An in-depth look at visual arts at the Absolut BeamLab Bar

An in-depth look at visual arts at the Absolut BeamLab Bar

Oct 28, 2016 |  by  |  Art, Event, Music
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Last week during ADE Absolut hosted the BeamLab Bar at Apt., the bottom floor of the new Supperclub. With a spectrum of visual artists present to shed some light on their work, the evening was filled with wow’s and gasps as they showed some of their projects in this intimate setting.

Master of ceremony was Justin Bolognino, founder of . He’s a creative mastermind hailing from New York, and in the recent past two of his companies were bought up by SFX. Another speaker was Daniel Popper, a creative from Cape Town who’s known for some visual masterpieces at AfrikaBurn and Boom Festival. We sat down with them after a long day, and had a lighthearted chat about their work and the magic of ADE.

Hi Daniel, I’d like to dive in straight to the busy week that we’re all currently involved in. What does ADE mean to you?
“I’ve been coming here for the last three years, and my first experience was to just meet people in the industry – nothing was really scheduled, just being immersed in the experience. I went to parties and met some amazing people who I’ve worked with. Once I met the guys who run Elrow in Spain, and we ended up having dinner together. We didn’t know each other and met through a mutual friend, and he asked my friend: ‘I’m looking for this artist from South Africa who did the man with the hands’, and there I was sitting just saying: ‘Oh hello!’. It’s amazing that things like that can happen here. The network and the amount of progressive people that are here in this week, it’s awesome.”


Justin, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us. Let’s get right to business. What did you gain from this ADE experience, how was it for you?
“From what I gathered from the talks this evening, I got the answers from the guys that I wanted. What is this industry? I mean the lines blur more and more each day as more industries sneak in, and then this industry sneaks out, the lines just get very blurry.”

What do you mean by that Justin?
“A lot of the visual stuff started as VJing stuff at musical performances, just a few screens, just a few visuals. The time that went into that set was probably a lot more than went into the visuals back then, but still… You have to put in the 10.000 hours before you can call yourself artist, and that’s what these guys showed this evening. If you haven’t put in the 10.000 hours, but you have 10000 likes on your Facebook or Instagram, that’s bullshit. If you haven’t felt either death coming for you, you wanting to die, or dying, it’s not a fucking sacrifice, and it’s not art and you’re not an artist. Art has to be the hardest path with the most flow. That’s what I gathered from the talks this evening.”

That’s some profound stuff! I’m going to quote you on that.
“Please do!”

Voila, quoted! So Daniel, what’s the favorite project that you yourself have ever worked on?
“It’s for sure my latest one, the Boom Festival Shaman. It was just really coming together of many of the things that I’ve learned, and it all came together in a beautiful way. The experience of building it was great, I got to build it with friends, we had such a good time, it was a fun experience. Wasn’t stressfull, and the impact was above and beyond all of our expectations.”

I can imagine, with the project mapping on that shaman, it really looked enchanting! So Justin, what about yours?
“I don’t do much alone, I work with a lot of projects in large groups. I made a record on my own, like 12 years ago, and that to this day I’m still extremely proud of. Nobody has ever heard it though,haha! It’s called Anamnesis, it’s a 9 track album, and it literally has 50 listens.”

What kind of genre of music would that be?
“As a genre I would call it Glitchfolk. My big influences at the time were anywhere from Four Tet to Radiohead, and some folky stuff. Like folky tunes all fucked up with electronics. It’s about 13 years old. You can find it on Soundcloud!”

Daniel, what are the differences between the South African scene and the Amsterdam scene?
“My experience in South Africa was that I was introduced to the world of electronic dance music at outdoor events, especially in Cape Town. Of course in Johannesburg there was the early rave scene, but I really started to explore with outdoor festivals. Coming to Europe, especially ADE, you’re coming back into the club environments. I suppose in summer there’s a load of outdoor music festivals, but ADE is focused on the clubs. The biggest difference is that the electronic music is part of the culture. It really is, it’s immersed in the history of these cities. In Berlin and Amsterdam it really is a cultural thing, and we get our inspiration from here and also from there. We have some really talented artists, but in reality we’re new to this.”


I’m glad to hear that Amsterdam is an example for the South African scene! Final question then Justin: What are the differences between the New York scene and the Amsterdam scene in your opinion?
“I’d say: “There’s a New York scene?!” We have Nicolas Jaar, but he’s not really from New York. I don’t feel like there is a scene though, maybe there’s some stuff happening in Bushwick, Output is a pretty solid club. That’s kinda the problem with New York, maybe it exists and I’m just too much of a dad with kids to notice it, but there’s nowhere to be an artist, it’s very hard. In the early ’00s the indie dancy thing was going on, that scene in Brooklyn was when it was last happening in New York. And now you have Pacha and such, and it’s become too commercial. A lot of the cool shit is happening in L.A. right now. There’s a lot of visual creative things happening in New York, there’s a scene concerning that there, but electronic music wise, I’d say mehhhh… Right here in Amsterdam it’s in your blood, it’s more condensed, people are more involved, it’s a culture! If there is a scene there in New York, it’s more derivative.”

Then Bolognino leans over towards the microphone, “Amsterdam, what I’m trying to say is that you’re way cooler than New York, WAY fucking cooler!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks to both for answering our extremely shallow questions!

Text by Bas van Kempen.

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