Musing from a Digital Utopia in Hull

2015-01-20 10.19.33To Hull (a city rightly proud of its newly won status as City of Culture 2017) for #artsdigital ‘Digital Utopias‘.

This was an event that was asking big questions. How does culture respond to a world where we live our lives in public such an extreme way?, a world where technology is changing the way we understand and relate to each other,a world which is increasingly mediated by a piece of glass and plastic in our hands?

Arts Council chair @peterbazalgette kicked proceedings off stating ACE’s three pronged interest in digital – as a means of creating art, as a means of distributing art and as a way of collecting and sharing ‘big’ data. [the following tweet became the most retweeted of the session….but for the naysayers among you @erocdrahs had a very funny counter slide).

bg dataWhat excites me personally is the cross over between the first two of the Arts Council’s areas of focus, where, I believe there is much to be explored, and much – to use Baz’s phrase – reaped. Adventures, if you like, in many dimensions.

In his whistle stop tour through internet art history Morgan Quaintance talked about (the current) post internet art being reductive and superficial (‘insular, standardised and fairly predictable’). Quaintance looked forward to a new world, a new ‘fiction, which drew in the spectator, connecting with its audience, lifting them out of the mundane online existence, recognising the cross over and differences – and even blurring the lines – between on line and offline realities.

Away from the theory @sarahnellis (Head of Digital Development RSC) spoke about the need to connect the live and online experiences, that we are in a continual phase of experimentation where it is as important (if not more important) to ask the right questions than to have solutions. This in turn echoed @ruthmackenzie (of @TheSpaceArts) ‘s earlier, refreshingly honest and open statement ‘we are all making this up as we go along….we haven’t found perfect’. There was some musing at the cost of this experimentation, or iterative, R and D.

2015-01-20 16.11.35There were hints of what a post internet world might look like – in presentations from Extant (on flatland.org.uk) references to projects like National Theatre Wales BorderGames (no presentation though), the work of @iainsimons at Game City (bringing the human into games) and in the subversive playful use of algorithm tech by @erocdrahs.

And hints too at how we might get there. The delightful MolMol from YesYesNo challenged the audience to make lo-fi projects that bring people joy (and if the audience reaction was anything to go by the talking shoes and water fountain did do just that). Others urged us to be both playful and disruptive, to be ambitious, and imaginative, to take our audience with us and not to be afraid of failure. Let the idea lead the technology……oh and follow @bffbot1 (if she hasn’t been suspended!)

Other links and resources mentioned throughout the day

Speaker Profiles and biographies
Abandon Normal Devices (event co host)
http://www.furtherfield.org, whose Ruth Catlow chaired the final session and whose programme has included @jonandali , 50% of whom were on the first panal!
@TheMacGuffin – a new approach to publishing short stories, to beta test visit beta@macguffin.io
The Writing Platform including a call for papers and previous ‘start up commissions’ Fabler Move and Invisible Islands – very much worth an explore
Bridging the physical and virtual in Museums from Jane Finnis of Culture 24
Arts and Cultural data set lists museum-api.pbworks.com/w/page/21933420/Museum%C2%A0APIs
@balticmill new online archive balticplus.uk
womenshiftdigital
Sarah Ellis article from Guardian professionals
LIVE BLOGS: After the Future, Disruptive Innovation & Activate the Public Space goo.gl/h4KOJb
What to do with your data – slides Gavin Starks (@agentgav)
Introducing Open Data – slides – from @misslake (Jane Freeman)
John Maedea TED talk suggested by @cerigorton
A Gallery of Aesthetic Experiments@erocdrahs blog
The know how programme
Studying the appearance of algorithms in popular culture and everyday life. a blog /PhD – suggested by one of the chairs @sarahecook
How to build the Museum of the Future (bringing the virtual and the real together)a suggested  read from Jane Finnis of the brilliant Culture 24

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All errors are mine.

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