The Alys Foundation presented the 16th Annual Digital Graffiti Festival at Alys Beach May 19-20, 2023. The Scenic 30A community of Alys Beach, located along the northwest Florida Emerald Coast, provided the environment for the Digital Graffiti festival – an open-air, organic gallery for the projections. The festival’s juried show featured the works of artists from the worldwide arena, unique in its display by digital projection onto the white walls of the architecture of Alys Beach, and into the broader exterior landscape. Digital Graffiti provides a special and specific context for artists to explore the visual intersection of art and architecture as the nighttime festival illuminates the town with the latest in design, animation, and projection technologies; two glowing evenings of innovation and inspiration, with artists exhibiting works of projection mapping, generative art, experimental short films, and animation, as well as sound, motion, and light-responsive installations.
With curator John Colette at the helm, Digital Graffiti enjoys the perspective of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) motion media design professor and eight-year veteran participant. Colette views the festival as an opportunity for the audience to engage with art outside of the traditional gallery space in a presentation that “makes the art much more of a living experience,” allowing the audience to “get deeper into the work” outside of the confines structured by “what we think we should do in that (gallery) environment.” His hope is that the festival offers the audience a “cue for the imagination,” an opportunity to step into a living, breathing town and allow the interaction between the art and the environment, and the impact of the audience’s own input and physical influence on the art projections, to change their overall perspective; to change the way they see the world.
For those unable to experience Digital Graffiti in person, it was be live-streamed from the festival route on Friday,
May 19, from 8 PM. Hosted by longtime technical consultant Geoffrey Platt along with the Seaside Institute’s
Christy Milliken and featuring interviews with the artists and their submissions along the DG path, this live
broadcast brought Digital Graffiti to all corners of the globe. Click here for a recording of the event in case you missed it.
The 2023 awards include Best in Show ($5,000 prize): Holy Photons, Through the Fire to the Light; Curator’s Choice ($2,000 prize): Brittnie Diamant, Memoria Amnesia, and three Special Recognition honors (at $1,000 prize each): Peter Clark & Cody Samson, Ecotone; S4RA, privacy-GrDN.info; Jinkyu Kang, The Light. Festival winners were selected by the festival’s curator, John Colette, and an esteemed panel of judges.
Additionally, a selection of more than 55 artists from worldwide submissions displayed their works for the juried show, alongside special projects from the three residency artists, students of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s motion media design program, ASH Scholars from the University of Missouri, local students from Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School, the Point Washington Medical Clinic, Dave King of SoWal House, and Visit Florida, using the white masonry architecture, pathways and landscape of the town as a large-scale canvas. The Alys Foundation has donated more than $200,000 in awards and artist stipends over the past 15 years, all to further facilitate and encourage digital display of art in the public realm.
The engagement between the art, architecture, and audience is transformative, creating an immersive and interactive art projection experience that is entirely unique to the Digital Graffiti festival, named as one of the top “24 Unconventional Art Destinations Around the World” by National Geographic. The audience moves throughout the festival footprint, through the streets and pedestrian paths, pocket parks and amenity spaces, engaging with the art within the context of the town’s urbanism, within the shared community experience, and within a festival environment of food, drink, and music. Digital Graffiti in Alys Beach is an authentically unique art experience.
This year’s finalists included:
Christopher Farstad (5K Candle), Alex Campbell, Alexander Mendoza, Alyssa Mackersie, Angelica Verdan, Border Williams ft. Micah Buzan, Brandon XODUS Ellis, Brittnie Diamant, Candi Gordon, Christopher DeLorenzo, City University of Hong Kong Students, Cody ‘Shmody’ Samson, Daisy Rankin, David Bennett, Elise Lyon, Eric Homan, Fumie Ito Matters, Gary Bitsicas, George Berlin, Holly Danger, Holy Photons, Io Ermoli, Isabel ‘Irrita’ Clavo, Jean-Michel Rolland, Jennifer Petuch, Jeremy Oury, Jinkyu ‘Q’ Kang, Jonah Allen, Kaleb River Sweeney, Karen Brummund, Katherine Balsley, Katie Rolph, Keaton Fox, Kenneth Russo & WAAI, Komal Goswami, Lori Ersolmaz, Luke Hildreth, Lynn Kim, Meghan Romance, Michael Betancourt, Nano Fantom, Patrick Kuhnmuench, Peter Clark, Priscilla Quek, Renee Silva, S4RA, Savannah College of Art and Design Students, Ted Cobena, University of Missouri ASH Scholars, Timothy Nohe, Tracy Miller-Robbins, Tyler ‘TJB’ Hallett, Xinye Lin, Zach Winter
As Digital Graffiti Residency Artists for the 2023 festival, the works of Katina Bitsicas, XUAN, and Austin Shaw will be featured throughout the festival route.
Katina Bitsicas is a new media artist whose creative work explores personal loss, trauma, and memory through video, installation, photography, and performance. Bitsicas’ work explores the human connection through shared experiences, and finding meaning in those experiences, incorporating metaphors such as red thread to symbolize loss and the desire for connection. Bitsicas’ work has been exhibited around the world including The Armory Show (NYC), PULSE Art Fair (Miami), Satellite Art Fair (Miami), Superchief Gallery NFT (NYC), the Wheaton Biennial curated by Legacy Russell (MA), HereArt in New York, Art in Odd Places in Orlando, the St. Louis International Film Festival and Digital Graffiti in Alys Beach. She is an assistant professor and Coordinator of Digital Storytelling at the University of Missouri, where she conducts research with the MU School of Medicine on utilizing digital storytelling as a meaning-making intervention for those experiencing the bereavement process.
