I’ve just got back from a fleeting yet fascinating trip to Birmingham to experience the final days of ‘Future C U R I O U S’.
I had found it quite difficult to explain to people what I was going to be doing this weekend and now, having been ‘there’ and done ‘it’, I’m still not 100% sure how best to describe this event…
After arriving at mac birmingham (all-encompassing arts/events space) we quickly delved into one of the many drop in sessions, talks and demonstrations dotted throughout the central space. The main, overarching theme seemed to be about exploring new ways that aspiring and emerging artists can utilise new technologies in their practice. Many of the participating practitioners were talking enthusiastically about the interesting results that can develop out of technological and artistic partnerships (though, always careful not to imply that these disciplines are mutually exclusive in the first place).
One key, and very simple, lesson that I took away from this event was the joy of (pointless) play. This sounds ridiculously obvious, but as an adult with a busy job and a finite amount of spare time, it is sometimes easy to go whole days, weeks, maybe even months without genuinely letting yourself waste some time, have a little fun and try something completely different. Glitch art (creating something new through corrupting the digital code/data) was a very simple, very effective way of encouraging adults to genuinely play, to discover and create something new. Refreshingly, seen as the whole point is to ‘glitch’, this particular activity also takes away the fear of ‘getting things wrong’, which I think can often be a barrier within creative pursuits.
Having been invited to come along as part of the Watershed’s ‘Future Producers’ programme I was also reflecting on what this weekend could mean for us, as we begin to gear up and plan for our own events. I’m part of the team looking into expanding and promoting the Under 24 Ticket Offer and I think, for me, ‘Future C U R I O U S’ really reaffirmed the importance of creative, inventive and (perhaps even slightly mindless) play. Another key lesson was to not feel too afraid of technologically-orientated ideas. As although personally, I still find the concept of ‘coding’ intimidating, I also now appreciate that working within disciplines you don’t fully understand can sometimes yield creative, and perhaps even unexpected, results.
The weekend ended with an utterly fantastic keynote speech by Christopher Barnatt, an academic and futurist (I had to Google it too). He said some pretty mind boggling things about society and our current relationship to the Earth and it’s undeniably finite resources. What I was most struck by, was his thoughts on what the role of artists and creative thinkers could be in addressing this challenge. Technology is nothing without a strong, powerful and overarching narrative. I realise that probably makes very little sense unless you were at the talk earlier, or are already familiar with Christopher’s work. I can’t hope to be as articulate and engaging as him so I’ll just encourage you Google him and check out his website.
I definitely left feeling curious, creatively energised (and keen to try out my own glitch art)…