ISEA2018 – the 24th International Symposium on Electronic Art – which came to Durban from 23 to 30 June, created a city-wide showcase of dozens of exhibitions, events, installations, walks, festivals and activities, and a major global conference on new media art, all talking to the theme of Intersections.
ISEA2018 was the first ISEA to be held in the African sub-continent. Hosted in venues across Durban, this event incorporated the fifth iteration of the Durban University of Technology’s Digital Festival (DigiFest), Innovate Durban’s 2018 Innovation Festival (IF Durban) and the 9th Interpret Durban event in a strategy to build a local partnership and legacy.

ISEA2018 – a festival in two parts: an academic symposium at DUT City Campus (25-27 June) comprising peer-reviewed papers, panels and keynote presentations for registered delegates travelling from around the world; and then the dozens of events on the cultural programme (23-30 June) and public workshops (22-24 June).

To the uninitiated, the public cultural component of ISEA2018 was an intense and lively ten-day festival featuring some of the world’s most prominent digital artists, comprising a vast array of interesting, brave, fun, innovative and insightful happenings taking place in various venues across the city. The works combined existing art forms (such as illustration, design, dance, fashion, architecture, photography, film and music), re-invented and re-considered to make them interesting and relevant in a new-media, technologically-savvy world. In most instances there was a cross-over with science; mostly with a research component.

Some experiences included virtual reality based art viewed only through a tablet or smart-phone; tiny solar-paneled robots; largescale building projections; electronic jazz performed to a silent film about dinosaurs; underwater sound-scapes; imagining the Zambian space race; digital artworks; app-guided walking tours; video installations on the beach and animated wire art.

The cultural programme was structured in such a way that visitors could follow the daily diary and be part of a set schedule – visitors followed the ISEA itinerary and move from one event to the next.

Partner venues included DUT City Campus; KZNSA Gallery; Durban Art Gallery; Denis Hurley Centre; Emmanuel Cathedral; BAT Centre; Bond Shed; Green Hub; Warwick Junction; Treasure Island; uShaka Marine World; KCap; Bulwer Park and Durban City Hall amongst others.

Events were open to the public, are family friendly and are free of charge.
ISEA2018 / DigiFest05 / IF DURBAN

ISEA2018 culminated on Saturday evening, 30 June, with the ninth edition of Interpret Durban taking over the magnificent Durban City Hall – inside and outside the whole building from 6pm. The space was reimagined by a team of artists from all over the world – using the spaces in an unusual way, and displaying art in various forms throughout the building.

“ISEA2018 / DigiFest05 / IF Durban’s theme, Intersections, brought new audiences, academics, and practitioners together. It positioned creative technological innovation as an activist engagement into public space and allowed for creative collaboration between artists, artisans, designers, technologists, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and inventors. Intersections brought together projects networks and programmes that not only push the local debate on art, science and technology collaboration but buildt a national network of practice and collaboration,” explains ISEA2018 artistic director and The Trinity Session director, Marcus Neustetter.

“The city-wide cultural programme hosted local and international projects and presentations in public spaces across Durban and surrounding areas. This included artist interventions and performances, site-specific workshops, talks in alternative spaces, thematic exhibitions and activation tours. And all of this happened in very complex and challenging conditions. A special thank you to all the supporters, participants and artists. Only through their generocity and engagement was ISEA2018 possible.”

Local ISEA2018 / DigiFest05 / IF Durban partners are Durban University of Technology’s Faculty of Arts and Design, Innovate Durban, eThekwini Municipality, Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau and The Trinity Session.


About ISEA2018 and ISEA International: ISEA symposia are coordinated by ISEA International. Founded in the Netherlands in 1990, ISEA International (formerly Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts) is an international non-profit organization fostering interdisciplinary academic discourse exchange among culturally diverse organizations and individuals working with art, science and technology. ISEA International Headquarters is supported by the University of Brighton (UK)