Sliders + Brain + Knobs + Buttons + Soul + Touchscreens + History = Art

In the land where every last quark of creative artistic energy is, or is soon to be culture-mined and commodified, to experience authentic human expression is a gift. And that, by the way, is why Burning Man still matters, but also why it was so awesome to see novaTRON last Friday night at Lo-Fi, in one of the dozens of shows that made up this year’s Decibel Festival.

The scene at Lo-Fi was neither pretentious nor cloying, with nothing to prove, but lots to give, not trying relive the past, but drawing heavily from it and recasting it through a contemporary lens; a happening that was comfortable in its own skin, confident about its relevance in the present moment.

novaTRON’s ax is that pile of plastic boxes and wires shown in the photo above, a relatively new species of musical instrument. And though it’s an instrument born of cutting-edge, silicon chip technology, and is “played” with a technique totally alien to traditional music, it’s as capable of producing art as any conventional musical instrument. Where it matters, it is really no different from a digeridoo, a structurally simple but sonically and culturally complex instrument made from eucalyptus branches hollowed out by termites–thanks to a few billion years of evolution.

The concentration of human energy that occurs in cities has always been a potent catalyst for the creation of new ideas and expression. It’s inspiring to witness evidence that this fruitful process is still operative, even in U.S. cities where isolationism has been creeping into urban communities for decades.