In some ways, Supernova was built for this moment.
The digital animation festival, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this week, annually commandeers downtown Denver’s largest public video screens to showcase its pixel-driven visuals. Social distancing is no problem when viewers can pick any one of countless, open-air spots in a six-block radius to enjoy the sights.
Curated from hundreds of submissions, Supernova also has shored up its global list of the best, most groundbreaking names in an emerging art form that defies traditional gallery curation. No visits to Colorado required.
If you go
Supernova: “World on Fire.” Denver Digerati’s fifth annual digital art and animation festival in downtown Denver, including Night Lights Denver projections. Sept. 3-30 in the Denver Theatre District, 16th Street Mall and online at supernova.video. Free. Register for workshops at denverdigerati.org/workshops and see the full calendar of events at supernovadenver.com.
“Our commissions, in particular, are at a high level compared to when we started,” said Ivar Zeile, the longtime Plus Gallery owner who created Supernova and its nonprofit producer, Denver Digerati. “And the work coming from our emerging artists is just staggering. We’re also getting more air time than ever before, due to the lack of advertising on these massive LED screens. It’s an idealized view.”
That will certainly be true for viewers of the festival, who can enjoy 3-D mapped art on buildings, blocks of looped animation around the city, online workshops and other free programming as part of the event. The month-long schedule begins Sept. 3 with Night Lights Denver, where custom-made Supernova artist animations will take over the 16th Street Mall’s historic D&F Clocktower each day starting at 7 p.m.
Submissions for Supernova’s 2020 installment, themed “World on Fire,” are up 150% through its online platform, FilmFreeway. The juried, competitive festival plans to feature more than 150 official selections (there’s a $1,000 top prize, plus thousands more in smaller awards), entries from at least 27 countries (including a few locals), and new categories that embrace the evolving world of digital art, such as Indie Gaming and Gifathon.
On Sept. 19, Supernova will curate an open-air walking tour of its best digital and motion-art offerings on the Denver Theatre District’s network of LED screens — think Colorado’s version of Times Square, centered around the Denver Performing Arts Complex at 14th and Curtis streets. Some custom-made pieces span multiple screens.
The festival’s new streaming service, supernova.video, and its slick, free video app (via Apple Store, Google Play or smart-TV apps) is also looking to work around pandemic restrictions that have shuttered nearly every other arts and culture festival in the country. This year, Zielie also hopes to humanize the festival a bit more with pre-recorded artist introductions and live, virtual chats with participants.
But that brings up the fact that in many other ways — mostly having to do with financing — Supernova was not designed for this moment.
Zeile, who has been programming digital art in downtown Denver since 2009, had just secured nonprofit status for Denver Digerati when 2020 began, following an amicable but clean break from his founding sponsors in the Denver Theatre District.
“Everything was moving right along until the pandemic and initial lockdown,” he said. “We had some money committed and were trying to shore up sponsorships and seek new partners. We realized quickly that was going to be a challenge, but we had to keep going with planning and submissions without hesitation.”
Supernova’s usual budget of about $90,000 had to be slashed in half for this year, Zeile said, owing to the lack of financial support. A newly installed board, and new full-time positions for Denver Digerati, also turned into labors of love — as opposed to money-generating jobs — as the festival hung in the balance.
Fortunately, the festival’s reputation has allowed Supernova to hang on to some of the traction it’s gained. This year, the event is partnering with History Colorado to turn one of downtown’s massive LED screens into a clue for “The Lost Book of Astrid Lee,” an interactive, citywide scavenger hunt that dovetails nicely with Supernova’s similarly heads-up, hands-off approach.
RELATED: Mystery surrounds “Astrid Lee,” a new Denver-wide scavenger hunt from History Colorado
Despite losing partnerships with organizations such as the University of Colorado Denver and Denver Film, Supernova is forging ahead with new ones. The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design will launch its virtual art showcase through the festival on Sept. 18, the day before the festival streams live programming for its virtual opening.
The gaming platform Unity is joining for the first time with Supernova for virtual workshops (free and open to the public), artist panels and other programming that celebrates the rise of real-time gaming engines as tools for digital art and animation. Zeile encourages people who are interested to register now at denverdigerati.org/workshop, as he anticipates them filling up fast.
Zeile praises Night Lights Denver as “a huge piece of the puzzle,” allowing Supernova to expand from a weekend to four weeks of programming. Despite the challenges of the pandemic era, the festival was still able to commission several works for Night Lights, ensuring instant, widespread and daily exposure for the event.
“Foundations like Bonfils-Stanton came through in a big way,” Zeile added, while naming a laundry list of supporters for this year’s event. “Without them and other assistance, there’d be no way to do this, because it’s like having an 80-hour per week job and not getting paid for it.”
That said, the process of becoming a nonprofit has given Zeile a different, more nuanced perspective on the viability of his signature event. Optimism, even. Despite the global economic downturn, the crush of submissions and interest from the art world proves that Supernova has become one of the world’s best-known festivals for digital art and animation.
“If we do see a future, it’ll be a result of all that work we’ve managed to do up to this year,” Zeile said. “It’s a very positive, and very challenging, time to be putting on this festival.”
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.
Source: Read Full Article