Black Box

Black Box, Amplified


Dear Friends, Collaborators, Supporters & Colleagues,

I’m thrilled to announce an amplified commitment to the vision of Black Box in 2016! 

This year, the festival will incorporate a broader conceptual framework, energetic partner program format, and expanded online project site.

Aligned closely with Aktionsart’s mission, Black Box is designed to remain in permanent beta mode. The festival is responsive and adaptive to the transitory nature of emerging technologies and the shifting landscape of contemporary art. Each year, the festival format evolves through the continuous development of institutional, curatorial and corporate partnerships.

The core changes outlined below are a direct result of audience and participant feedback from past festivals, collectively illustrating an urgent community demand for substantial arts and technology programming.


You asked us to move the dates and we listened! The new festival is shorter, tighter, and will take place in the fall. 

Black Box 3.0: September 21 - October 2, 2016

Conceptual Framework

Black Box explores how digital media and emerging technologies are transforming the arts, culture, and public life. Since 2014, the festival has been situated within the Seattle International Film Festival and focused on contemporary artists who expand the language of cinema.

Due to thriving community demand for arts and technology programming, the festival is expanding beyond the previous emphasis on film and cinema. This context has proved to be an unnecessary restraint.

Black Box is now simply an international arts and technology festival.

This new framework presents extraordinary opportunities to support projects that move across a myriad of disciplines. The festival will continue to present film and video work, but will incorporate a more diverse slate of programs that seamlessly integrate visual art, media, music, sound, performance, architecture, design, fashion, and more.

There is no overarching festival theme beyond the umbrella of “arts and technology”, which is intentionally open. Key concepts will emerge from the open call and unfold through festival and partner programs, exhibitions, screenings, projects, discussions, workshops, installations, performances, and hybrid formats. Attention will be closely paid to intellectually rigorous and socially urgent ideas, emerging technologies, and experimental projects that present new modes of creating and thinking. Black Box is a place for creative and critical ideas.

Technology disrupts the arts, but how do the arts disrupt technology? What is the role of artist and creator in an increasingly mechanized world? How can artists leverage new tools to produce, distribute, create access, and build audiences for their work? How does technological innovation and disnovation shape public life?

Partner Program

Black Box will continue to closely collaborate with a selective partner network of Seattle’s most adventurous businesses, organizations, and institutions.

For the first time, Black Box is initiating an open call for artists, projects, venues, and partner programs. There is abundant creative energy brewing below the surface of Seattle, and I expect that this open call will release untapped talent, resources, and opportunity.

Online Project Site

Last year, the Black Box online program - Fullscreen - presented new video and digital art, streaming content, mobile, and interactive projects. The site received over 25,000 visits in just a four week period. This program will continue to develop in 2016, transporting the festival to audiences around the world.

I founded Black Box with the intention of building an international platform for new work and ideas from the most creative, talented and innovative artists, designers, engineers, curators, technologists, hackers, and makers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Already an indispensable element of Seattle’s ecosystem, Black Box continues to be a vital barometer for our burgeoning arts and tech environment. 

The rippling effects of Aktionsart and Black Box throughout the community are markedly visible. Thanks to our invaluable partners, volunteers and advocates for your support over the past two years! I greatly look forward to seeing what transpires at Black Box 3.0.

The open call for artists, venues, and partner program proposals is now live. Review the opportunities and guidelines to determine which application is most appropriate for your participation, then be sure to submit it by 5PM PST on May 31, 2016:


Julia Fryett
Founder, Aktionsart

Aktionsart Artists at Sundance 2016

Congratulations to Lucy Walker, Jonathan Monaghan and Kalup Linzy on their inclusion in the Sundance 2016 New Frontier program! Aktionsart had the enormous pleasure of working with these off-the-chart talents for Black Box 2.0 (Monaghan, Linzy) and Amfest Moscow (Walker).

If you haven't yet seen THE LION'S MOUTH OPENS (Walker), we can't recommend enough that you catch it on HBO. Walker's first foray into virtual reality, A HISTORY OF CUBAN DANCE, premieres this week at Sundance.

Presented at Black Box 2.0, ESCAPE POD (Monaghan), is also showing at Sundance and was highlighted by The Telegraph as their favorite installation in New Frontier

Linzy, who premiered three new works at Black Box 2.0, brings his multi-platform melodrama QUEEN ROSE FAMILY (DA STORIES) to Sundance.

Lucy Walker

A History of Cuban Dance

Still from A HISTORY OF CUBAN DANCE (2016).

Organic, spontaneous, sexy dances progress chronologically through Afro-Cuban Santería rumba, mambo, cha-cha-chá, salsa, breakdancing, and reggaeton, with optional audio tracks reflecting the broader story of Cuban history as revealed in the moves. Palpable and transporting, this live-action virtual reality documentary was filmed on location in Cuba and features Ballet de la Televisión Cubana.

