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The festival will explore artists, filmmakers and activists' responses to the glut and degradation of information.

Microwave International Announces 2020 Theme

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, The Whole Truth (2012). Reverse engineered lie detector, 3-channel video, stereo sound, desk, chairs, artificial plants. 24 minutes. Courtesy the artist.

The Microwave International New Media Arts Festival has announced the theme of its 2020 edition, which will take place in Hong Kong 30 October–15 November. Entitled Sharp Chronicles, the festival will explore the pursuit of truth in the face of data overload and deliberate misinformation.

'Media art is not merely the practice of creative ideas, but also embodies the characteristics of science and technology,' said Microwave's Programme Director Joel Kwong. 'Therefore, not only is media art capable of circulating messages, documenting evidence, instigating research and [increasing] awareness, it also opens the possibilities of tracing and pursuing truth.'

Microwave began in 1996 as an annual video art festival run by Hong Kong nonprofit Videotage. This year, it consists of exhibitions at Hong Kong City Hall and Cabinet of Stories, film screenings that will take place across the city, and a conference format with a twist.

Artists and collectives participating in the Main Exhibition include Jordan's Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Taiwan's Tao Ya-Lun, Forensic Architecture, Critical Art Ensemble, Fukushima-focused curatorial collective Don't Follow the Wind, and International NGO Tactical Tech. Between them, the participants explore disparate topics including environmental triage, tear gas, and the use of voice analysis as a lie detector.

The preview of the Main Exhibition, which requires prior registration, takes place on 30 October before the exhibition opens to the public from 31 October–8 November.

Tao Ya-Lun, Wandering Ghost No. 5 (2020). 3D digital image, VR, kinetic installation.

Tao Ya-Lun, Wandering Ghost No. 5 (2020). 3D digital image, VR, kinetic installation. Courtesy the artist.

A second exhibition, Project Room: About Life and Death, takes place at art and lifestyle store Cabinet of Stories from 1–15 November. Five creative practitioners — Joe Fang and Chung-Lun Wu from Taiwan; and Edward Chiu, Jason Lam, and Jean Tsoi Wai-Yin from Hong Kong — will build on four fictional stories through a mix of images, music, and interactive installations.

Film screenings will also take place in different locations around Hong Kong from 25 October–22 November. They include selected shorts from Italian communication research centre Fabrica, animations by Yoriko Mizushiri and the Japan Media Arts Festival, films by German filmmaker Harun Farocki, David Bernet's documentary Democracy: In the Intoxication of Data (2015), and Strange Culture (2007), Lynn Hershaman Leeson's documentary about artist and professor Steve Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble (CAE).

Leeson is also one of the speakers at the festival's Unconference. Due to the pandemic, the Unconference has been transformed into an online video series hosted by news anchor Diane To. The four episodes, which also feature forensic anthropologist Winsome Lee, artist and biohacker Dr Heather Dewey-Hagborg, and Co-founder and Creative Director of Tactical Tech Marek Tuszynski, will be released on the Festival's Facebook page at 9pm Hong Kong time 2–5 November. —[O]

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