Unsound is taking careful steps towards planning it’s next festival edition in physical spaces in Kraków, an event that this year will be far more compact and more local, yet which nevertheless raises the question of what it will feel like to gather in a room with other bodies to enjoy music again, as well as share thoughts and ideas in person.
The pandemic has left us isolated and atomised, yet also more virtually connected than ever. Relationships, money, art and governance are contained inside our laptops and on digital tokens. Social bubbles spawn speculative ones, and vice versa. As parts of the world begin to transition into a new phase, in which many are vaccinated, our year-plus-long immersion in virtual living is raising new questions. The theme of Unsound 2021, which takes place between October 13th and 17th, is dəəp authentic – a response to a hyperreal situation. dəəp authentic also refers to the gradual shift back from online to IRL events, a phrase that involves a questionable binary – for the online world is also ‘real’, and the IRL has long been digitised, distributed and mediated.
The word ‘deep’ evokes conflicting ideas. On the one hand, there is Pauline Oliveros’ notion of deep listening, where the selective act of listening is explored through meditation, the body and performance, as well as the act of listening in everyday life. But ‘deep’ also suggests 21st century phrases such as deep learning, deep web, the deep state and, most of all, deep fake, linked with concepts of AI, secrecy, conspiracy, surveillance and control.
In a world of artificial body enhancement, microdosing, neuroengineering, bot armies and crypto art, Unsound 2021 will investigate tensions between the synthetic and organic, the fake and the real, body and machine and online and offline, as well as uniqueness, replication, appropriation and commerce, all of which question yearnings for authentic experiences or an authentic self. How does technology affect the idea of an individual voice, whether that be human or non-human? What does sincerity mean in artistic terms, as well as for online personas and communities around music and art scenes? How do the art, wellness, tourism and food industries use concepts of authenticity to commodify local and personal histories and experiences? Might an embrace of the inauthentic liberate us from the binds of dichotomies that no longer serve us?
In terms of the way the festival is presented, Unsound 2021: dəəp authentic will consider methods of twisting, upending or even breaking the presentation of live music and sound that radicalise or bring a different kind of energy into performance spaces that have already been altered by the pandemic.