Digital Democracies Artist Development Programme

We are all witnesses to how profoundly digital technologies are changing the way audiences consume art in public spaces, leading to new challenges and exciting opportunities for artists and creatives.

Digital innovation is driven through experimentation.

To drive innovation within the sector in a way that is inclusive and accessible, Digital Democracies opened up access to information and opportunity for artists looking to explore, learn and experiment with digital and emerging technologies in their practice. The aim of the programme was to connect artists and creatives to share and explore new digital skills and insight that can accelerate interrogation of digital and emerging practice.

Through an online programme of hands-on Masterclasses and Tech Talks, artists and creatives at all career levels were invited to build skills and confidence in new and emerging technologies (that are accessible to adopt), expand their knowledge across a range of topics, and draw inspiration from experts and already successful projects.

See all past events below. Some of the sessions were recorded and are available to watch back below.

Past Artist Development Events

Tech Talk #1: Making Terrible robots and Making Them Great – Air Giants

In this Tech Talk, Air Giants’ Co-Founder Richard Sewell gives an introduction to emotionally effective technology and the process behind projects created for large audiences.

Built for close-up interaction with people, using little more than fabric, air, light, and computation, Air Giants’ large-scale robots draw from puppetry, robotics, software, and interactive technology, and they aim to bring a sense of joy and wonder to large audiences.

Richard shares insights about how Air Giants came to make their joyful interactive soft robots, and their history with creative technology, robotics and interaction. Richard discusses the importance of interactivity and engagement, the value of aiming low when prototyping, and the challenges of starting a creative technology business in the middle of a pandemic.

A recording of the Tech Talk is available on YouTube. After watching, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to fill out our feedback survey 

Tech Talk #2: Digital Atmosphere AR Art App – Studio Above&Below

This Tech Talk recording gives an overview of how art and technology practice, Studio Above&Below, uses data derived from an air pollution sensor for their mixed reality artwork, Digital Atmosphere.

Co-Founders of Studio Above&Below, Daria Jelonek and Perry-James Sugden, discuss how they researched and developed a process to source and implement air pollution data from the web throughout the UK. The speakers share insights about their past development of Digital Atmosphere, and ongoing research and development for a public UK wide app.

A recording of the Tech Talk is available on YouTube. After watching, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to fill out our feedback survey.

Tech Talk #3: Creating Cinematic Virtual Environments – Mnemoscene

Co-Founders of Mnemoscene, Sophie Dixon and Ed Silverton, introduce the audience to the creation of cinematic virtual environments inspired by and incorporating cultural heritage collections.

The talk focused on filmmaking within these virtual environments and gave an overview of the multi-screen film installation ‘Grace’ (2021), commissioned by, and installed at, the RNLI Grace Darling Museum, UK.

The speakers shared their insights into Grace (2021), from development to post-production, discussing the use of museum collections for creative projects, 3D modelling and digitisation processes, physically-based virtual environments, and the potential for filmmaking using game engines.

A recording of the Tech Talk is available on YouTube. After watching, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to fill out our feedback survey.

Masterclass #1: Creative Coding, A Visual Arts Approach – Ashley James Brown 

Internationally respected artist and creative technologist Ashley James Brown led a step-by-step introduction to coding. On the Masterclass, participants learnt how to access browser-based code to create their own visuals, play and develop coding skills to build upon their existing practice.

Watch the recording of the Masterclass on YouTube and follow along in your own time. After watching, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to fill out our feedback survey.

Masterclass #2: DIY Light – Thomas Buckley

Artist and storyteller Thomas Buckley led this Masterclass in working with light and projection in a way that is accessible.

Thomas shared unexpected solutions that use hardware rather than expensive or prohibitive software, that are available to anyone, in the true DIY spirit. Participants learnt projection jargon, concepts of software used to map, to make, and to interact, and routes into technological experimentation that lead to unique processes.

This Masterclass was part of Thomas Buckley’s artist residency aimed at discovering new ways in which we can use light and projection. It is a summary of his creative experiments challenging the assumptions we make when using projection in creative work.

Watch the recording of the Masterclass on YouTube and follow along in your own time. After watching, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to fill out our feedback survey.

Masterclass #3: The Art of Sound – Thore McIntyre-Burnie 

This Masterclass, led by Thor McIntyre-Burnie, offered a mix of discursive deconstruction, demonstrations and some practical exercises using available technology. It provided the participants with tips and a better understanding of this peculiar spatial field, including working creatively with the concept of multi-channel and immersive sound, public space and site-responsive scenarios, and affordable and accessible ways to play with sound technology.

Whilst this was not an AR workshop, the event focused on how sound augments our reality: how it plays and resonates with spaces, places, objects, materials and performers. Auditory experiences are one of the most effective means of augmenting and transforming reality and democratically engaging people with the politics of public free space, proving that digital culture is not limited to visual projects like VR, LX or video mapping.

This Masterclass is not available as a recording.

Masterclass #4: Heritage Hack – Judith Ricketts

When we consider stories, oral history and connection with audiences from a heritage perspective in our public spaces, how can we adapt and consider new platforms and collaborations that allow us to extend the experience and the narrative for audiences?

Judith Ricketts, a Serious Games Developer and a Lecturer in digital media arts, uses the spatial memory of the city’s built environment, along with archives and technology, to tell interactive stories.

Our archives, be they formal documents housed in institutions or oral histories, folk lore, myth, legend, music score, document or other; can often miss their connection points with the people and communities whose voices they represent.

In this context, the format for this session was to approach the series of questions posed with an open mind so we could begin to build on what we know, on the journey towards greater representation.

Read Judith Ricketts’ post on our blog.

This Masterclass is not available as a recording.

woman with long red hair listening to headphones whilst walking by a canal

Masterclass #5: No Vantage Point – Duncan Speakman

We are all immersed, always. In physical environments, digital networks, in social and political constructs, and yet discussion around ‘immersive media’ is often led by examples of works that cocoon us.

Duncan Speakman is a composer and sound artist who creates narrative sound led experiences that engage audiences in uncontrolled public and private space.

In this Masterclass, Duncan shared his insights about how we can reframe the idea of immersive media as something that exposes and reveals the entangled ecologies we exist in. Focusing on mobile audio and augmented experiences, this Masterclass offered a mixture of provocations, discussion and practical exercises.

This Masterclass was hosted in partnership with Sound Walk September.

This Masterclass is not available as a recording.

Image: Only Expansion, Duncan Speakman at Frequency Festival 2021. Photo credit: Electric Egg.

Digital Democracies