Common wisdom describes blistering noise as intensely undesirable. Our ears are trained to appreciate polite melodies and predictable rhythms and anything outside that narrow aesthetic comfort zone offends our delicate sensibilities. However, getting blindsided by cacophony is not necessarily a bad thing. In those rare moments when you are exposed to something that is visceral, loud and so new that it sounds alien, a few things happen: you freeze in your tracks, the hair on the back of your neck bristles, and – instinctively – your attention locks onto and tries to make sense of the din. You might feel compelled to take a defensive stance when blasted by a wall of sound, but that would be a mistake. Noise should always be welcomed as a friend, rather than a foe, as, like good company, it foregrounds the immediacy of the moment and it rattles opinions loose from the bindings of reason and habit.
The programming at this second edition of Resonate is the best kind of noise. Much like a radio stuck between stations, the reception seems idiosyncratic and disorienting at first. Once you attune yourself to the frequency of this transmission the magic happens; conversations begin to bleed into one another, commonalities in tactics and techniques become apparent, and – if you listen closely – you’ll hear the arcane whispers of bigger, sweeping narratives emerge from the buzz of the crowd.
Resonate is exceptional because it is one of the rare festivals where you actually experience the chaos and glorious noise of the present. Many conferences and symposiums relish in the conservative propagation of shrink-wrapped ideas and projects that are rapidly approaching their ‘best before’ date. Worse yet, others are thinly-veiled trade shows – a banal parade of best practices. Here, things are messy, vital and emergent. Presenters and audience alike come from a range of backgrounds and everyone is equally invested in cultivating a serious consideration of the intent behind and process of creation. This year’s featured practices range from lo-fi installation work produced for white cube galleries through motion graphics and interactive material developed for Fortune 500 clients – and you know what? Within the microcosm of these three days, both ends of this spectrum are equally relevant. That’s what makes Resonate so singular – the wild multidisciplinarity and varied perspectives of all parties involved.
If the impossibly rich itinerary we’re about to embark into is indeed like our metaphorical ‘radio stuck between stations’, then that means each of us is charged with taking stewardship over the signal. As per the advice offered above: don’t be overly fussy about fine tuning, embrace the contradictions, and you might as well turn the volume up while you are at it.
Greg J. Smith