Funkhaus, Berlin
5 May

It’s fitting that a festival borne out of the intersections between music, technology and digital communication is set in the Funkhaus.

The colossal venue, located out in the deep east of Berlin, has always had its roots firmly set in the process of communication; as the original sound studio of the East Germany GDR communist state, this is where the GDR created, produced and distributed their radio broadcasts to their citizens. The insides of the building resemble something similar to a mid-century labyrinth; the clean-cut, modern architecture is pristinely kept, encircled by the host of doors that lead to barren staircases that seem to go up endlessly. It’s this juxtaposition that characterises MIRA Festival: the old and the new, and the organic and the manufactured.

Now in its second edition in Berlin, MIRA – originally founded in Barcelona in 2011 – brought an eclectic line-up, featuring audiovisual shows in both traditional and non-traditional formats, digital art installations, 3D and 4D sound shows, presentations and educational workshops. Swiss DJ Aïsha Devi’s live A/V show was an exercise in tension and space; with a self-shot distorted projection of her exploring what looked like sacred temple ruins, her live shrill vocals tentatively carried her industrial ambient sound, making it clear that the she was more about creating an atmosphere than anything else. Somewhat contrastingly, elusive experimentalist Yves Tumor’s A/V performance seemed all about the sound; his blend of R&B grooves with warped, dissonant noise took centre stage, allowing for the visual backdrop to fade into the background. In the main foyer, Christian Len’s DJ set spanned across disco, deep house and lo-fi techno gems, all blending seamlessly into what turned out to be a festival highlight.

While MIRA Festival’s jump to Berlin – arguably one of the most progressive and engaged music and tech hubs in the world – was a necessary move, it felt as though the festival as a whole was drowned out by the noise made by their counterparts. Still, their merits for creating a platform for both established and emerging artists, digital innovation and open thought don’t go unnoticed – at its core, MIRA is a festival pushing the boundaries of communication, and that still rung true.