FringeArts, Philadelphia’s home to groundbreaking, experimental art, is no stranger to art in unexpected places. From abandoned buildings to public alleyways, residential basements to parked cars, the annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival has been connecting experimental artists to adventurous audiences in strange, exciting locales for more than 20 years.
On Sept. 6, FringeArts, United By Blue and Technical.ly will be hosting a Digital Fringe Kickoff Party at the UBB store in Old City. The event offers a chance to grab some coffee, read up on the artists featured in the 2017 Digital Fringe Festival and mingle with people working at the intersection of technology and culture.
In its three years of existence, the Digital Fringe Festival has seen projects take the form of interactive visual art, augmented reality–based walking apps, web series, Twitter plays, Instagram exhibitions and a livestream of FringeArts’ marketing team as they tirelessly worked to promote and market 1,000+ performances over the course of three weeks.
This year, the Digital Fringe Festival — which kicks off Sept. 7 — boasts 18 unique projects, helmed by artists from vastly different backgrounds and disciplines, all inviting audiences to engage with their work without having to leave the house. The cohort includes theatermakers, visual artists, poets, dancers, video game designers and more.
“This will be the third year that we present work in our digital neighborhood and we see it as a way to continue to examine the relationship between artists and audiences,” Fringe Festival coordinator Jarrod Markman said. “Digital Fringe came out of our desire to showcase artists whose works aren’t easily presented on a stage or just took place online or in an application. We’re excited to provide our audiences with a slew of innovative, new pieces this year!”
In a world where technology is frequently cited as a force of isolation, something that allows people to selectively shut themselves off from the world, the Digital Fringe Festival explores the ways in which tech can also bring people together, with art as a catalyst.
Several projects in the festival offer audiences an inside look at how art is made and how it interacts with the world, such as “KTG Talks” by Chris O’Rourke, “Encore!” by Jess Conda and “Links in the Landscape” by Ellen Chenoweth. Others are based in text, like “Survived By” by Anna Kroll, “this is boring” by jenny&john and “Rising Above the Beauty of Life” by Dolores Miller. Many use computer graphics as their medium of choice, like “DHRoME 1” by Sam Congdon, “Kongputational Doodles” by Sally Kong, “Pond” by Ellen Duong and “Digital Mean Streets” by Len Stuart. And two projects are linked by an unexpected theme — zombies (“As We Know It” by Clara Blouin, Maura Krause and Lucas Nguyen and “Queers of the Western Zombie Apocalypse” by James Bradford).
All of the projects in the festival break down the traditional obstacles to partaking in an artistic experience. There are no tickets to buy, no rush to make it to curtain time, no trips to plan to a venue. Audiences are encouraged to donate to artists whose work they appreciate via PayPal links on the project pages, but there is no charge to view any project in Digital Fringe.
Want to learn more about the Digital Fringe Festival? Click here to explore the projects yourself. To receive a daily link to a new Digital Fringe project each day of the Fringe Festival, text “DigitalFringe” to 555-888. And for those hungering for some IRL interaction, remember the Sept. 6 event at United By Blue.