DigiPen adjunct faculty member Kamal Siegel wants you to engage with the arts like you never have before.
As founder of the Digital Art Festival, now celebrating its fourth event since 2008, Siegel has welcomed artists and art lovers of all ages to Redmond to witness and experience the fusion of technology and creative expression. This year's event, which runs Sept. 21-28 at DigiPen's campus, will feature talks, demonstrations, and performances from artists across several media, including games, animation, illustration, music, dance, and more.
Kicking off the Festival on Friday evening, the opening event will showcase a juried exhibition (jurors include DigiPen graduates Realm Lovejoy from Valve; Jeremy Ernst from Epic Games; and Pat Jandro from Bungie) and awards presentation featuring the work of local digital artists. The evening also will include a keynote presentation by renowned Disney artist Andreas Deja, who was the supervising animator responsible for bringing to life such memorable villains as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin's Jafar, and The Lion King's Scar. Various sessions continue all weekend at DigiPen, with other events taking part throughout the week at SoulFood Books in Redmond.
Siegel says the Digital Art Festival came about during his tenure on the Redmond Arts Commission, a nine-member advisory council appointed by the city's mayor. As the owner and Chief Executive Artist at Digital Double, a Redmond-based studio specializing in 2D and 3D digital art production, Siegel saw an opportunity to take the city's reputation for software innovation into new territory: a festival to showcase works using new media.
"It not only creates a space for artists to come together and connect and exchange ideas," Siegel says. "It gives them an opportunity to face the audience and shine their light."
Siegel recalls a previous festival performance on which he collaborated, titled "Dancing with Light."
"There was a dancer who did a choreography using motion capture, and her avatar was projecting next to her as she danced along with it," Siegel says. "[A teenage boy] came up to me to express his gratitude and say how much he liked the piece. And so I asked him, 'Have you ever seen a dance performance before?' And he said, no, he never had."
For Siegel, it was a powerful moment of realization.
"When you start to mix these disciplines, you really start to broaden the audience," he says. "And something like modern dance, which may not be appealing to a 13-year-old, all of a sudden is."
Whereas the city of Redmond sponsored the first three years of the event, this year's festivities will be independently funded, primarily through ticket sales. Attendees can purchase either single-day or full-access passes, either online (for a discount) or at the event itself. Discounted tickets are available for ages 12-18; children 11 or under can attend for free.
"You're bound to see something new. You're bound to learn from the experts. And you're bound to get inspired," Siegel says. "I think those are three really good motivators for coming."
DigiPen Europe-Bilbao is hosting an Open House on Dec. 15. Visit the campus and learn how DigiPen's degree programs prepare students to create award-winning games and animations.
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