Next week centre director, Prof Tim Wall, is off to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as a member of a group engaging with Chinese arts organisations. The delegation is made up of representatives from the following organisations: Artfinder, Sage Gateshead, Culture 24, RSC, WKCD and Roundhouse, Tate Research, Nesta, The Literary Platform, Philharmonia Orchestra, BC Creative Economy and UKTI. It’s a real honour for our centre to be represented in this company. Tim was selected and is being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) who hope that we can establish some collaborative projects with the Chinese arts institutions we will visit. We’ll be visiting and participating in events at the following institutions: National Museum Arts and Palace Museum; China Millennium Monument Museum of Digital Arts (CMoDA); China Art Museum, Shanghai; Shanghai Concert Hall; West Kowloon Cultural District Authority; HK Philharmonic Orchestra; ALiVE lab; Science Park, Shatin; LCSD, Cultural Centre; HK Arts Administrator’s Association; Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre.
James and Ruth came to talk about their recently completed In Place of War (IPOW) research project and the follow on project Humanitarianism 2.0. This project is in partnership with the Centre and I’ll talk more about this a little later.
In Place of War was an AHRC funded research project and was driven by Professor Thompson’s background in theatre and drama performance and studies, and in particular his work in the UK prison service working with violent offenders using drama and theatre practices and methods.
In 2000, James was contacted by the Unicef unit, Children Affected by Armed Conflict, who were working in Northern Sri Lanka, which at that time was a civil war zone. Unicef asked James to provide training for community organisations who were interested in using theatre as a way of engaging with young people affected by the war. Before leaving the UK , James did some research on theatre in Sri Lanka and was astonished to find a) very little literature about this subject, b) that what he did find claimed there was no theatre in the north of Sri Lanka because of the war.
Upon reaching Sri Lanka though, James discovered a rich, vibrant and diverse theatre and arts community who were programming a range of activities across a number of places and spaces in the city of Jaffna. Jaffna was also home to the only university Theatre Studies course on the whole island.
This was to be the seed for the In Place Of War project and the central research questions; Why do people continue to make art in war zones? Why do academics assume they don’t?
Last month the media historian and political economist James Curran gave a talk at a conference I attended, the annual conference for MeCCSA, the Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association. Entitled ‘Mickey Mouse Squeaks Back: Defending Media Studies’ Curran’s talk was a vigorous defence of a subject area that seems to have been under attack from sections of the media for as long as I’ve been involved in studying or teaching it (about 20 years). Continue reading
As part of my involvement with the Rhythm Changes project, I’ve been doing some research into the ways in which different national jazz agencies around Europe use the internet as part of what they do.
At the 2011 Jazzahead conference, I interviewed delegates representing music centres and national jazz agencies from the UK, Netherlands, Slovenia, Iceland, France, Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Catalonia, Denmark, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. From those interviews, I was able to discern a number of shared concerns, overlapping strategies and common goals and approaches that these organisations have used to think about their online offerings.
While each national agency is essentially interested in the promotion and propagation of the jazz music of their own country, this basic commonality of intent is not uniformly reflected in the strategies each brings to the Internet in order to achieve that aim. In fact, in many ways, the approaches differ substantially. In part, this is attributable to the various differences in the cultural, economic and political objectives that underpin the activities of these organisations, but it also reflects differences in audience demographic profiles, access to financial, technical and human resources to develop the online offerings and the levels of online experience (and interest) staff members of the organisation possess.
Digital Transformations is “a research network exploring digital transformations in the creative relationships between cultural and media organisations and their users”.
I attended their first workshop last week, alongside BCMCR colleague Paul Long. Paul was there hoping to discuss notions of expertise with other researchers and scholars, and also to engage in some ideas to inform the Culture Cloud project. I was there primarily because I’ve taken up a brief in BCMCR to develop knowledge transfer work, and “exploring digital transformations in the creative relationships between cultural and media organisations and their users” speaks quite clearly to that.
The day was structured around some presentations in plenary – some case studies, some think pieces – followed by break out discussions that followed an unconference like format (reflecting the overarching theme of the day about organising activities from the user upwards).
In the end the day for me was actually more interesting in terms of research work, rather than knowledge transfer, and I spoke more about some of the activity happening within hyperlocal media than I did about KT. Not what I expected, but not unwelcome.
Following on from the last breakout session, where I was note taking for the group, I’ve contributed a guest post on lurking as participation to the network – read the post here.
The network has a number of events over the coming months which may be of interest:
20 April 2012: Business models, rights and ownership workshop, at British Library, London
15 May 2012: Design workshop, at Tate Britain, London
21 June 2012: Learning workshop, at UCL, London
To book head to www.digitaltransformations.org.uk
During my visit to SXSWi I found myself attending the following panels which all touched on the notion of singularity in different ways:
- Robot Panelists, AI and the Future of Identity
- Wall-E or Terminator: Predicting the Rise of AI
- 3D Printing: Not Everyone Will Be Excited
- PolySocial Reality and the Enspirited World
I wont profess to being an expert on the subject after only attending four panel discussions (so I might not get everything right in this blog post), but it is an area which interests me greatly and it was wonderful to attend panels at SXSWi that discussed it.
