MediaLab 2019: Hello World & lots of Feelz

Read curator Ward Janssen's blog about this year's festival theme and MediaLab topics.

The MediaLab 2019 revolves around emotions, emotional technology that touches you, deep in your heart. Because with so much tech splendor you sometimes forget that, despite all the innovations of our time, media technology is ultimately about how we look at the world, how we communicate together, how we live together in not only the real world but also the digital world; and it is no longer 'fake' or 'virtual', but just as real and relevant as the world you enter when you walk out your front door. In 2019 Cinekid is all about that world one may enter through media, with the central festival theme Hello World. A world to explore, to introduce yourself to, to see as a beautiful mosaic splendor of stories told through media about the many worlds we find within and just outside our own, parallel visions of the world and our place in it. When we see the world through media I’d hope it makes our audience take in the introspective qualities media can stir within us, shows how to feel, through understanding other peoples’ stories how solidarity is the logical social next step of understanding differences. And that is an emotional step.

So emotional media, for emotional people. Ready to see the world and say, cheerfully, hello to it. Or shrug at it, whichever you choose. I feel feelings is a statement on the internet, young people who are surprised that they feel something in their time of irony, so feelings. Or rather feelz, the ultimate ironic shortening of the most normal thing in life, in digital slang so that you can type it a little faster.

In the MediaLab we are all around feelz in 2019. We have new projects from artists Melanie Bonajo, Abner Preis and Studio Pointer, commissioned by Cinekid especially for the MediaLab. In a new video installation, Bonajo shows us how, since we are only ever behind our iPads and YouTube playlists, we completely forget what touch is, dull it digitally. We have to come up with a new therapy for this, together with children.

In Virtual Reality, Abner Preis takes us on a fairy tale journey to the beginning of media history: old computer interfaces, Pac-Man as a classic game hero; roaming the media past as an archaeologist of our time.
And Studio Pointer experiments with animal GIFs, animations of animals from our media world that live together in large landscapes, mate, reproduce, sometimes compete with each other, but above all always live together in a digital biotope. And the MediaLab audience can, like a god, intervene and raise the animals into a new social society.

For the rest of the programme, we look around the world at what is going on at the forefront of media. What is remarkable, exciting, unexpected and totally new in style or visual approach? What really shows the character of the maker, or a unique vision on our time in which media technology increasingly resembles each other? Because in the MediaLab you naturally have to find a new world of media, the parallel world next to your mobile phone, next to your own media menu, the unique opportunities in the stream of images that bombard you as a child, a young person, every day, always. We all know from an early age that there is a whole world in the digital world up for grabs, that we can watch, share, make and experiment with a variety of digital tricks, experiments and novelties. In the MediaLab, we prefer to show the work of the media underdog, the artist or designer with his own interpretation of the media world, who is in the middle of the open source community, with knowledge of code, and love for the medium as material domain in and of itself, shaping the digital world to his or her point of view. That can be small, that can be large, that can be huge and compelling, but most of all possibly with a little feeling? Feelz?

- Ward Janssen, Head of Digital Culture