MiRA festival, Barcelona’s autumn meeting for electronic music and visual arts lovers

MiRA, the Music and Audiovisual Research Festival of Barcelona, merges electronic music and visual arts with artists such as Lone, Actress, Dan Tombs, Julien Mier, Hyetal, Actop, Gnomalab and the Desilence Studio. The MiRA festival has been organised for a second year, after a very successful first event. Hosted in the former Fabra i Coats factory, this year the festival will increase its offerings and double the number of related workshops. The festival is Barcelona’s autumn’s must-see event for electronic music fans and visual arts lovers.

CNA / Pau Cortina

November 9, 2012 11:28 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- On Saturday the 10th of November, the Music and Audiovisual Research Festival of Barcelona, called MiRA, celebrates its second festival, with artists such as Lone, Actress, Dan Tombs, Julien Mier, Hyetal, Actop, Gnomalab, and the Desilence Studio. Organised for the first time last year in the former Fabra i Coats factory, MiRA will be repeated in the same location and has increased its offerings this year. MiRA has become, in just two years, autumn’s must-see event for electronic music fans and visual arts lovers. MiRA is an independent festival, organised by a group of young professionals lead by Oriol Pastor, the event’s director. The festival merges electronic music and visual arts, and it combines a festive mood with academic offerings, as parallel workshops are also organised. In fact, this year, MiRA has doubled the number of workshops, which have been in progress throughout the week. In addition, MiRA’s programme is made up of premiere shows, resulting from the collaboration between a DJ and an audiovisual artist.

The MiRA Festival was born in 2011, resulting from the desire to merge two disciplines that had traditionally been separated: visual arts and music. Oriol Pastor, the festival’s Director, shared his views with ACN a few days before the festival kicked off. They specifically did not want to hire artists who were already working together. MiRA’s objective, which is one of the event’s main attractions, is to have the artists work together for the first time and come to the festival with a world premiere show, combining music and visual arts. 

“The festival comes up with a selection of musicians (DJs, but not necessarily of dance music) and audiovisual artists. It then proposes that they collaborate, to work together for some months before the event, and present a new show at the festival”, summed up Pastor.

The result of these research and proposition tasks are a 10 hour programme, offering 11 different shows by musicians and videojockeys (VJs), 6 audiovisual sets, 2 installations and an interactive dance performance. Lone, Actress, Dan Tombs, Julien Mier, Hyetal, Actop, Gnomalab and the Desilence Studio are some of the artists invited to this year’s festival. In fact, the festival aims to combine internationally recognised artists with new talent. MiRA combines experience with risky offerings, showing creations never seen before. The director himself confessed that, when the people responsible for hiring presented him with the list, he “didn’t know 70% of them”. What MiRA wants is “the people to trust the festival’s criteria”, in order to make them discover new artists, who come with the festival’s quality label.

A greater festival

This year MiRA has grown. The €60,000 budget doubles that of last year, which was the first one. In addition, the space occupied has also grown, increasing from one to three rooms at the former Fabra i Coats factory. Besides, regarding the festival’s academic mission, MiRA has unveiled an entire week of workshops for music and audiovisual professionals, which have been developed by telenoika. 40 pupils have registered. In addition, workshops are running on the day of the festival. Finally, MiRA has unveiled a programme to backup three new talents, who will present their creations at the festival.

In fact, one of the missions of the festival is “spreading” these artistic disciplines, which are still only for a minority of connoisseurs. “We focus on exhibition”, said Pastor, “but we have plans to give education a greater role”.

Despite these efforts, organisers do not want large crowds at the festival, in order to allow the audience to have a pleasant experience. They are expecting around 1,400 attendees. In addition, the ambience will be quite different to that of the first event, as the festival wants to offer a different image each year.

“People will find a different distribution of screens and structures. The second room will surprise them with an unusual distribution of the classical spaces for the stage and the audience”, explained Pastor. MiRA’s ambience is based on 3 pillars: visual arts, screens and mappings, and the artists’ own visual creations.

Giving “visibility” to “a very atomised offering”

According to Pastor, the festival brings the added value of occupying a “niche” in Catalonia. MiRA’s Director values previous initiatives such as ‘New’ or ‘Miscel·lània’, as well as spaces devoted to avant-guard artists such as Hangar or the Nau Ivanov. However, he states that their goal was to “bring this to the broader public” and to give “visibility” to “a very atomised offering.”

With references such as Unsound in Poland or the LEV in Gijón, Pastor has not forgotten about Barcelona’s Sónar Festival. Sónar has given the Catalan capital the regular presence of top international artists working on electronic music and visual arts, he recognises. “We are the Sónar generation, and without their influence we would not be doing projects such as MiRA”, he stated. Pastor realises that MiRA is still very far away from these festivals, but he stated that “if everything goes as expected”, the festival could last two days next year. Slowly but firmly, MiRA could become the autumn’s alternative to Sónar, which is organised in Barcelona every June.