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Celebrating art and electronic music at What the Festival

Updated on August 15, 2016

An outdoors art and music festival such as What the Festival sounds like paradise. Imagine spending three days celebrating the summer solstice on Wolf Run Ranch, 250-acre Oregon ranch located about 90 miles east of Portland, Oregon. The natural beauty of Mt. Hood National Forest intermingles with the interactive art displays and the electronic music for a truly immersive experience.

What the Festival 2016
What the Festival 2016 | Source

Curating festival art

Upon initial glance, the visual art installations that help define What the Festival (WTF) appears to be disorganized, disjointed and at times, disparate and maybe even dismembered. But in my email conversation with Lydia Buesseler, Art Curator conducted prior to WTF 2016, I learned there is a method to the madness in capturing this chaos and creativity. Following is our exchange about the art that makes this festival fly.

How are the artworks selected for inclusion at What the Festival?

What The Festival has an open application period from December to the end of March where artists can submit their ideas. Over four months Glen, the Art Director, and myself, the Art Curator and I look over all of the applications and accept them on a rolling basis. We consider a wide variety of factors in our applications, such as the look and feel of the art piece in both the day and night, the experience of the artist and the fit of the art piece with What The Festival overall. While we have a wide variety of 2D art, we both have experience in creating interactive art so our preference tends to be a bit biased towards pieces that festival guests can participate with.

Which exhibits excite you the most?

Since this is my first year in this position there are a lot of new artists that I am bringing on board and cannot wait to showcase. One of these is Human Amplified Relationship Research Tool (HARRT) build by Hole in the Ground Design. This crew is based out of the Bay and is coming up to What The Festival for the first time. Their creating a giant (20x20') tension mounted structure that will serve as a lounge in the daytime and an interactive projection pavilion in the evening, as it's white stretch fabric walls will be covered with all sorts of visuals for participants to play with.

I'm also really excited for Cosmic Playground, a collaboration by Damien Gilley, Escape Collective, Blackbelt Studio and Savory Events. This is a four dome interactive experience with each dome representing a different sensory experience. We'll also have a sound workshop held there and a sunrise Sunday (late Saturday night) party by the Grilled Cheese Disco.

What the Festival 2016
What the Festival 2016 | Source

Festival Preparation

However, before one can experience nirvana, one needs to deal with the practical reality of packing for a pack-in/pack-out festival.

Here's a list of practical suggestions so one can prepare to party without panicking.

Check out the temperatures at the destination and then choose one's clothing accordingly. For example, the temperature at the ranch can heat up during the day but will definitely get chilly at night. Pack along shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, tanks, sun hat and sunglasses to stay cool when it heats up. But then for the evening add on a warm hat, jacket and long pants. Be sure to count the number of days for the festival and bring along enough underwear and socks to last untill the end. While one may want to be stylish, bear in mind that a festival like this will involve considerable walking. So pack along a pair of shoes that can keep one standing and dancing all day and into the night.

For a place like WTF? that has a Splash Pool Party, pack along a bathing suit and a pair of flip-flops. Also bring along any beach toys like beach balls. Also, a bandana or scarf can help wipe off sweat or keep one cool when doused in water. Don't forget the sunscreen.

Add on a backpack to carry around all one's needed items during the day. Be sure to pack along with one's cellphone along with any portable chargers in case one needs to recharge. For those desiring high resolution pictures and video, consider bringing along a camera or videocamera. Don't forget to add in a water bottle to keep one hydrated and a headlamp or flashlight to ensure one can make it to one's campsite when night falls.

Next comes the issue of what camping gear to bring. Here's some suggested items to pack along. The basic essentials include a tent with a sleeping back and pillow.

More adventurous types can get a hammock though there's no guarantee one can find the perfect tree. Don't forget extra blankets to ensure one can stay warm when the weather chills. Bringing along a tarp can help divert any rain and excessive heat. Camp chairs can provide respite for those wanting to relax at the campsite.

Pack along a totem pole or another large identifying marker so one can find their campsite late at night without too much difficulty.

Microfiber and other fast drying towels can soon become one's best festival friend. Those who choose not to pay for the onsite showers may wish to bring along personal wipes, dry shampoo or other means to keep oneself clean sans water. Other toiletries to bring include a toothbrush and toothpaste, extra toilet paper (marine TP or single ply is easier on the pumpers), hand sanitizer, and as applicable, add tampons and condoms.

Even if a festival like WTF? has a full medical facility, consider packing along a personal first aid kit so one can treat a headache or a simple cut on one's own. Along those lines, be sure to pack any medication and other medical necessities needed for the duration of the festival.

A festival like WTF? has enough vendors that one doesn't need to pack any additional food and beverages. However, one can save money by bringing along A cooler to store chilled beverages (no glass bottles) can double up as a little table for your camp site too. Also pack along a reusable water container as many festivals have free water fill-up stations.

Before packing along a camp stove or other cooking gear, check to see the festival's guidelines for cooking. For example, at WTF, camp stoves are only allowed in then community kitchen areas.

Finally, bring along trash bags to ensure that one leaves no trace of their weekend fun behind.

What the Festival 2016
What the Festival 2016 | Source

For more information

Log on to the What the Festival website for information about future What the Festivals.

What the Festival 2016
What the Festival 2016 | Source


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