Gabrielle Jenks

The director of Abandon Normal Devices, the festival of new cinema, digital culture and art, is inspired by the Peak District

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This year, we have decided to transport Abandon Normal Devices’ (AND) roving biennial festival of digital art, culture and new cinema to a small village called Castleton in the heart of the Peak District. What is particularly unique about this location is the geography. It is flanked by towering peaks, including Winnats Pass and Mam Tor, as well as being surrounded by a number of sublime and beautiful caves and caverns.

I always wanted the main theme of this year’s programme to be verticality. Artists have explored how space is controlled according to what is above and below but this year – more than in recent years – I felt it was important to respond to our environments in terms of the vertical. Working with a range of international artists, designers and musicians to uncover what lies below our feet and who owns our skies, Castleton quickly became the perfect place to explore these ideas.

We are thrilled to be hosting the UK debut of Waterlicht, designed by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde with international design and innovation group Studio Roosegaarde. This show-stopping digital light and smoke installation (pictured) will fill the dramatic v-shaped valley of Winnats Pass that acts as a gateway to Castleton and the Peak District. Over three nights Waterlicht will flood the valley and weave a story to reveal the geological history of the site that stretches back as far as the Ice Age to visualise how high the water levels reached. Studio Roosegaarde has used cutting edge LED technology, software and lenses, and recently won the Award for Best Lighting Environment Design, 2016 in Shenzen, China. It is going to be spectacular one-off experience.

Our subterranean horror movie double bill is set deep underground in Peak Cavern

This year is particularly special as we are working with a range of musicians, composers and producers for the first time to create a special sonic event, Listening to the Dark. As well as a unique residency and work by UK musician Beatrice Dillon and Indonesian artists Ikbal Simamora Lubys and Tony Maryana, we have a one-off live show on Friday 22 September featuring new works by producer and DJ Nkisi and contemporary musician and artist James Ferraro. Ferraro will be showing his new “opera” about artificial intelligence, called The Deluge. It is a co-commission with Transmediale and we really cannot wait to see it live.

Another unique moment in our programme this year is our subterranean horror movie double bill set deep underground in Peak Cavern. We are showing the classic Tremors, a body-horror-cum-comedy with Hollywood legends Kevin Bacon and Earl Bassett. In the office, we’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be more than human, and I think this film takes a tongue in cheek approach to that. We are also showing UK horror extravaganza The Descent. We really wanted to show something that puts women at the centre of UK filmmaking. The Descent features an all-female lead line-up and it is grisly and thrilling to boot!

At AND, we are always trying to find ways to communicate the complex realities that surface as part of living in a highly networked and digital society. We invited emerging artist and curator duo Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Doreen Rios to put together an experience responding to this idea. They’ve created an extraordinary augmented reality exhibition, My Wall is Your Filter Bubble. The show explores echo chambers, filter bubbles and firewalls and they have invited a selection of Mexican artists to create new online works about their own experiences of social, cultural and political divides. You will have to explore Castleton to find each work, and it is set to be an intrepid adventure.

It only feels as if I just begun talking about what we will be showing this year. There is so much more to see and do, and most of it will be free and family-friendly.

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