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Wits U brings digital festival back to Joburg

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Wits University will be hosting the second Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival, with this year’s event focusing on digital innovation in Africa by Africans.

Wits University has announced that it will be hosting a second Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival in conjunction with headline sponsor, the City of Johannesburg. Spanning over three weeks during August and September, the 2015 festival will be held at the Tshimologong Innovation Hub in Braamfontein and will include a spectacular audiovisual laser performance on the opening night.

Prof Christo Doherty, co-founder and Director of the Fak’ugesi: African Digital Innovation Festival and Head of Digital Arts at Wits University says that the emphasis of the 2015 festival is on digital innovation in Africa, by Africans: “Africa needs innovation and the tremendous possibilities of digital will be the basis for an explosion of technological and artistic innovation. We are offering participants an excellent opportunity to learn, network and play again. The 2014 Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Festival was a great success and we are looking forward to another stimulating programme focused on digital innovation through the fusion of technology and creative arts.”

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Prof Christo Doherty, co-founder and Director of the Fak’ugesi

Aimed at the youth primarily, as well as programmers, artists, digital entrepreneurs, gamers, musicians, 3D makers, dancers, choreographers, and hackers, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation festival is the perfect opportunity for anyone wanting access to inspiring digital innovation.

Doherty says that the 2015 programme will bring together top African, South African, and international talent: “Previously we have had excellent talent exchanges with the Goethe-Institut; British Council; French Institute, and Pro Helvetia and this year we have many exciting events lined up.”

The opening event at the historic Alexander Theatre will feature a live audiovisual laser performance by Robert Henke entitled Lumiere II.  Henke, brought to South Africa with the support of the Goethe Institut, is an artist working from Berlin in the fields of audiovisual installation, music and performance: “Coming from a strong engineering background, the beauty of technical objects fascinates Henke and developing his own instruments and algorithms is an integral part of his creative process.  We are extremely excited to host an artist of this calibre.”

“I am very excited to come to South Africa. It will be my first time and I only have a vague idea what to expect. Lumière is about rhythm, about perception of time, about repetition and change. A lot of music, which is important to me, has been hugely influenced by African music. The American minimalists inspire me, and also there is a connection between some types of early techno music and African rhythms and instrumentations. Thus, bringing Lumière to South Africa is in a way closing a circle, and then hopefully turning it into a spiral that repeats and evolves.” said Henke.

Dr. Norbert Spitz, Regional Director Goethe-Institut South Africa says: ”We are proud to continue our partnership with the Fak’ugesi: African Digital Innovation Festival in 2015, by presenting an extraordinary audiovisual laser performance of Berlin based artist Robert Henke, which will explore the limits of what can be done with computer generated sound and laser technique. Additionally, and in line with our goal to strengthen pan-African dialogue through the arts, we are once more inviting digital artists and game developers from all over the continent to the 4th AMAZE Games and Playful Media Festival in Johannesburg, which will also be part of Fak’ugesi Festival.”

The Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival will run from 21 August to 13 September in Braamfontein.

Arts and Entertainment

SA rises as Spotify turns 10

October 2018 marks 10 years since Spotify officially launched its music streaming platform and to celebrate this milestone, Spotify has taken a look at some of its biggest discoveries in music.

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Spotify provided the following information:

The service only launched in South Africa in March this year, so this country is not included in the retrospective, but Spotify supplied Gadget with the following local streaming landmarks:

·         Most streamed South African artist – Jeremy Loops

·         Most streamed female South African artist – Shekhinah

·         Highest first-day streaming record – AKA’s Beyonce

Since launch Spotify now sits at 180 million monthly active listeners across 65 countries. These Spotify users can enjoy a music library of over 40 million songs and podcasts, and over 3 billion-plus user-created playlists. As of 31 August 2018, Spotify has also paid over 10 billion euros to rights holders since launch.

To date, over 2 000 genres of music have been identified on Spotify, among them Wonky (electronic music characterised by synths with unusual time signatures), Shimmer Pop (a Swedish cousin of indie pop and indietronica), and British Blues (the blues…with a British flavour).

Spotify has also done an assessment of “listening diversity,” – the number of artists the average user streams per month – which has risen on Spotify over the past 10 years, at an average of about 8% per year. In the past three years alone, listening diversity increased about 40% on the strength of new personalised and editorial playlists – meaning people are listening to an increased number of artists on a regular basis.

