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Art Basel 2023

A review of Art Basel

Between Sunday 3rd and Monday 11th December I was in Miami for Art Basel. This was my first time in Miami and my first time attending Art Basel Miami. The entire week was a flurry of excitement, art and parties. Here's a blog post with an overview of my experience. Hope you enjoy reading!

I landed in Miami late on Sunday and headed to Dantes HiFi Bar - a bar with a huge record collection, designed to enjoy a drink and listen to music while a DJ spins vinyls. I met my friends here, and enjoyed a sweet old fashioned while listening to some music.

I was working for the first half of the week, so spent my downtime from Monday to Wednesday researching events to go to in the latter half of the week. I discovered Trippy Labs event, called Beyond Basel. A showcase of digital artists and a warehouse full of interesting installations and technology being used to display artwork.

Ben Heim aftermath of destroying a piano

Wednesday rolled around and the Bright Moments team arrived in town. On Wednesday evening I found myself in Dantes again with a friend who I had met in Miami, enjoying a drink prior to the Bright Moments dinner. By this point, I was really settling into Miami. The people there are friendly and kind, and the city has a real sense of culture. I was spending a lot of time in Wynwood, an area covered in Graffiti art and with a good vibe in general. I came across a huge 1UP mural on 29th and 6th which was completed during my time there. It looked insane! I love 1UP, and have followed them on YouTube for quite some time. Seeing one of their murals, and seeing it in person was a real honour.

1UP Mural on 29th and 6th in Wynwood

By this point I had also discovered a lovely bar called Lagniappe. There's live jazz most nights, and the bar offers a make-your-own charcuterie. There's an entire fridge full of charcuterie options, and for a small fee the kitchen plates it up for you with fig jam, bread and olives. And it tastes incredible. By Wednesday, I had visited Lagniappe multiple times. There is a free-for-all vibe in there, with an eclectic range of seating options. Inside there are a range of comfy seats, and outside there is a mish-mash of garden furniture and tables. I rarely feel comfortable enough to sit in one place for an extended amount of time, but Lagniappe hit the spot. One evening I found an incredibly comfy chair, ordered charcuterie and wine, and sat there all evening listening to soul music with a friend. Incredible.

Thursday rolled around, the first day of Trippy Labs Beyond Basel. I was not prepared for how epic this show would be. We arrived at the venue - Factory Town - which is a little bit out of the city centre. Factory Town is a huge area made up of disused factory buildings. It turns out that the Trippy Labs installation is a huge warehouse placed right in the centre of a full-on rave. I mean, full on. There were 4 stages, 2 huge ones and 2 smaller ones. On one of the evenings, Skepta performed with Jammer. On the closing evening, Skream performed. Over the 4 days that Trippy Labs had an installation there, I found myself dipping into the tranquil retreat of the art warehouse then out into the madness of the rave. The perfect combination.

Tesseract Installation - Trippy Labs

Inside Trippy Labs was breathtaking. One of the pieces that really resonated with me is above, and I can only describe it as the Tesseract. I found myself peering over the top, and looking down into the endless mirrored tunnel. I did this for quite some time, getting completely lost in the endlessness of this installation. Loved it!

The range of art inside the warehouse was stunning. There was an interactive camera, which provided a reflection of someone stood in your place, doing the same stance as you in that moment. If someone had not taken that stance before, it remembered your stance and displayed that to the next person to do that stance. A constantly learning AI mirror!

Laser Cut Light Installation

Alongside the tesseract, there were laser cut installations utilising micro computers for lighting. These were placed on a wall just by the exit. Watching the light variance change over time was fascinating and relaxing.

LED Pulse

A highlight was for sure the LED Pulse Volumetric Lighting. The LED Pulse is a technological innovation in itself. It took the team 6 years to build this technology, and consists of individual programmable LEDs. I chatted with the engineer behind it and discovered that TouchDesigner can be used to program each light, producing stunning effects. On one of the evenings, there were floating spheres which traversed the entire space. On another evening, there were humans made up of each LED. The humans walked from the back of the installation to the front then disappeared off the edge. This whole experience was breathtaking.

LED Wall Installation - Trippy Labs

Unmissable was the LED wall. This spanned an entire side of the warehouse and was displaying art the entire time. Ben Heim performed in front of this wall, smashing up a piano and utilising audio reactivity to display each hit as a paint splat on the wall. As someone who is fascinated by making a computer create human-like outputs, this was a pleasure to watch. Following the piano performance, there was an interactive paint exhibit on the wall. Each person could walk up to the wall and drag their hand across it, pulling colours across the wall and painting a huge digital canvas. Everyone was running up to the wall, grabbing a colour, then running across the warehouse to drag the colour across the canvas. Standing back and observing this, created an ever-changing canvas where everyone in the room had an influence on the outcome. This is a great way for digital art to be enjoyed. The installation drew on all the elements that make IRL digital art great. Everyone in the room had an influence on the outcome, the interactivity aspect was enjoyable, and the technology combined, and performed, flawlessly.

Ben Heim - Audio Reactive Piano Destruction

It was also great to see friends art on this installation. An artist called Clay Devlin displayed a piece called Lightspeed, taking up the entire wall. The nature of the piece is a moving cube of lighting. It's pretty mesmerising seeing it on a phone or computer, so seeing it traverse a gigantic LED wall was magical.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Art Basel Miami. People in Miami are very welcoming and homely, the city has a vibrant buzz to it, the food is excellent and not extortionately expensive, and the city filled up with likeminded individuals and friends who are passionate about the cross section of technology and art. I give Art Basel a 10/10, and left the city having achieved my goal - which was to feel inspired and enjoy seeing art with friends.

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