Houston, Texas, US // filmed Dec 2016 // published Dec 2017
Cue hosting the Super Bowl LI, historic Hurricane #Harvey, Irma and Maria that caused massive flooding and damage in Texas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and countless other places our friends and families live. We all ended up either under water, under the sun, or under the dirt. Many of us are still re-building or helping others re-build. Not just our homes but our lives.
While walking the grounds of the largest emergency disaster relief shelter in Houston, run by @BakerRipley, we also heard the President (who had just visited the shelter the day prior) killed DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy that affects about 800,000 individuals in the US—124,000 of which are in Texas and around 80,000 reported by the Houston Chronicle to be in Houston. The Dream Act, “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act”, which is overdue a name change along with its equally defunct dictionary definition, “alien”, continues to fail to become law.
#MeToo brought thousands if not hundreds of thousands of women like me out of the shadows and threw sexual harassers/assaulters into the spotlight. The tables turned. Houston won the World Series. @SaintRecords busted out with “A Seat at the Table” from her new home in New Orleans. (She’ll be part of this year’s Day for Night.)
So this time last year, when @WonkyPower called to invite us out to year two of Day for Night in Houston—bet we were there.
If you’re not familiar with Day for Night, imagine indoor, outdoor and in-between spaces where art, music, lights, sounds, physical and digital immersive experiences happen to you—back to back.
“Day for Night continues to surpass the limits of exploring the boundaries of light, space, and sound...”
...says Marlene Rivera, Street Team Manager of Day for Night. Marlene is one of 17 core Houston team members who are organizing this year’s fest.
I met Marlene 10 months ago by chance at an unrelated event at NASA Johnson Space Center back in February. NASA had invited a few social media professionals out to meet and interview astronauts, engineers, scientists, managers and a whole crew of people at NASA. While walking through Mission Control Center, literally between looking into space, feeling moon rocks and interviewing astronauts, Marlene told me about how she had just come on board the Day for Night team, managing social media. Now this year she’s managing the street team.
When I ask Marlene what she’s most excited about at this year’s fest, she tells me she’s “thrilled to see the art installations of Playmodes” and she’s a huge fan of Jamie xx, artists participating in this year’s festival.
I instagram @PlaymodesStudio. They’re an audiovisual research studio team of artists, designers, musicians and engineers from Barcelona who integrate science with creative methodologies to make audio-visual works of art. Imagine art made of light, brought to life by sounds and code.
Then I search @jamie__xx, an “English musician, DJ, record producer and remixer” according to Wikipedia. Take that for what it’s worth. He has no bio on his website or instagram account. All actions lead to his music. Touché.
But Marlene also mentions something that makes me smile,
“I'm curious to experience the energy of Cardi B.”
@iamcardib is the controversial female rapper born and raised in the Bronx of New York. She’s half Trinidadian and half Dominican. Although some (a majority men) dog her for her rough past, hood-grown and hip hop loving women everywhere started following her in droves about 6 months ago when she released, “Bodak Yellow”, making her the second-ever female rapper to lead the Billboard Top 100 chart with a solo—no features. The last time that happened was almost 20 years ago when Lauren Hill released “Doo Wop (That Thing)”. People can hate her, but there’s no denying that anytime Cardi B comes on in public, no matter who I’m with, women know the words and we do get down as appropriately as the situation allows.
I too am curious to experience Cardi B around a crowd full of women who will surely be tuning out the inevitable grunts from the guys (and to be fair, the girls) who aren’t fans. She’s definitely not catering to everyone and that’s more than okay.
Flashback to Day for Night year one—the inaugural year at Silver Street Studios with the outdoor carpet. Anyone who was there remembers the outdoor carpet. It was one of my favorite parts of the festival. I was sad to see it go in year 2. Will year 3 bring it back? Wishful thinking but hey, it did snow in Texas—anything is possible.
The carpet was in front of the main stage outside. We could all sit cleanly on the floor like civilized adults. And we were—civilized adults. College professors, musicians, content creators, poets, artists, entrepreneurs and students. We were all enjoying the beautiful, chilly, daytime weather in our hoodies, beanies and sunglasses.
I saw a young asian guy who appeared to be in his late teens or early twenties, sitting down indian-style reading a book. I saw a childhood friend I hadn’t seen since the 4th grade. Sitting with one of my husband’s exes. I saw a client our team recently had to break up with. A college musician friend I graduated with 3 years prior. Our partners in the creative, music, art and education scenes. It was such a magic carpet where everything was clean, people used the trash cans and of course, we got to hang out with our friends.
There were huge warehouse spaces that were beautiful during the day and completely dark at night, beaming programmed light patterns across the room to the pattern of purposeful sounds and silence. @NONOTAKstudio. VOLUME. 19,375 sq feet. The largest installation I’ve ever seen (pictured below, video clip linked). It was their first appearance at Day for Night 2015.
Their work is also featured in the video at the top of this piece—the shot with the people standing in front of the mirror and lights, including “little red riding hood”.
I found out later that little red riding hood turned out to be a friend whom we hadn’t recognized under the red hood—visual artist, Alex Ramos, who recently shared via instagram,
“DFN 2016 changed my life, got me on the path to learning @touchdesigner which led me on a path looking at life through new lenses.”
Year 2, last year, brought us to the Barbara Jordan Post Office, a historic building “designed by the same architects as the Houston Astrodome”—according to the Day for Night website.
There was an immersive virtual reality experience with @Bjork which I missed because I didn’t know there was a waiting list prior to deciding to finally stand in the line on the last evening. That was my fail. I heard it was amazing.
There was also Houston artist, Limb, pictured below. His work is featured as the background audio track in the video at the top of this piece. He co-created an experience with lights, sounds and everyone else in the room. It was said that if someone walked or moved in front of one of many sensors placed around the space, the experience would change. The music he played, the light, sound, movement, the space and the people in the space were all connected, changing the environment.
Perhaps the highlight of our weekend was Wonky Power inviting us to hang out in the Deep Eddy Vodka lounge, a private space turned chill spot where artists were being interviewed and magical connections were being made. We ended our weekend at the post office there...never mind the after party adventures.
This year on the radar at Day for Night:
It’s been a rough year for Houston. Day for Night always makes it better.
Written, photographed, filmed, edited and experienced by Jessica Bolaños Vanegas // @FancyCapitalist
VIDEO TEXT: I spent the entire first day with the art. The installations, people watching, trying to make sense of it all. The experiences, the people, our obessions... Caught Travis Scott, Kaskade, and played in all that damn confetti. You goin this year? // Music by Limb, Day for Night Artist 2016 // Featured Artists Tundra, NONOTAK, LIMB, Damien Echols, AV&C + Vincent Houzé and Alex Czetwertynski