vs. deep fake
- relativism vs. determinism
- artificial intelligence vs. natural emotions
- global data vs. death of the expertise
- synthesizer vs. interface
- pandemic vs. isolation
- conception vs. constitution
Just like most of the public events this year, the festival has to adapt to the trickster reality of the new normal. The main events of the festival—prepared performances by the Russian artists—will be presented as fixed media, a series of high-quality video documentations. We are intentionally avoiding streaming as it has become too banal during these months and is, in fact, just a reduced version of a live performance. At the same time, prepared shooting offers additional opportunities for creative expression. Besides, as an exclusively live arts festival, Prepared Surroundings has never paid attention to documenting its events. In this case, to prepare audio and video would be more honest and sincere.
Nevertheless, as part of our festival, we will present the very first Russian group exhibition of the German sound-art community Errant Sound, available from June 23, at the Moscow Sound Art Gallery SA))_gallery. Some of the events (including those with our international colleagues) scheduled for early June will take place during 2020 as part of the Unprepared Surrounding program.
The world changes, and so does our Festival.
The sole formula that has remained unchanged over these twelve years is: “Participants of the festival will present their works developed with prepared objects, environments, and constructs.”
Festival organized in collaboration with Vladimir Smirnov and Konstantin Sorokin Foundation.
Curator — Sergey Kasich
Сo-curator — Vitalina Strekalova