We were delighted to have been invited to curate Digital Utopias, a one-day conference which aimed to inspire and incite debate about how new technologies are enabling creativity across the arts. The conference captured topical and diverse approaches to curation, archiving, collecting and creating from a range of artforms, from the visual arts to theatre.
Digital Utopias provided an opportunity for cultural organisations and practitioners to discuss new tools and emergent practice, whilst connecting with international arts organisations and specialists in the field to unpick the creative and critical challenges facing the arts today.
Delegates experienced panel discussions, clinics on open data, workshops and showcases, with opportunities to network with a range of professionals, artists, technologists and curators who work across various art disciplines.
Digital Utopias offered an exciting programme that activated various spaces throughout Hull Truck Theatre. Read a detailed programme breakdown here.
The main auditorium was a forum for topical debates, insightful critiques of current art/tech collaborations and a celebration of the connections between contemporary digital practice and art and technology histories.
In the studio theatre artists, curators and thinkers showcased tools and practice covering: digital sculpture, wearables and smart devices; interactivity, motion tracking and video mapping in dance and theatre; new publishing and distribution methods.
In the classroom there were two clinics, one on what to do with your organisational data and the second on ensuring long term access to digital information through collecting, archiving and preservation.
The event featured the following speakers:
Dr Sarah Cook, Lynn Scarff (The Science Gallery), Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield), Ruth MacKenzie (The Space), Memo Atken, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Matthew Plummer Fernandez, Julia Kaganskiy (NewInc), Dr Jennifer Gabrys, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Morgan Quaintance, Sarah Ellis (Royal Shakespeare Company) Irini Papadimitriou (V&A), Extanct, Joanna Ellis (The Writing Platform), Katrina Sluis (The Photographers Gallery), Karen Gaskill (Crafts Council), Amit Sood (Google Cultural Institute), Yes Yes No.
Speaker biographies can be viewed here.
The three main talks were live blogged by our guest author Dani Admiss:
After the Future
After the Future examined how art is changing in the digital age and how new behaviours and systems are emerging in the creation, exhibition, interpretation and dissemination of art.
Through sharing recent and historical examples, the panel interrogated the challenges of classifying a growing and chaotic field. Asking questions such as; what are the practical challenges and values, which should inform the future? And how can our media art history inform the sector? Live blog here.
This panel will unpick alternative models of “innovation” through examining production models and their cultural value. Interdisciplinary artistic practice can create new platforms, resources and art forms, but what are the benefits to artistic practice and how can cultural appropriation be avoided? Live blog here.
Activate the Public Space
The public space is augmented with information, networks, forces, bodies, buildings and technology. How do we define the public space? How do we create work for a time where the distinction between being offline and online is harder distinguish?
We heard from a range of organisations, who have opened up new social spaces, data and communities through gaming, networked objects and growing DIY communities. Live blog here.
Digital Utopias was curated by Abandon Normal Devices as a trailblazer event for Hull City of Culture 2017, bringing together a range of partners including The Space, Innovate UK, ODI and AHRC as well as artists and cultural practitioners from across the UK and beyond.
Digital Utopias is one of a series of three Arts Council events that are supported by Google.