Time out for creatives

Keith Gallasch: Interview, George Hedon, Pause Fest 2014

Despite burgeoning interdisciplinarity and crossovers, the line between art and the creative industries over recent decades remains firmly etched in the cultural psyche. In our Art, Wellness & Death feature in RealTime 117, we profiled artists Efterpi Soropos and George Poonkhin Khut who are developing commercial applications of their creations to aid the dying and those in pain, without surrendering their sense of being artists. I have friends who would be labelled ‘creatives’ in the commercial world whose inventiveness surpasses that of many an artist but who bemoan their lack of artistic freedom given the narrow ambit of commercial design and other practices in Australia.

George Hedon, an art director for a Melbourne advertising agency, co-founded Pause Fest with Filip Nakic four years ago with a passion to “create a collective digital community,” bringing together creatives who might normally not mingle, let alone collaborate, from a wide range of industries engaged with digital technologies: “advertising, digital design, animation, production and post-production, as well as incubators and start-up communities.” I recently spoke with Hedon about the festival and its ambitions.

Hedon, who had no experience of running a festival, has grown the event by encouraging the generosity of speakers, pro bono support, in-kind donors and volunteers (some 30-60 per festival), such is the enthusiasm for the event. The response from the field has been strong, the scale of the festival grows and the City of Melbourne has proved financial support for the 2014 Pause Fest.

Pause Fest takes creatives outside their usual parameters, offering pause: time-out to meet, think and potentially collaborate. This year’s festival theme is “connections,” between individuals and industries. Hedon believes that the event has generated “a collective digital community” via “a non-profit event in which any income is put into the festival’s future.”

In our discussion there’s occasional telling slippage in terminology. When I ask Hedon how important it is for creatives to escape the boundaries of their professions, he answers, “It’s the most important thing: to be able to express yourself, in your artform, to explore your ideas and then apply yourself to a commercial world.” Do all the outcomes have to be commercial? “Everything ends up being commercial,” he replies. But it’s individual creativity and identity that counts: “You have to have your own signature before you go into the commercial.” Which is where Pause Fest offers succour. However, Hedon admits, “we’re sitting on a fence of what is commercial and what is art. We’re really pushing [the] art and technology [connection].”

It’s not surprising then that Hedon is particularly pleased with the festival’s interactive installations program. Ten works were short-listed and two chosen for realisation.
Three of the works are Australian, one is Polish. The brief was to create installations that would “engage a wide audience: adults, kids, families, the elderly.”

A key part of the Pause Fest program from inception is animation: the first encouraged collaborations between animators and sound designers around the world. Overseas makers, who mostly work in post-production and other areas of commercial production, are grateful for access to Pause Fest’s animation program, although Australians, says Hedon, are less eager, but are catching up. A very broad theme is set for the animators to apply to an otherwise “blank canvas.” Last year the theme was “the future,” which resulted in “some very dark work. It’s a happy theme this year.” The works will be screened at ACMI, on Federation Square’s big screen and online.

Pause Fest has an extensive program of talks and forums to which has been added for the first time an intriguingly titled event, PanicRoom. Hedon explains it’s the creation of PostPanic, a post-production company in Amsterdam founded by its Creative Director Mischa Rozema, a keynote speaker at this year’s festival. PanicRoom gatherings, explains Hedon, “are not about making speeches or talking about the work. They are interested in everything else: what creative people like, what their influences are, their experiences, their favourite music—who they are and what makes them tick.” PanicRoom will feature Australian creatives, revealing dimensions that feed their creativity in a four-day Pause Fest that will buy them some liberating time-out.

2014 Pause Fest, ACMI and Federation Square, Melbourne, 13-16 Feb, www.pausefest.com.au

RealTime issue #118 Dec-Jan 2013 pg. 26

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

9 December 2013
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