I’ve just arrived in Chicago for MGFest, the motion graphics festival, kicking off its five-city tour of America. (Side note. The good news for the rest of you not in Chicago: this means over the next few days (and early into next week) I’m finally getting some additional resources on learning Processing for the sold-out workshop I teach Saturday. I’m looking forward to having all of that posted!)

Above: Michael Una playing 2008’s MGFest Bent Festival, but let’s make him the unofficial Digital Druid mascot of Sunday night, anyway.

If you’re not in Chicago and you see work on the schedule you’d like me to cover for the rest of the planet, just let me know. Check out the Chicago calendar.

For some background on the event and an interesting take from its founder Mason Dixon, see Time Out Chicago:

Deeply moving images

He’s got something to say about the scene and Chicago in particular. Substitute your city in this description, and I think you’ll see the potential. (Hey, we could do better even in New York.) And keep in mind, Mason doesn’t just mean motion reels for broadcast ads – he’s talking live visuals, VJs, and interactive art, too – just the stuff we love.

The designer hopes his event demonstrates that New York and L.A. aren’t the only industry hubs. Once you consider motion graphics in media other than film, Dixon says, “Chicago is much more of a center. We have three out of the ten largest advertising firms in the world; I would suggest that there’s going to be a huge influx of business for them. But they’re going to have to look a little outside of their traditional boundaries, at emerging mediums.”

I also enjoy the opening line, “How can Mason Dixon believe the online-media industry is “going to do great” in 2009?” Of course, a changing world can be ideal for new opportunities in making media, even in a stormy climate.

Here’s what’s in the event itself:

Saturday night is a big showcase of installation work and screened motion from Negativland and Addictive TV and many others – Michael Una will even have his Beep-It Theremin. Check out the full description.

Sunday, there’s a big audiovisual showcase at the Chicago Cultural Center. CDM contributor Michael Una and I are playing live A/V sets as part of a terrific lineup the MGFest crew have assembled:

  • Vir Unis, electroacoustic composer, AtmoWorks co-founder, ambient radio star (Hearts of Space, Echoes, and Star’s End), and sound designer (Sony Creative Loop Libraries)
  • Stoptime 341 doing “the itch inside all of us who live in a city that holds temptations more potent than dreams, guilty pleasure in the darkened corners of night.” Ah, so you go on late night doughnut runs, too? (Stoptime do some fantastic live video and club work, including an acclaimed Tiesto collaboration)
  • Merkaba, live video work for theater and many other good things
  • Ontologist, terrific music on self-programmed software
  • Glen Stephani, a member of the Psymbolic crew and a great representation of what Chicago has to offer (caught Glen’s work the last time I was here)

What’s great about this, too, is the strong local connections; it’s about time more hotspots in the visualist scene evolve.

Video Band: The 2009 Visual Performance Showcase [mgfest event page]