An official Decade of Discovery playlist features the most-streamed songs over the past  decade, including favourites like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” Rihanna’s “Work,” Sia’s “Chandelier,” Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” and the star-studded “Despacito Remix”.

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Festival taps into source code of African identity

The Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival enters its final week from 24 to 29 September with a special focus on gaming and beats. With the theme of “Tap Your Afro Source Code”, this year celebrates technology, creativity and innovation from across the African continent.

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Dr Tegan Bristow, Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival director, says that the theme centres on African visions of technology by tapping into the sources of African tradition and culture alongside technology, creativity and innovation: “This year we are exploring how local culture can move and change the future of technology. How would you understand and unpack the source code of your African identity?”

In its final week, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival explores music culture via the annual Beats Programme curated by WeHeartBeat, which will descend on the Tshimologong Precinct with a six-day takeover of Braamfontein’s tech hub. The program comprising of workshops, experiences and performances, facilitates the meeting of mind and spirit in an environment geared around the festival’s theme, “Tap Your Afro Source Code”.

The Fak’ugesi Beats Lab, running from the 24th to the 28th of September will host international electronic artists and explore the connection between music, technology and culture with local and international artists. The outcome from these sessions will result in an EP release, a short documentary and a live showcase performance at the Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party on the 29th. The artists featured in the 2018 Beats Lab are S.Fidelity (Switzerland), Zikomo (USA), Morena Leraba (Lesotho) and South African artists Bonj Mpanza  and Hlasko.

In partnership with Ballantines Whisky and Business Arts South Africa, the programme includes panels on: ‘The Future of Music’ facilitated by Tefo Mohapi from iAfrikan.com and featuring guest panellists Riky Rick and Thibaut Mullings; ‘Managing Health Amongst Creatives’ featuring psychologist Thembi Mashigo and panel guests Ayanda Seoka, Mx Blouse and more. The day will include a Masterclass with Black Milk (USA), The Art of Remixing with Zikomo(USA) and close with a ‘Power of Collaborations’ session featuring Zikomo, S.Fidelity , Morena Leraba and Bonj Mpanza.

The last week of Fak’ugesi Festival also hosts a special session on the Future of African Gaming on the 28th and 29th of September. A full day on gaming, this will take place in collaboration with Red Bull Basement and focus on the theme of Tech for Good. The programme includes an Indie Games Arcade; a ‘Games for Good’ workshop focused games that address issues in South African urban environment.

The workshop will be followed by a “Futures and Networking” session, inviting the gaming community in the Southern Africa region to contribute to an understanding of what and how the Fak’ugesi Festival can develop and better support African games. This invitation comes after Fak’ugesi Festival in 2018 says farewell to A MAZE. / Johannesburg, which has supported its program since 2013 as the gaming partner.

A MAZE, under the leadership of its creative director, Thorsten S. Wiedemann, linked the Johannesburg gaming scene to an international network of indie developers for six years from 2012 until 2017. The two-way bridge between A MAZE. / Berlin and A MAZE. / Johannesburg inspired other projects like Super Friendship Arcade in Cape Town and Glitch Face in Johannesburg and was a huge impetus in the development of the Game Design programme in the Wits School of Arts. When the Fak’ugesi Festival was established in 2013, A MAZE fell under Fak’ugesi Festival support as the gaming partner. Weidemann added: “It’s been amazing meeting, working and learning from the local and national game and playful media community.  We definitely made history together.”

The week’s activities culminate in a celebration at the Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party   on Saturday 29 September. This event will reignite the energy and spirit created at the inaugural party in a union of performance, music, technology and digital innovation. The Bloc Party aims to showcase the best in underground talent, both local and international – etching its name in the cultural textbooks as an inspiration to future generations of creators, producers and innovators. The second instalment of this ground-breaking event will host performances from the Beats Lab participants, as well as Black Milk and a strong local contingent including Langa Mavuso, Mx Blouse, Symatics + Ramz, and Micr.Pluto.

Tickets for Thursday 27 September are R50 per session and can be purchased via WeHeartBeat. There will be a limited run of R200 student tickets available for Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party, upon presentation of a valid student ID. Workshop and student tickets can be purchased throughout the week at the reception of the Tshimologong Precinct.

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