Last night today: Night 1 of (sub)Urban Projections

The digital and performance arts festival (sub)Urban Projections kicked off last night in the Hult Center lobby to a full, buzzing house. The fantastic event was even more packed than last year. The lobby was also pretty dark, making it feel like the most badass sleepover ever: People were sitting on the floor, leaning over the staircases and milling around the bar and pop-up lounge watching dance acts, spoken word and different video and 3D projection mapping on the multifaceted walls.

A couple pieces had the audience completely rapt. One was a two-person spoken word dance piece by UO dancers Katie Sherman and Alyssa Puleo called “Assez” (French for “Enough”). Their movements were at once graceful and fluid, jarring and anxiety-ridden. Another piece featured one of the dancers of Quixotic Fusion performing infront of a screen with interactive projection. It was, in a word, spellbinding. (See video below — sorry for vertical framing.)

Perhaps the most fun interactive piece was the projection art — “Trails” by Benjamin Geck, Clara Munro and Zachary Dekker — happening in the second floor hallway near the restrooms. It felt like painting with light, a peak into what the future of digital and interactive art holds.

The festival did run into some of the same problems it did last year, mostly visibility and overcrowding. Some of the acts on the higher levels were nearly impossible to see unless you were on a higher staircase. And the large crowd just didn’t flow quite enough to see all the parts of this multi-layer and level event.

Bob Keefer of Eugene Art Talk writes:
“What was missing, for me and a couple other cranky old folks I talked to, was any overall scheme. I wanted something big and bright. What I got instead resembled a booking convention, with small acts competing against one another on small stages, most of which you couldn’t get to even if you tried.
There was no overall presence, nothing that tried to fill that big, beautiful and intriguing space.”

I do agree that last year’s event seems to have made better use of the vertical real estate in the lobby. The show could have used more of a focal point, but I also appreciated the broken-up competing acts. It almost felt like walking through the alleys of some big-city arts district at night. You never knew what you were going to find around the corner. And no one can argue this: There was some major local and national talent in that lobby.

Harmonic Laboratory has some major arts chops and I’m excited what to see what they’ll do next. Quixotic Fusion performs the world premiere of their show “Gravity of Center” tonight at the Hult.