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Manchester's Cornerhouse goes on a digital spree

Abandon Normal Devices and take part in the festival of new cinema, digital culture and art. That's what Anne Louise Kershaw is getting ready to do

The Cornerhouse is something of an icon in Manchester. For many years it has offered a continuously innovative programme of independent film and exhibition, including workshops and a rather nice café at which to enjoy a decent glass of wine.

It has built a reliable artistic reputation and is both an architectural and cultural landmark on the Manchester map and psyche. It is no surprise therefore, that when they launched Abandon Normal Devices (AND) festival back in 2009, it was a great success.

Working in collaboration with FACT (the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), the regional AND festival began in Liverpool and has since alternated between Liverpool and Manchester. This summer the hub returns to Manchester with events and exhibitions spanning across more than twenty venues and locations with an extended regional programme across Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire.

Running from 29 August untill 2 September, nothing about these events is predictable or to be expected. They include exhibitions, film screenings, artists' talks and workshops as well as an outreach programme beyond Cornerhouse's doors

Exploring the theme of 'success', the AND festival wants visitors to experience, rather than simply observe, the complexities, gradations and anomalies encountered when we explore the notion as an ideal. With a very technological and scientific slant, AND is as much about the process, collaboration and evolution of work over time, as it is about the final product. At all stages audiences are encouraged to question their experience in a critical way.

Exhibitions such as 'Pigs Bladder Football' by John O'Shea give a small glimpse into the festival's epic and unusual scale. Through biological experimentation, rapid prototyping and an iterative design process, O'Shea will culture the world's first bio-engineered football, grown from living cells. This aims to encourage us to consider the colliding worlds of human enhancement, bio-technology and the capitalisation of sport, and what role each of these will play in our lives.

Of equal oddness but just as delightful is the 'Empire Drive-In' by Jeff Stark and Todd Chandler. A full-scale drive-in movie theatre made from wrecked cars, it is symbolic of the once thriving drive-in industry in the US. By day you be able to roam freely from car to car experiencing different sonic environments and art pieces. By night the scrapyard aesthetic will extend into a specially programed series of live soundtracks, a slide show of abandoned spaces and film screenings of films such as 'Mad Max II' and 'Robocop'.

From scientific and digital advancements to environmental and commercial failure, the experience of success is explored for both its fleeting and addictive qualities.The festival programme summarises:

Through unusual strategies, the artists and filmmakers working in this year's festival reveal alternative ways of being by offering rich counterpoints to perfection and undermining accepted logic.

The results are sharp and scientific as well as artistic and surreal. By combining these superficially polar opposites into one festival of digital culture and art, a new and forward looking way of thinking is encouraged; although exactly what this will entail, is anyone's guess.

The full programme is here. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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