Highlighting the chipmusic phenomenon and its related disciplines, the festival aims to showcase emerging creative niches involving the use of legacy video game & home computer hardware as modern artistic instrumentation. Devices such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Nintendo Game Boy and others are repurposed into the service of original, low-res, high-impact electronic music and visuals — sidestepping game culture and instead exploring the technology’s untapped potential and distinctive intrinsic character.
The Blip Festival assembles nearly 40 practitioners selected from the chip music movement’s expansive global underground, taking care to represent as many as possible of the genre’s surprisingly diverse styles, geographical and technical scenes, communities, and traditions. The festival’s concert program will be supplemented by daytime events to be announced, including workshops, presentations, and screenings. The Blip Festival’s intended result is to provide a cross-section of a movement currently in explosive flux, teeming with artistic exploration, and poised at the cusp of global awareness.
What is so cool about 8-bit music and the Blip Festival?
As a child of the 80s, I was exposed to the 8-bit sound first through video games on the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Entertainment System, and much later through the vibrant chiptune scene that surrounded the Commodore Amiga computer. I distinctly remember loading games on my C64 just to hear the music – it wasn’t unusual for a game to have music than graphics or gameplay. Years later, I’m not sure if it’s because 8-bit music was ahead of it’s time or that electronic music today is embracing a more raw low-fidelity sound, but I still find the 8-bit sound fresh and interesting. Certainly it does have something to do with the many talented chiptune artists that have chosen to exploit the 8-bit sound in ways that remind me of the old but are also completely original and new.
If you can’t make it to the Blip Festival, one of the best introductions to 8-bit music is the 8-Bit Operators album. The album features 15 covers of Kraftwerk by 8-bit artists and gives you a taste of a few very different approaches to the 8-bit sound. Also check out the Gamewave Podcast, which often features artists that have performed at the Blip Festival in previous years, many of which will return in December.
Archaic game and home computer hardware is recast into the unlikely role of musical instrument and motion graphics workstation in the BLIP FESTIVAL 2008, a four-day event showcasing nearly 40 musicians and visual artists occupying the international low-res cutting edge. The Blip Festival takes place DECEMBER 4 – 7 2008 at The Bell House, and is presented by Manhattan art organization THE TANK and NYC artist collective 8BITPEOPLES.