I launched VIA with my collaborators in 2010 with the help of a Sprout Seed Award, a Pittsburgh grant supporting projects that are “innovative, non-traditional ideas that focus on current issues and challenges faced by the community, and inspire a diverse group of participants to be more active, involved, and civically-engaged.”
With co-founder Quinn Leonowicz, Pittsburgh promoters Matthew McDermott, Aaron Clark, Paul Fleetwood, and Edgar Um Bucholtz, we set forth to design a platform that explored the intersection between emerging music, new media art, and technology with artists from home and around the world. VIA was Pittsburgh's first audio-visual festival, and one that would forecast artists and trends to later be seen on much larger stages.
A "festival as laboratory" VIA aimed to be unique on the local & international landscape in a few ways. First, prioritizing an approach to curating "live visuals" as integrated aspects of performance where visual artists would headline the way musicians do; encourage artists - whether new or established - to use the festival as an opportunity to prototype or premiere new works, as well as address political and societal concerns through their work; and where the use of atypical sites could act as poetic and critical frameworks for experiencing these artists, as well as a roadmap to explore the city of Pittsburgh outside mainstream venues. The purpose of VIA was to continually expand our ear to the sonic frontiers and intersections of electronic arts; while actively questioning what a festival could be.
There would be no set template for each year's shape, form, and content other than the goal to feel that Pittsburgh and an evolving intersection of local/international creatives scenes were being explored anew.
VIA 2010 took over the 3rd largest film soundstage in the US (31st Street Movie Studios) as its flagship venue. A veteran's social club, and Carnegie Mellon University School of Art and Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry hosted a lively range of lectures and demos spanning circuit bending to twerking with Oneohtrix Point Never, Nate Boyce, Kyle McDonald, Michael Johnsen, and Big Freedia.
Featured Pop-up: 31st Street Movie Studios, Strip District, Pgh PA
Venues: 31st Street Movie Studios, Carnegie Mellon University School of Art & Frank-Raytche STUDIO for Creative Inquiry,, Lawrenceville Moose Lodge