XUAN is a filmmaker, pianist, and new media artist whose work explores the meeting point of music, visual art, and technology. A trained classical pianist with a passion for “visual music,” she actively develops innovative, cross-disciplinary projects that broaden the immersive scope of new music and performance. She was selected to create projections for Art on theMart, the “largest permanent digital art projection in the world” on the 2.5-acre façade of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, in collaboration with GRAMMY-winning ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, and world-renowned composer Michael Gordon. Her interactive installations have exhibited at the erstererster Gallery in Berlin, the ibug Urban Art Festival in Reinchenbach (Germany), Design Biennale in Zürich, the RESCUE Residency in Santo Stefano di Magra (Italy), Sound Forms in Hong Kong, and others. Xuan is an advocate for cross-disciplinary collaboration and multi-media performance and has given lectures on these topics at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of South Carolina, Rochester Institute of Technology, and The New School. She has taught experimental filmmaking at the Eastman School of Music since 2016.
Austin Shaw has nearly 20 years of experience as a creative director, art director, designer, animator, and illustrator for some of the top design-driven production companies including motion design projects for Ferrari, Ralph Lauren, The National Geographic Channel, MTV, VH1, ESPN, Target, McGraw Hill and others. His projects have been recognized for Broadcast Design Awards and Emmy nominations. Shaw is an assistant professor of design at Western Washington University and has taught for the Savannah College of Art and Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
John Colette is the 2023 Digital Graffiti festival curator and professor in the Motion Media Design program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. As a professor, Colette teaches within the program and contributes to program development and research project work with a focus on contextual research, exploration of digital ecosystems, UI / displays and User Experience for industry partners including Fossil Watches, Samsung, BMW Technology Office USA, Microsoft Studios and Adobe Systems. Colette’s personal work and research involves large public display systems, media control systems, interactivity and sonification projects.
Christy Milliken currently serves as the Interim Director of the Seaside Institute. She embodies the core principles of New Urbanism through connectivity, adaptability, and sustainability. Christy’s professional experience brings an eclectic balance where structure meets creativity. With over thirty years of experience in program coordination, organizational management, event execution, sales and marketing, and media management, Christy brings passion to her work through creative and collaborative relationship building to further the reach and mission of New Urbanism.
Serving in different aspects at Digital Graffiti over the last decade and working closely with the Alys Beach team, Christy brings a familiar presence to the 2023 judges panel.
Joshua Bernard is the co-founder and operations director of LUMA Projection Arts Festival, an annual summit in Binghamton, New York. Throughout his varied career, Bernard has worked as a major events planner, community revitalization advocate, videographer, software developer, and radio personality. His winding career path began in Northern New Jersey where, as a young person, he fell in love with New York City’s wildly diverse arts scene. After graduating from Brandeis University with a degree in American Studies and Theatre, he pursued a passion for radio at stations in Boston and New York City. While hosting a morning show in Binghamton, Bernard discovered his love of small towns. His passionate advocacy for downtown revitalization eventually led to his co-founding LUMA, an event dedicated to pushing the boundaries of storytelling between art and technology.
Geoffrey Platt is a well-known media server and emerging digital media specialist in the real time video and effects industry, based in Orlando, Florida. Platt has helped create award-winning real-time video products for high profile manufacturers and for high-profile shows and events across industries including concerts, theatre, film, and location-based entertainment and television. Founder of “Ahead of the Curve” in 2020, a web-based TV show designed to share emerging technologies in the live and location-based entertainment markets through social media and virtual environments, Platt brings a wealth of knowledge in lighting and video workflows as they apply to the real time video and events industries.
Jennifer Steele is executive director of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, the local arts organization that has fostered 30 years of cultural and artistic growth in Northwest Florida through advocacy, funding, programming, and education. Steele has been part of the South Walton community throughout her life and, with a BFA from Valdosta State University, has played an integral role in the progression of cultural programming in the area by helping to found, and by leading, many significant festivals and arts initiatives including the REP, which she co-founded as the Seaside Repertory Theatre, the 30A Songwriters Festival, ArtsQuest, the Flutterby Festival, the Under the Sea fundraiser supporting the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA), and much more, as well as in her support of events, festivals, programming, and nonprofit efforts community wide.
Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach opens with an adult-only (21+), all-inclusive food and beverage experience. Stroll the festival path, lined with art installations intermixed with festive food and beverage presentations from the best local and regional chefs, restaurants, winemakers, distilleries, and breweries. This evening will be a spectacle for the senses!
For the finale of the 16th Annual Digital Graffiti event, we welcome families and guests of all ages to experience the projection art installed along the festival path. Engage and interact with the artwork in the immersive festival experience, with food trucks and beverage stands positioned throughout the path with fun eats and drinks for purchase.
Festival patrons, staff, artists, and media alike are encouraged to download the official, complimentary Digital Graffiti app which can be found in both the Apple and Android App Store by searching ‘Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach.’