For those who don’t know (in layman’s terms), the notion of singularity is best described as a moment where AI becomes more intelligent than us, and in some versions of this the machine will be able to replicate itself with modifications to make it better in some way.
So within the realms of the 3D printer, a printer is currently being programmed to replicate itself totally. Once it’s done that, the replica may be able to reproduce itself but ‘better’.
Moving from singularity to the event horizon, the event horizon is a point in the development of machines when their is a point of no return.
The panel Robot Panelists, AI and the Future of Identity in my opinion showed the first signs of ‘humanity’ in AI through Bina48.
Bina48 is a animatronic torso that has been created to simulate a human. Bina48 can ‘talk’ and answer questions quite beautifully, is quite charismatic when doing so and can be a little scary. Bina48 has been created using a ‘mind file’ taken from a human Bina and can recognise speech though a speech recognition system, she then constructs full sentences and answers.
Bina48 was one of the highlights of SXSWi for me and if you get a chance I would recommend looking her up online. Seeing her might make you wonder if the event horizon is near.
In her post yesterday, Elizabeth described her trip to SxSWi as part of an official (funded) Birmingham delegation to the annual technology festival. She describes something of the process of getting to Austin and her experience as part of the community that made up that trade delegation. That’s a theme at the heart of a recent article I co-authored with Jennifer Jones, a visiting lecturer here at Birmingham School of Media and a researcher in UWS’s Creative Futures centre.
The article, The imaginary SxSWi, seeks to interrogate the way in which sponsoring trips to SxSWi can be justified; often attendance is positioned as proxy attendance for others but, with so much content from the festival being available online, what knowledge can be transferred only through proxy attendance?
The article is very much intended as, in the words of the hosting journal’s editors, “a ‘think’ piece, designed to spur discussion amongst scholars and audiences”. If you have any thoughts on this please do head over to FlowTV and leave a comment.
This year I went to South by South West Interactive (SXSWi), for the first time and found the whole experience fascinating and exhausting.
When I was planning on going I was a little nervous about travelling and being in Texas on my own. Not something that now I should have worried about.
Before I bought my ticket for SXSWi there were several meetings to discus possible funding that was available from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), along with networking with those people who were interested in going. As time drew closer to SXSW less and less people came to these networking events until it was only the delegates that had their tickets and were going.
The Birmingham contingent itself is made up of mostly people who have been to SXSW before and who are more than happy to help and give advice before and during the conference, which helps to promote a great community feel about attending. Once in Texas (on the first morning over breakfast), numbers and twitter handles were swapped so that everyone could stay in contact and no one was left feeling as if they were on their own. Every night (once the conference had ended for the evening), individuals and groups of Birmingham delegates kept in touch via twitter and text and ended up eating dinner and networking together which certainly helped to create a friendly community feel.
During SXSWi the UKTI created an event where some lucky companies were able to present themselves to people attending SXSWi. These mission companies can be found on the Chinwag site here. During this event Birmingham was well represented and it was great to see the products that the people who I had been spending time with were doing via demonstration. This was a very useful event to attend as it allowed for the Birmingham contingent to connect with others from the UK who we had not been too closely in contact with before, see their products and forum other useful links and networks.
Overall I found the community feel of the Birmingham contingent really helpful, friendly and supportive with regards to my SXSWi experience. I would recommend that anyone who is planning on attending SXSW 2013 should make sure they get to know who’s going from Birmingham before traveling to the conference so they can share their knowledge with you.
After going once, I hope to go to SXSWi again, and if I do I’m already looking forward to sharing my knowledge with anyone new attending.
The call for artists to upload their work for consideration as part of the Culture Cloud project is now online at: theculturecloud.com or theculturecloud.co.uk. There is also a Facebook page dedicated to circulating information on the project. The Twitter feed can be found at: @NaeCultureCloud.
Potential contributors were invited to start uploading/registering art works from 5 March 2012. Registration is open until midnight Friday 4 May 2012.
After artists register and upload images of their art to this site, each will be considered for shortlisting as one of 60 works to be selected by the Culture Cloud curators. Curators are drawn from a national network of partner galleries to New Art Exchange (NAE) and the project: FACT, Liverpool; Asian Triennial, Manchester; Next Level Projects, London; Arts Admin, London; Format Festival/ Derby QUAD;PRIMARY Nottingham; Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham and Cornerhouse, Manchester.
From 4 June – 5 July 2012, 60 works will be displayed on the Artfinder Culture Cloud website page which will be open to the public where individuals will be able to vote for their favourite work. Audiences will be able to log in register their preferences via a link to the Facebook ‘like’ function.
Online voting will result in a further shortlist of the top 30 most popular works. After a Public Launch on 27 July this shortlisted work will be on public display at NAE from 28 July – 25 August 2012.
There will be two overall Culture Cloud winners: a ‘curators choice’ and the ‘public choice’ based on votes from the final stage of the project. Each will each receive a cash prize of up to £2000, a personal iPad app and the possibility of a solo show and/or project at New Art Exchange in the future.
The Culture Cloud site features an extensive Q&A for those interested in uploading, explanations of who is involved and an outline of what happens at each stage of the project. Queries about Culture Cloud can be directed to: [email protected] and of course, we invite comment on the project at this site as part of our evaluation.