Supernova Outdoor Digital Animation Festival recognizes six artists with $6,500 in cash prize money for their achievements in the annual Juried Competition, first ever Student Competition and new Invitational Program.
The 2018 edition of Reality Bytes - Supernova Digital Animation Festival delivered a full-scale immersion in digital animation and art on public LED screens throughout the core of Downtown Denver, Colorado on September 22nd, alongside a widespread program of community collaborations and artwork exhibitions. This year’s festival benefitted from enormous traffic coursing through the downtown, resulting from the city’s continuing surge as a tourist destination as well as popular ventures coinciding with the festival such as Doors Open Denver and The Great American Beer Festival. The addition of perfect weather and enthusiastic artists all added up to a watershed year for the singular arts-program, with many of the festival’s prestigious collaborations continuing to draw audiences post-festival.
The core of the engine that inspires Supernova’s expansive international participation network are exclusive competitions that allow artists to present work to the public in the most unique, dynamic ways. Besides the fifteen artists singled out for the annual competition program, simultaneously delivered in the open-air theatre assembled in the Denver Performing Arts Complex Galleria as well as the 14th and Champa LED display, Supernova initiated two new competitions that operated in more experimental and situational capacities in the most heavily trafficked area along the 16th Street Mall. The new Invitational Competition brought together 32 digital animations created by artists from around the world for multiple rotations on the dynamic two-faced LED Screen at 16th and Arapahoe, featuring a campaign for anyone watching to vote for their favorite throughout the day. The screen also hosted the first ever Colorado Student Animation Competition, also screening multiple times and with a major cash prize determined by an International leader in contemporary animation. All combined, Supernova allocated $6,500 in prize money for the competitions, defining awards that are extremely rare in the burgeoning field of digital animation.
The only unfortunate drama at this year’s Supernova was the last-minute cancellation of invited juror Max Hattler, a previous Supernova participant and award winner based in Hong Kong. Hattler was unable to receive his ESTA status to enter the United States, due to increasingly restrictive, archaic policies governing travel into the United States by non-citizens. The festival adapted readily by bringing Rick Dailey on board, a local curator with the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design who has honed a tremendous level of expertise in new-media contemporary art during his tenure at the Phillip J. Steele Gallery and Aspen’s Anderson Ranch over the last several years. Dailey joined Berlin based artist Robert Seidel and NYC’s Katie Torn to round out the trio of professionals who would deliver the festival’s three major awards, along with an honorable mention. A second honorable mention was determined by Supernova Director Ivar Zeile. Visiting artist Jonathan Monaghan was asked to determine the winner of the inaugural Colorado Student Animation Competition, having spent the previous week in Denver for the opening of his solo exhibition “Synthetic Mythologies” at RMCAD, which also facilitated a robust slate of student critiques for the artist. All together, it was a highly notable group once again for the festival that brought their individual passions for the medium to bear on this year’s awards, which were announced for the first time at the Festival’s concluding party inside Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
Supernova Digital Animation Festival’s 2018 awards were presented as follows:
An Honorable Mention $250 cash award in the focal Competition program to UK artist John Butler for his 18 minute short “The Dependency Loop.”
An Honorable Mention $250 cash award in the focal Competition program to Baltimore, Maryland artist Eli Ayres for his 5 minute short “Ackerman - In Flux.”
Third Place $1,000 cash award and Supernova 3d printed trophy in the focal Competition Program to Denver, Colorado artist Ryan Wurst for his 4 minute short “Don’t Make Out.”
Second Place $1,500 cash award and Supernova 3d printed trophy in the focal Competition Program to New York City artist Sean Capone for his 11 minute short “The Sky Report.”
First Place Grand Prize $2,000 cash award and Supernova 3d printed trophy in the focal Competition Program to Indianapolis, Indiana artist Jeron Braxton for his 6 minute short “Octane.”
Audience Prize $1,000 cash award in the Invitational competition to Denver, Colorado artist Ryan Wurst for his 54 second composition “Work It.”
Top Prize $500 cash award in the Colorado Student Animation Competition to Marisa Volino representing CU Denver College of Arts & Media for her 12 second composition “Moon Animation.”
The 2018 awards represent artists that are quickly being recognized on a wider scale through digitally conceived works that explore the infinite boundaries that are inherent to the medium, yet comfortably straddle traditional precedents in motion-based and other artforms. 23 year old emerging artist Jeron Braxton’s grand prize follows quickly on the heels of his recent recognition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where he garnered the best short film award for “Glucose,” a work that had previously screened at Supernova 2017 in the Real-life Alternate Realities program. Noted simply by the artist as “A man engages in a race thru hell and back that parallels America's dark past,” Braxton’s work is socially urgent, reflecting heavily on conditions that plague inner cities such as his hometown’s, as well as much broader constructs that are undoubtedly on everyone’s mind. That he is able to do so in such a captivating manner, using stylized characters and symbology that speaks directly to his generation, is remarkable, and good reason why he is getting notice at such a young age. Braxton’s unique flow and self constructed soundtrack combine for a total vibe that catapluts the viewer forward with a distinct, eye-grabbing urgency.