More Info

Kalup Linzy

Queen Rose Family (Da Stories)


Kalup Linzy (Sweet, Sampled, and Left Ova, 2010 Sundance Film Festival) returns to the Festival, bringing this outrageously campy, multi-platform world where tragedy strikes the Queen Rose family. Conversations Wit De Churen X: One Life To Heal and Conversations Wit De Churen IX XI XII: Dayz of Our Egochronicle the story of Taiwan Braswell’s disappearance. Amidst the musings and melodrama saturating all reaches of his family tree, Taiwan performs his signature tune "Asshole" from beyond the human dimension (manifested via the Pepper’s ghost installation). This mash-up of fine art, music video, and trashy daytime soap opera features an ensemble cast including Tunde Adebimpe and Michael Stipe.

More Info

Jonathan Monaghan

Escape Pod

Still from ESCAPE POD.

This seamlessly looped 20-minute computer-animated film invites you to join a golden deer as it traverses glossy, surreal environments of wealth, power, and authority. Composed of one continuous tracking shot, this visually fantastic journey imagines a new reality devoid of human bodies, left only with material desires and ambitions of power.

More Info

Now Streaming: Phil Collins’ New Musical Collaboration

my heart’s in my hand, and my hand is pierced, and my hand’s in the bag, and the bag is shut, and my heart is caught

Black Box 2.0 artist Phil Collins has just released a new musical collaboration, streaming on Soundcloud. This project was previously installed at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, in 2013 (images below):

Installation view, In Every Dream Home a Heartache, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2013.
Photos: Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf. 

Sound installation and collaborative project with GULLIVER survival station for the homeless Cologne. Ten 7" vinyls, listening booths, turntables, amplifiers, speakers; dimensions variable.

From Shady Lane Productions:

In 2013, Phil Collins collaborated with guests of GULLIVER survival station for the homeless, located under the railway arches at Cologne’s central station, where he installed a phone booth with a free line which anyone could use for unlimited local and international calls, on the agreement that the conversations would be recorded and anonymised. Selected from more than a thousand calls made over a four-week period, the material was posted to a group of musicians, serving as the starting point for original new songs. These were pressed as 7" vinyl records and presented in an exhibition at Museum Ludwig in specially designed listening booths, each equipped with a turntable and high-quality sound system, installed so as to overlook a busy public square and the railway bridge. After the installation in Cologne, the work was presented in adapted configurations in New York and Berlin. 

Contributors include some of Collins’ personal heroes (Scritti Politti, David Sylvian, Lætitia Sadier, Damon & Naomi), trailblazing experimental and alternative acts (Demdike Stare, Planningtorock, Maria Minerva, Pye Corner Audio, Heroin In Tahiti, Peaking Lights), Cologne musicians of different generations (Elektronische Musik aus: Köln, Pluramon, Cologne Tape), and a special guest turn by the original German indie-superstar Julia Hummer.

Growing up in the North of England in the '70s and '80s, Collins always held a passionate belief in the transformative potential of popular culture. During this period pop music in particular was oftentimes explicitly political, rooted in everyday reality and vocal in its opposition to the government. At its most electrifying, it seemed capable of catalysing radical social movements, such as acid house and DIY rave culture, which Collins fell into in his student days in Manchester, where he worked for years at the legendary nightclub The Haçienda. Ever since pop music remains one of the mainstays of Collins’ diverse practice. From his early to his most recent works he has established close collaborations with a host of musicians and friends, including Welsh wizard and Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys, Marxist-pop revolutionary Lætitia Sadier, psych-folk rocket Cate Le Bon, and post-rock noisenik Barry Burns.

Shady Lane Productions (Berlin) and NERO (Rome) are now releasing a compilation documenting Collins’ Cologne project. Set in a silkscreened gatefold sleeve, it comes as a coloured double vinyl and a 36-page booklet with newly commissioned texts by Mark Fisher and Florian Schneider, selected transcripts from the original telephone recordings, as well as images from the GULLIVER survival station and the project’s various iterations. 

my heart’s in my hand, and my hand is pierced, and my hand’s in the bag, and the bag is shut, and my heart is caught - a new compilation album which gathers music, selected texts and visual materials from this eponymous project is now streaming online.


Black Box 2.0

Black Box 2.0

BLACK BOX is the first international festival in Seattle to showcase experimental film, video and new media art. It provides a global perspective on how contemporary artists use technology to push creative boundaries and expand the language of cinema. A program of significant scope, BLACK BOX transmits energetic ideas across industries - from film and music to design and technology.

View Post