Moogfest 2016: the synthesis of future music, technology, and art

Themes: Afrofuturism, Art and Artificial Intelligence, Hacking Sound (Systems), Instrument Innovators, Radio & the Radiophonic, Technoshamanism, Transhumanism
May 13, 2016

Moogfest 2016, a four-day, mind-expanding festival on the synthesis of technology, art, and music, will happen this coming week (Thursday, May 19 to Sunday, May 22) near Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, with more than 300 musical performances, workshops, conversations, masterclasses, film screenings, live scores, sound installations, multiple interactive art experiences, and “The Future of Creativity” keynotes by visionary futurist Martine Rothblatt, PhD. and virtual reality pioneer and author Jaron Lanier.

Cyborg activist Neil Harbisson is the first person in the world with an antenna implanted in his skull, allowing him to hear the frequencies of colors (including infrared and ultraviolet) via bone conduction and receive phone calls. (credit: N. Harbisson)

By day, Moogfest unfolds in venues throughout downtown Durham in spaces that range from intimate galleries and experimental art installations to grand theaters as a platform for geeky exploration and experimentation in sessions and workshops, featuring more than 250 innovators in music, art, and technology, including avant-garde pioneers such as cyborg Neil Harbisson, technoshaman paleo-ecologist/multimedia performer Michael Garfield on “Technoshamanism: A Very Psychedelic Century,” sonifying plants with Data Garden, the Google Magenta (Deep Dream Generator) on training neural networks to generate music, Onyx Ashanti showing how to program music with your mind, Google Doodle’s Ryan Germick, and cyborg artist Moon Ribas, whose cybernetic implants in her arms perceive the movement of real-time earthquakes.

Modular Marketplace 2014 (credit: PatrickPKPR)

Among the fun experimental venues will be the musical Rube Goldberg  workshop, the Global Synthesizer Project (an interactive electronic musical instrument installation where users can synthesize environmental sounds from around the world), THETA (a guided meditation virtual reality spa), WiFi Whisperer (an art installation that visually displays signals around us), the Musical Playground, and Modular Marketplace, an interactive exhibition showcasing the latest and greatest from a lineup of Moog Music and other innovative instrument makers and where the public can engage with new musical devices and their designers; free and open to the public, at the American Tobacco Campus at 318 Blackwell Street from 10am–6pm from May 19–22.


INSTRUMENT 1 from Artiphon will make its public debut at Moogfest 2016. It allows users of any skill or style to strum a guitar, tap a piano, bow a violin, or loop a drum beat — all on a single interface. By connecting to iOS devices, Macs and PCs, this portable musical tool can make any sound imaginable.

In addition, noted MIT Media Lab opera composer/inventor Tod Machover will demonstrate his Hyperinstruments, responsive stage technologies that go beyond multimedia, large-scale collaborative systems and enable entire cities to create symphonies together, and musical tools that promote wellbeing, diagnose disease, and allow for customizing compositions.

Music of the future

By night, Moogfest will present cutting-edge music in venues throughout the city. Performing artists include pioneers in electronic music like Laurie Anderson and legendary synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani, alongside pop and avant-garde experimentalists of today, including Grimes, Explosions in the Sky, Oneohtrix Point Never, Alessandro Cortini, Daniel Lanois, Tim Hecker, Arthur Russell Instrumentals, Rival Consoles, and Dawn of Midi.

Durham’s historic Armory is transformed into a dark and body-thumping dance club to host the best of electronica, house, disco and techno. Godfathers of the genre include The Orb, DJ Harvey, and Robert Hood alongside inspiring new acts such as Bicep (debuting their live show), The Black Madonna and a Ryan Hemsworth curated night including Jlin, Qrion and UVBoi.

“The liberation of LGBTQ+ people is wired into the original components of electronic music culture…” — Artists’ statement here

Local favorite Pinhook features a wide range of experimental sounds: heavy techno from Kyle Hall, Paula Temple and Karen Gwyer, live experimentation from Via App, Patricia, M. Geddes Gengras and Julia Holter, jaggedly rhythmic futurists Rabit and Lotic, and the avante-garde doom metal of The Body.

Moogfest’s largest venue, Motorco Park, is a mix of future-forward electro-pop and R&B with performances by ODESZA, Blood Orange, critically- acclaimed emerging artist DAWN (Dawn Richard) playing her first NC show, he kickoff of Miike Snow’s U.S. Tour, Gary Numan, Silver Apples, Mykki Blanco and newly announced The Range as well as a distinguished hip hop lineup that includes GZA, Skepta, Torey Lanez, Daye Jack, Denzel Curry, Lunice and local artists King Mez, Professor Toon and Well$.

Full Schedule: https://moogfest.sched.org

Robert Moog (credit: Moogarchives.com)

Since 2004, Moogfest has brought together artists, futurist thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, scientists, and musicians. Moogfest is a tribute to Dr. Robert “Bob” Moog and the profound influence his inventions have had on how we hear the world. Over the last sixty years, Bob Moog and Moog Music have pioneered the analog synthesizer and other technology tools for artists. He was vice president for new product research at Kurzweil Music Systems from 1984 to 1988.