Third place award winner Ryan Wurst is also of a new, seriously talented generation of artists that embraces technological wizardry and the endless creativity that results through constant exploration. One of the first PhD candidates in Sonic Arts within the prestigious art department at CU Bouder, Wurst reflects on the most dulled attributes of America’s hive-minded culture, mutating his figures with a playfullness that’s hard not to embrace. His work plumbs numerous angles associated with digital capabilities, maintaining a coherent focus while expanding his own skills with each new work. Happening upon “Don’t Make Out” is the kind of experience that makes one pinch themselves as if in wonder that what’s before them is actually taking place. That Wurst also pulled off the audience award for his infectious, made-for-the-screen composition “Work it” is of little surprise, and serious recognition considering the depth and caliber of the other thirty-one works involved in the inaugural Invitational Competition.
New York artist Sean Capone has been focused almost solely on motion-art’s ability to operate effectively in the public realm, using a wide range of abstract techniques to incredible effect. He is equally well-versed in the broader constructs of digital animation, pursuing his own practice of published dialogue with renowned contemporary artists that intersect in the field. Capone’s slow-burning, gorgeous entry ‘The Sky Report,” is an ever-evolving digital drawing created from various computer-generated mark-making systems. The palimpsest of strokes, scribbles and calligraphic flourishes evokes a range of visual associations, from Abstract Expressionism to graffiti, from musical notation to baroque ornament. It’s a report that certainly resonates as Supernova’s second place award winner, and the kind of work one longs to have permanently embedded to a city skyline.
As in both previous festivals, two Honorable Mentions were announced from the competition program. The jurors recognized veteran UK animator John Butler for his 18 minute narrative fascination “The Dependency Loop” with one of the awards, and Festival Director Ivar Zeile gave a second to Baltimore, Maryland based animator Eli Ayres for “Ackerman - In Flux,” the emerging artist’s radical update on Kubrik’s masterpiece “2001 a Space Odyssey.” Both animations delivered a visual punch fully amplified by the unique integration with LED in the public context, as is the case with numerous works found throughout Supernova.
CU Denver student Marisa Volino’s simple 12 second composition “Moon Animation” caught the attention of guest juror Jonathan Monaghan during its presentation in the inaugural Student Animation Competition, presented throughout the day on September 22nd. Monaghan, whose own work is unbelievably complex and intellectually dense, noted in his award choice that “The Student Competition was very strong and it was very difficult to pick a winner. There was clearly, however, one work that stood out, but not for the reasons one may think. It wasn't colorful or flashy, and it was in fact quite short. Volino’s ”Moon” stood out for its elegance and simplicity, which is often harder to do well.“ This aspiring artist’s award winning composition will maintain a post-Supernova position on the 16th and Arapahoe double-sided screen for an extended time, along with additional selections from Supernova’s newest competitions, promoting the concept that digital animation can readily engage the public through ongoing display on Denver’s screens.
Supernova “Reality Bytes” continues to enrich Denver, Colorado this fall on downtown screens as well as within numerous interior settings through exhibitions supported by Supernova’s prominent community partners. This year’s wide offering provides an extensive immersion in digital animation, new-media art and experiences that were unimaginable just a few years ago, capitalizing on the depth Denver Digerati has developed since the project’s inception in 2011. Remaining active through the next couple of weeks are “Tarnish,” Berlin-based video projection-pioneer Robert Seidel’s immersive visuals presented inside a space-warping environment that fully engulfs downtown project space Understudy (through September 29), as well as “Vacation and Other Remedies,” a radical reel of animations created by budding Russian artist Andrey Kasay, looping daily within the Idea Box on the 3rd floor of the MCA Denver (through October 7th).
A wide range of rare, impressive contemporary art exhibitions will be ongoing this fall season into November, including Supernova’s major centerpiece “Reality Bytes,” presented at RedLine Contemporary Art Center (through November 4); Jonathan Monaghan “Synthetic Mythologies” at RMCAD’s Phillip J. Steele Gallery (through November 17); and Aram Bartholl “Your Shopping Cart is Empty” at CU Denver’s Emmanuel Art Gallery (through November 17). In addition, the Denver Performing Arts Complex centrally located gallery NXT STG integrates animation by Supernova Solo Spotlight Artist Jack Wedge into their Meow Wolf themed vibe on an ongoing basis.
