Category Archives: Tech

On Culture: We Are Now – UK’s only performance & creative technology festival

The CultureJukebox team are always reporting in new developments in art and tech – so great to hear about We Are Now coming to London in September, a live events that explores the creative use of technology in the performing arts to create sensory experiences for audiences.

The team showcase emerging companies alongside established names to offer a platform to artists pushing the boundaries of their specialism, to develop their work and professional networks and pioneer new methods of immersive experience.

The September event takes place on the 1st & 2nd and is an eclectic programme of boundary pushing theatre by the best of emerging and established companies, free interactive installations, 1-1 immersive virtual reality performance, an interactive audio theatre adventure and an arresting and electric late night show that harnesses the sonic capabilities of the Tesla Coil.

Find out more: https://www.wearenowfestival.com/

On Culture: the progressive new intersection of VR and promenade performance

The intersection of art and technology is one of the most interesting creative spaces – so great to hear about progressive new performance WHIST coming to London this month and then touring the UK.

‘WHIST’, created by dance company AΦE, is a new production combining VR with interactive promenade theatre. WHIST incorporates 360˚ interactive film, soundscapes and an architectural art installation to create an environment that blurs all boundaries – between consciousness and unconsciousness, reality and fiction, the physical and the virtual.

Inspired by Sigmund Freud’s dream theory, WHIST invites audiences on a journey into the unconscious mind, where instincts will be the guide through a narrative of surreal dreams and fears. And you, or your subconscious, choose your own path.

The performance incorporates 360˚ interactive film, soundscapes and an architectural art installation to create an environment that blurs all boundaries – between consciousness and unconsciousness, reality and fiction, the physical and the virtual.

Using interactive ‘triggers’ positioned in the virtual world by its makers, WHIST allows for a total of 76 narrative possibilities to exist, creating a unique experience for each viewer. No simple ‘red pill vs. blue pill’ format, WHIST implements interactive elements, subtly woven into the film to effect unconscious decision making.

According to the team behind the show, this puts the production at the very forefront of immersive storytelling innovation – leaving the strings that bind and pull at all times invisible. You, or your subconscious, choose your own path.

So, what are the upcoming dates?

  • Ugly Duck – London
    • 23-25 June 2017
  • Pavilion Dance South West – Bournemouth
    • 3-4 July 2017
  • Colours International Dance Festival – Stuttgart, Germany
    • 6 – 15 July 2017
  • Festival Theatre – Edinburgh
    • 21st July – 3rd August 2017
  • The Old Market – Brighton
    • 19-20 September 2017
  • (further dates to be confirmed)

Check the website for more information: http://www.aoiesteban.com/whist/

 

On Visual Arts: The Infinite Mix

Last week we were invited to see The Infinite Mix in Central London, here’s what we made of it.

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The Infinite Mix brought a sense of space, spectacle and wonder to London. A much needed injection of  creative ambition, ideas and energy to a city in dire need of colour and fun in the post-truth “age of anxiety”.

A collection of works by blockbuster film and moving image artists, the show took place in the middle of a building site – dust and rubble was around many corners.

The Infinite Mix was a Hayward offsite exhibition, organised in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory. Here’s a few of our highlights:

Ugo Rondinone, THANX 4 NOTHING, 2015, film still. Courtesy: the artist, Galerie Eva Presenhuber and Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York/ Brussels © Ugo Rondinone

THANX 4 NOTHING, 2015 © Ugo Rondinone

Ugo Rondinone’s immersive video installation features legendary beat poet John Giorno performing THANX 4 NOTHING. In this poem written on his 70th birthday, Giorno looks back at his life – and the people and events that shaped it – with humour and compassion. Performing in a tuxedo and bare feet on an empty stage in the Palais des Glaces theatre in Paris, as well as in a brightly-lit TV studio, Giorno gives thanks to ‘everyone for everything,’ before speaking frankly on the death of friends and lovers, sex, betrayal and his frequent periods of depression.

