Beyond Digital is an artist project staged in Morocco in the summer of 2011, focusing on how creative adaptations of global digital technologies — such as the use of robotic vocal effect Auto-Tune in Berber folk music — are helping to transform youth culture and suggesting powerful alternatives to Western concepts of digital literacy. Initiated by artists Jace Clayton (aka DJ/rupture), Maga Bo and Taliesen Gilkes-Bower, Beyond Digital brought 8 American and Spanish artists to Casablanca for a month-long intensive period of research, production, and collaboration with Moroccan artists. The open-ended and interdisciplinary nature of the project took the crew from the busy streets of Casablanca to remote caves in the southern Anti-Atlas mountains. The Beyond Digital project results include video documentation, photography, experimental audio software based on non-Western ideas of music, photojournalism pieces, a toolbox of Moroccan percussion loops and more.
To get a better idea of Beyond Digital, this 9-minute “Behind-the-Scenes” video is a great place to begin:
With generous support from the Kindle Project, Kickstarter crowdsourcing, and Royal Air Maroc, the Beyond Digital team worked out of a two-story apartment in Casablanca for the month of June. We transformed the space into a work-center bustling with translators, local musicians, international visitors, and more. Our blog presents various members’ thoughts-in-progress from June. We partnered with Spanish cultural insitite Instituto Cervantes for 3 days of activities called “Beyond Digital presents,” including a free concert, talk, and photography workshop.
In September 2011, following up on one of the most exciting encounters from the June residency, three members of the Beyond Digital crew organized a week-long session of collaborative songwriting in Tangier with Imanaren’s bandleader, Hassan Wargui, and Clayton’s New York-based ensemble Nettle. The week culminated in a free open-air concert hosted by the Cinematheque de Tanger in the medina’s main square. Here is lyrical footage from our time there, set to “L’Avion”, one of the songs composed during that week and debuted at the concert:
Beyond Digital continues the process begun in 2011 by facilitating the worldwide release of some of our Moroccan collaborators’ albums in the US, organizing joint Imanaren – Nettle concerts in Europe, and planning further work in Morocco.
This is the essence of Beyond Digital’s mission: making space for meaningful encounters between artists of different media and from different contexts, and exploring the frictions and insights generated by these exchanges.