THE ONLY FESTIVAL DEDICATED TO DIGITAL ANIMATION
Denver Digerati, along with the Denver Theatre District, Denver Arts and Venues and a host of additional sponsors, present “Reality Bytes,” the third edition of SUPERNOVA Outdoor Digital Animation Festival taking place September 14th - 23rd in Downtown Denver, Colorado. The only forum of its kind in the world to focus exclusively on the convergence of technology and animation, SUPERNOVA is a singular, dynamic example of innovation in art merging with the public sector. Each year the festival hosts an all-day education forum, art exhibitions and other special events to bookend an entire day of public screenings taking place on large-scale L.E.D. screens situated in the heart of Denver, including a special temporary LED screen located in the Denver Performing Arts Complex outdoor Galleria. SUPERNOVA programming defines what is current in digital animation today, presenting works by visionary animators who apply advanced technology in thrilling ways. Emerging artists and seasoned veterans are all celebrated at the festival, which boasts $5,000 in prize money to top winners in the festival’s Juried Competition. Artists from anywhere in the world have through July 15th to submit up to two animations for consideration through SUPERNOVA’s entry portal on Film Freeway. An additional $1,500 in prize money is being introduced this year for a Student Competition, currently open only to Colorado-based animators, and the festival’s first Invitational program, highlighting artists who have been previously involved in the festival and Digerati related events. A robust slate of community collaborations centered on digital art practices will also take place throughout Denver leading up to and during the week of the festival, making SUPERNOVA a robust experience for locals and visitors to engage with.
SUPERNOVA 2018 continued the tradition of bringing on board three distinguished jurors to enhance the growing prestige of the festival. Max Hattler (Hong Kong), Katie Torn (NYC) and Robert Seidel (Berlin) will be our guests in Colorado this year as presenters in an all-day education forum, participants in the festival’s core and auxiliary programming, and to select cash prize awards ranging between $250 - $2,000 USD in the festival competition. The three jurors have been chosen for their pioneering work within the fields of new media, contemporary art and digital motion graphics on an international level as well as their previous involvement with Denver Digerati, whether as SUPERNOVA award winners or participants in over six years of our ongoing programming.
SUPERNOVA commenced in 2016 as a singular example of innovation within an urban context, promoting a relaxed and rewarding visual experience like no other for free to the public. Digerati’s partners and sponsors are some of the leading advocates for arts within Denver’s greater cultural community, and our impressive artist network spans the globe. The festival’s encompassing theme “Reality Bytes” for 2018 was selected as a reflection of current times, both playful and ominous, exquisitely shaped through practitioners of animation and art around the world today.
For a deeper view of the project and Denver Digerati’s greater history, visit denverdigerati.com
SUPERNOVA is presented by Denver Digerati and made possible through the support of the Denver Theatre District, Denver Arts & Venues, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Meow Wolf, Understudy, Exclusive Education Partner CU Denver College of Arts & Media, Museum of Outdoor Arts, Colorado Office of Film Television & Media, Orange Barrel Media, Branded Cities, WeedenLaw and Kristin Stransky. Community affiliations and collaborations in 2018 include MCA Denver Teens, RedLine, Denver Film Society, CU Boulder Sonic Arts, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, Museum of Outdoor Arts Cricket Cinema and Crush Walls. SUPERNOVA also supports the summer-long exhibition “Pixelated” at Denver Botanic Gardens.
LATEST FESTIVAL RELATED PRESS
Guest Artist Robert Seidel on Supernova and the lineage of Digital Animation, Susan Froyd, Westword, September 21, 2018
Supernova Director’s Picks: Ivar Zeile on the Best of the Best, Susan Froyd, Westword, September 19, 2018
Hello Denver, My Name is Ryan Wurst, Cori Anderson, 303 Magazine, September 18, 2018
Colorado Creatives: Ryan Wurst, Susan Froyd, Westword, September 17, 2018
VP 003: BENEFITS OF BEING UNCOMFORTABLE WHILE STAYING TRUE TO YOURSELF, Heather Crank Interview, The Vitalic Project, September 13, 2018
Supernova brings boundary-pushing animated art to downtown Denver’s massive LED screens, Ray Mark Rinaldi, Denver Post “The Know,” September 13, 2018
PREVIOUS PRESS RAVES FOR SUPERNOVA!
“SUPERNOVA Outdoor Festival of Digital Animation and Art is one of the few Denver film festivals exclusively programming short films at the cutting edge of technology. This free festival, held in and around the Denver Theatre District, democratizes the movie-going experience, giving audiences a look into the future of the medium. Running an entire weekend, SUPERNOVA includes a juried competition, educational opportunities, presentations by filmmakers, and outdoor screenings of artist-made movies from around the world. This year, the festival's third, promises to be as forward-thinking and fun as ever.” - Best of Denver / Westword, 2018
“Some of the pieces resemble elaborate screensavers or moments plucked from a video game, while others would be at home in an animated film festival. Some are accompanied by music, narration, and sound effects, others are perfectly silent. Some will make you smile, and some will make you scratch your head. Capturing their similarities would be no easier than quickly comparing Kandinsky, Rothko, Dali, and de Kooning, whose work led to plenty of head scratching in their day." - Digital Animation: Fine Art’s Next Frontier? / Modern In Denver, June 27, 2017
“I liken it to a drive-in movie theater right in the heart of downtown,” Supernova director Ivar Zeile says. “There’s so much traffic going through there, we really like the idea that the exposure comes to those that are not suspecting it to be there.” The festival includes music videos, abstract works and even a block of kid-friendly films. - Denver’s Supernova Fest Brings The Drive-In Theater Experience To Downtown / Corey H. Jones, Colorado Public Radio, September 20, 2017