This installation was funny, warm and full of love. The artist’s admiration for another artist is clear, the stories and humour leaping from stage to screen and enveloping the viewer. A beautiful piece that is impossible to forget.

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Work No. 1701, 2013 © the artist.  c/o the artist, Hauser & Wirth

Martin Creed’s work often focuses on a single movement or gesture. In Work No. 1701a range of individuals cross a New York street, accompanied by a jubilant pop song written and performed by the artist. Talking about the film, Creed has commented that ‘doing things in life, living and working, is always using your body’, and that ‘life can look like a dance’. Work No. 1701 is a celebration of the act of getting from A to B, as well as the different ways in which people move through the world.

Creed, who has been writing songs and leading a band for over 20 years, describes his music and his visual work as an ‘attempt to make something for the world’. As he explains, they both stem from the same place: the desire to ‘say hello, to try to communicate somehow.’

Martin Creed’s piece was about movement and place – taking the viewer out of themselves and asking people to understand different location, dance and what makes people people.

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© DACS, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin

In the holographic illusion OPERA (QM.15) Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster appears in the guise of legendary soprano Maria Callas (1923–77). Dressed in the singer’s signature red dress and dramatic makeup, the artist lip-syncs to arias from Cherubini’s Medea, Verdi’s La Traviata and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda. Situated at the end of a derelict corridor, and encountered from a distance of 30 metres, the luminous figure is at first startlingly life-like – an impression reinforced by the strength of Callas’s voice.

OPERA (QM.15) is influenced by the development of photography, early cinema and the interest in the uncanny shared by many 19th-century artists and writers. It is related to a larger body of work that Gonzalez-Foerster began in 2012: an ever-expanding ‘fragmented opera’ consisting of live and recorded performances in which she appears as a range of fictional or historical figures. To Gonzalez-Foerster, each performance – including her turn as Maria Callas – is not theatre, but rather ‘a kind of séance.’

The technical quality of the Gonzalez-Foerster installation was superb, capturing attention and imagination as people explored the building. The haunting sounds and beautiful holographic colours prove to mash together sound, space and time together. A unique experience that questions the nature of both art and performance. Wonderful.

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We’re limited by time what we can say about The Infinite Mix. First of all, it was a pleasure and a privilege to see large scale art and video in Central London. Let’s hope for more in 2017!

Secondly, we came away thinking about the title and the grouping of artists. What is really infinite? I think it’s modern culture, with its remixes, reinventions and technology opening up ever more outlandish ideas and ways to tell stories. And of course, these are mixed across countries and across cultures. But this “Infinite Mix” means we have a challenge, we only have finite time and an even smaller attention span – where does the great work go in The Infinite Mix?

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On Tech: Looking back on WebSummit2016

The CultureJukebox team are just back from a fantastic few days in Lisbon, working from the WebSummit event.

We were particularly impressed with the FutureSocieties strand of the huge event, getting inspired by some big thinking about how technology can create a better and fairer society.

Talks from Alexander Mars (How Technology Can Change The Act Of Giving); Sam Kriss (Has The Internet Done More Harm Than Good); and Rallying Tech For Refugees were all particularly memorable. A few of the WebSummit talks are here.

Anyway, our team came away with lots of new contacts, big ideas and are writing stories for various start-ups based on our meetings there.  btw, there’s loads of images from the event on the WebSummit Flikr page here.

A few stats:

  • 53,056 people from 166 countries joined attended Web Summit

  • Its Women in Tech initiative meant that the female/male gender ratio at Web Summit 2016 is 42% to 58%. Nearly half of the registered attendees in Lisbon this week were female (well played WebSummit!)

  • And circa 97,000 Pasteis de Nata consumed (A few by us we’re pleased to say!)

Maybe see you in Lisbon next year…

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@ WebSummit

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Admiring the bonita azulejos… 😉

On Ideas: Introducing A New Way To Get Things Done

As you’ve probably read already, the CultureJukebox team like to get things done…

So, it was great to be introduced to a whole new way of sorting your life out, and saving some money too. Bidvine recently launched in the UK, and we’ve been really impressed with the website so far.

