It's time to dig out your old Speak & Spell. Of course, the 1970s futuristic toy is comically outdated now that kids are glued to Nintendo DS and Xbox 360, but the playtime relic is still cutting-edge in one realm: music. Bent Festival, which takes place in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York, seeks to teach and demonstrate the art of circuit bending, by which a performer opens up a battery-operated toy, or other electronic noisemaker such as a drum machine, and bends the circuits to create a new sound the device was never meant to create. Typically the music created from old toys is rhythmic, ambient, and electronic (duh). The appeal of the way Bent is organized is that it's not designed like a typical music festival. Ticket holders don't simply watch their favorite artists perform, the artists at Bent teach the fans how to create music. Local circuit-bending wunderkinds Beatrix*JAR will be hosting B.Y.O. battery-operated toy workshops, showing novices how the duo creates its surreal and occasionally haunting sound. In addition to offering sessions informing newcomers about the craft, Intermedia Arts will host three days of classes for advanced artists and concerts by benders from all over America and Europe. $10 for most events; $25 for the entire festival; some events and classes are free. For a complete schedule of events visit www.bentfestival.org/#Minneapolis.
May 1-3, 2008