With support from the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs, artists from Bergen travel to Uganda with around 20 powerful computers, with the aim of africanizing digital art.
Bergens Tidende

In February a group of artist will travel to Kampala with 15-20 powerful Macintosh computers in their baggage. The aim is to create African computer art. They will search for the answer to Brian Eno's question: «How can you africanize a computer?».

- The Ugandan Artist Association will provide us with a room to work in. They have also selected established African artists to work with us. We will hold a workshop over an intensive fourteen-day period that will culminate in a presentation at the French Art Centre, explains Jørgen Knudsen enthusiastically. He is producer of the project Ultra Hot Wired Live Art (U-HWLA). The artist group Motherboard, directed by Per Platou and Amanda Steggell, are responsible for leading the workshop. In addition, the former director of Bergen Kunsthall, Bo Krister Wallström, who initially established contact with Uganda, will be joining this digital art journey.

But U-HWLA is only the begining. The initiaters envisage a longer involvement. As long as all goes well, and the computers are kept intact, they hope that this initiative, with the help of Norad, will be the first of many exchanges to come.

The Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (UD) first became interested in the idea, and have supported the poject with NOK 100.000. This result clearly reflects UD's enthusiasm for the project. The computers that will be travelling to Kampala stem from an earlier art project that Per Platou organised in Oslo, and Motherboard's event in Kampala has been tested previously. U-HWLA builds on a so-called worklab model developed by Motherboard, namely Hot Wired Live Art, which took place at BEK (Bergen Centre for Electronic Art) in Bergen during the winter of 2000. A group of international artists and programmers met to explore the possibilities of net- and digital technology. A similar event was also held in Canada.

- Considering all the poverty and troubles there, isn't it a bit strange to travel to Africa to help out with digital art?

- I can see the paradox in the situation, but Africans are very positive people. This collaboration functions on a totally different level than other traditional aid programs. In this case we are more equal. With this project we take the Ugandan artists seriously, says Wallström. The only thing the artists currently lack is a sponsor to pay for a container to transport the machines, with a price tag of between NOK 15.000 -18.000, says Jørgern Knudsen.

Translated from Norwegian.

Bergens Tidende


New Vision, Nathan Kiwere

While Uganda is not lacking in artists educated both locally and abroad, there is an immense lack of resources for artistic work that utilises digital tools. However, this obtrusive deficiency is about to become a thing of the past.

A contingent of seven Norwegian artists is in the country on a mission to demystify the concept of digital art. The group called Motherboard jetted in on the February 13, and has since been holding a work lab with over 15 local artists and musicians at the Afriart gallery, located at Lugogo UMA show ground, courtesy of Uganda Artists Association (UAA). Amanda Steggell and Per Platou jointly lead the non-profit organisation. The event code named Ultrahotwiredliveart 2004 workshop is the first one of its kind in Uganda and has ushered the participants into the new world of digital inspiration.

The project has introduced a new art form using a computer application called Musical instruments and Digital Interface (MiDi). It is basically an interaction of different art forms such as sounds, computer graphics etc to form a single piece. A digital note system on the computer connecting different machines in concert. The system was developed in the mid 1980s and is the only code language that has been developed for only artistic purposes. At a higher level it involves a technique known as video teleconferencing, a global network that connects participants from around the world in theatre art, while monitoring each other on the screen.

Motherboard came with 17 mackintosh computers, a complete MiDi system (sufficient to set up a modern music recording studio), video cameras and an overhead projector. The good news is that these gadgets have been donated to the UAA, based at Nommo gallery, at Nakasero. The association is now going to set up a centre that according to Platou will become the hub of computer art in Uganda, complete with a permanent Internet connection courtesy of Bergen Centre of Electronic Art in Norway. This will help UAA to join the global league of video teleconferencing. The pinnacle of the workshop is bound to take place today on February 27, at the Afriart gallery.

The show will be graced by high level government officials, artists and art lovers. They will be cultural performances by Norwegians, the Ndere Troupe and the Uganda Heritage Roots. Lt Gen Elly Tumwine, the patron of UAA who played a monumental role in the coming of Motherboard will also be present. The next ten days after this show will include a showbiz tour to be hosted by Alliance Françoise, the National Theatre and others. These institutions have expressed a desire in showing the outcomes of a workshop of this genre.

A gleeful, Platou was quick to say, “For a long time music and visual arts have been treated as different entities but we want to amalgamate them – already our initial objectives have been underscored I am excited.”


LOOK: Amanda Steggell (left) and Henry Mziri at the digital art workshop.