The website has a clear mission – “to enrich lives through fulfilling outcomes that improve relationships, make us smarter, and ultimately increase our ability to spend time on meaningful things”. Sounds good, right?

The website does this by connecting people with things to be done with those who are skilled at doing them. So, what does this mean in practice?

Essentially Bidvine allows you to search for a service via a postcode – finding the right expert at the right price to get something done. This could mean window cleaning, video editing, Spanish lessons, putting together Ikea furniture or something else entirely different.

What’s great about Bidvine is that once you put your job request out there, you get a variety of quotes back – meaning you can choose the one that best fits. There could be cost or timing implications or something else, the choice is yours really.

In total, Bidvine offers more than 600 services at dozens of locations around England. They have an app, and it’s worth exploring the website to find out more: https://www.bidvine.com/

Easy to use, smart and (potentially) a big time-saver too. Thumbs up!

 

 

 

On Data: Dress For Our Time explores global migration

Dress For Our Time, by award-winning artist is a unique installation that brings statistics and fashion together to explore one of the world’s most pressing issues – migration.

The installation has been created by designer Helen Storey MBE RDI (London College of Fashion, UAL Centre for Sustainable Fashion). By using innovative technology, the latest data and Helen’s unique voice in fashion, Dress For Our Time delves into the complex matter of human displacement in a pioneering endeavour to change the social narrative of this complex topic. A really impressive idea.

image c/o Holition
image c/o Holition

The dress itself is a decommissioned refugee tent which once housed a refugee family in Jordan and was gifted to the project by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In giving the tent a meaningful reincarnation as a public installation, Dress For Our Time transcends both data and fashion by humanising the numbers to tell a bigger story.

“Worldwide, one in every 113 people on the planet is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking shelter – but numbers means nothing, if they don’t affect your own heart. This project uses the power of fashion to help us connect to the previously unimaginable and asks how each and every one of us can remain a humanitarian in such a time of colossal and irreversible change”. ~ Helen Storey, Professor of Fashion and Science at London College of Fashion, UAL

The UNHCR has logged a record 65.3 million people currently displaced worldwide and 21.3 million refugees.  Dress For Our Time uses the very latest data, representing one year’s worth of UNHCR statistics collected by its Field Information and Coordination Section. This information will be used to visualise the refugee crisis and demonstrate its true human element, through a striking animation that will be projected onto the dress itself using data visualisation developed by Holition. The animation is formed of points of light, each representing one hundred human lives and creatively illustrates the journey each one takes in search of a better life. The lights flow from six points, depicting the continents where the refugees have moved from, before populating the countries in which they find shelter. The image that emerges is not a world map of countries but a map of human migration.

 

The piece opened to the public earlier this month, and will be on show at The Science Museum until September 4th. For more information click here and follow the hashtag #Dress4OurTime. A powerful, timely and beautifully produced idea.

On Alternate Realities: Big ideas at Sheffield Doc/Fest

I’ve been lucky enough to attend three different Sheffield Doc/Fest festivals, and always been so impressed by its progressive showcase of forward-thinking alternate realities programming.

Virtual and alternate realities are often a such an imaginative, immersive and impactful way to tell the stories that matter – it’s been great to properly digest this year’s programme over the past couple of days. Here’s a few of the highlights:

Alternate Realities: Interactive Exhibition

The festival’s Interactive Exhibition will showcase a range of interactive docs that you can play with, touch and experience. You can be among the first to see some mind-blowing cutting edge technology which has not yet been shown by to a public audience. Here’s what in the programme:

The Enemy uses augmented reality technology that uses the camera on your phone to superimpose life-sized characters into the room right in front of you, in this case a member of the Israeli Defence Force and a Palestinian fighter. As you move towards and around them, they react to you, talking about who they think the enemy is.

The USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony invites you to have a conversation with the scanned image of a holocaust survivor powered by sophisticated natural language processing software that allows you to ask him questions about his experiences and get a natural response.

The festival will set up an Empathy Station to test how bias can be changed through empathy. Games have finally grown up and games developers are working with documentary producers to allow us to connect with documentary stories on a level where you experience the narrative as a participant rather than a viewer.

In This War of Mine: The Little Ones you can discover what it’s like to be a child struggling to survive in a war-torn city. Antariksha Sanchar is India’s first major video-game, a beautifully-crafted experience in which you follow in the footsteps of a young mathematician learning to make sense of the cosmos.

Walden, a Game simulattes the experience of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau as he goes back to nature at Walden Pond. It’s a game in which you are rewarded by reading literature and discovering the natural world.

Two Billion Miles puts you in the shoes of a migrant trying to find a safe haven in Europe. You see the results of decisions you make about the journey played out in actual news footage showing the stark reality for many thousands of people over the past few months.

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#Hacked: Syria’s Electronic Armies invites us to become a journalist investigating the ISIS cyber war. The festival has some beautiful interactive documentaries in which artists invite us to play and explore.

John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes takes us on a boat with Lennon as he travels to Bermuda with his son Sean, a journey of renewed creativity which resulted in his Double Fantasy album.

In Avatar Secrets, Canadian interactive film-maker Ramona Pringle analyses online identities in today’s connected world.

A Polish Journey retraces the steps of a Polish migrant to Britain after the Second World War. The festival has a couple of art installations as well.

Trick or Treat : Bhai-O-Scope takes us into the curious world of India’s unregistered street doctors while Undoing Time looking at the American prison system through the products of the prison industry.

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The Alternate Realities Summit

On Sunday 12 June 2016 the Alternate Realities Summit (previously The Crossover Summit) will be taking place at Sheffield Doc/Fest. It promises a day of panel talks and playful presentations from some of the smartest minds in news, documentary, digital storytelling and virtual reality.

Fascinatingly, the festival is the first to have an Android keynote speaker, Bina48. This is not to be missed! Anyway, the festival programme tells us:

We kick off the Summit morning session ‘Robots, Androids and Avatars Live’ with a series of keynotes and practical demonstrations from intelligent machines and their human companions: social robot Bina48 debates love, war and the universe with Ramona Pringle, Dr Stephen Smith presents virtual Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter, who answers all your questions about his experience in real-time, NAO gives us a brief history of robots and iCub helps us to see beyond our own eyes with telepresence experiments.

Back by popular demand, our VRfternoon sessions explore the impact of virtual reality on factual storytelling. Google’s very own Principal Filmmaker for VR, Jessica Brillhart kicking off post-lunch proceedings, with her latest insights from the frontline of VR making. We will be delving into the advantages and potential pitfalls of binaural sound, investigating how journalism works in virtual reality, sharing what the VR community can learn from immersive theatre, analysing whether virtual reality can increase our empathy levels, as well as launching a new VR film from the United Nations.

I’m particularly interested in Dr Stephen Smith’s keynote talk, showcasing a New Dimensions in Testimony; ground-breaking natural language software that allows audiences to have a “virtual encounter” with the recorded image of Holocaust survivor, Pinchas Gutter, who responds in real time, powered by complex algorithms providing realistic conversation. I saw a trailer of this project at UCL last year, and this kind if work has the awesome potential to transform storytelling and archives of the future.

static1.squarespace.jpgAlso, really looking forward to the United Nation’s VR film launch. This will be a mass viewing of the organisation’s latest VR film; all about gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where factions fight over the country’s mineral resources. After the viewing, the project’s director Gabo Arora will be interviewed by Francine Stock of BBC Radio 4’s The Film Programme.

 

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If virtual reality and pushing the boundaries of factual reporting is your thing, then highly recommend visiting the Sheffield Doc/Fest website to explore for yourself.