May 2018 saw the San Francisco host the first U.S. edition of the lauded arts and technology festival. As a founding partner and supporter of the US edition, we at West deeply believe that there is no more important place and time for MUTEK than San Francisco in 2018.
In the journey to becoming the undisputed global hub of innovation and technology, it’s important to be honest about what the Bay Area has also lost.
Neighborhoods famous for birthing art and literature movements, free love and political activism now make headlines for setting real estate records, tech bus congestion and the displacement of those unable to keep up with the cost of living.
But this isn’t about gentrification’s inevitable march. There is a much bigger point around the need for successful societies, communities, and companies to balance left and right brain agendas and engineer for a diversity of perspective. Culture without the intervention of technology will stagnate. And for technology to have meaning, it needs culture.
That is one of our core beliefs at West. It is also the founding premise of MUTEK, an international festival that now boasts 7 annual editions including Tokyo, Barcelona and its home, Montreal.
Over a year in the making, MUTEK.SF took place over 4 days and showcased a carefully curated roster of electronic music performances, audiovisual works, and panel discussions programmed to reflect a mix of the city’s technological innovation, intellectualism, and futurism. It chose underground pioneers over A-list talent, used venues like the Mint and the Cal Academy over the city’s more familiar music halls, and upheld a strict “no corporate sponsorship” policy, preferring the art to be enjoyed without the distraction of a sales pitch (or perhaps the reminder of “work”).
For the thousands who attended, it was evident that MUTEK.SF is something that the city sorely needs. Each event was a sanctuary where human and machine collaborated in the pursuit of expanding minds and triggering emotions, not scaling users.
It was an important and timely reminder that however powerful and pervasive the industry of technology might get, it is nothing when compared with the creative power and range of the human imagination.
West is proud to be involved in planning for the festival’s return to San Francisco in 2019.