YAIC 2012 Afternoon Workshops

After the main investor workshop came three separate, smaller workshops looking at music publishing, collaboration in art and design, and a business workshop called “after the pitch”.

The After The Pitch workshop featured Áslaug Magnusdóttir, Founder / CEO, Moda Operandi (US), Helga Valfells, Managing Director, NSA Ventures (IS), Ólafur Andri Ragnarsson, Board Member, Icelandic Gaming Industry (IS).

They showed how you don’t necessarily need to have MBAs or special qualifications but you do need to be able to run a company. “The administrative tasks aren’t so difficult,” says Ólafur - “but what is difficult, is creating the business model that makes people want it and to pay for it.”

“Which you need a business mindset for,” added Helga.

The panel also looked at how to build up your customer fanbase – the people who are going to pay for your products.

The Music Publishing workshop looked at how to harness the potential of  music rights and featured Gemma Dempsey, Music Supervisor (US/UK), Johan Ekelund, Kobalt Music Publishing (SWE), Ólafur Arnalds, Composer (IS) and moderated by Gudrun Björk Bjarnadottir, General Manager, STEF (IS).

The conversation turned around publishing – with Ólafur Arnalds admitting that “when I signed my first publishing deal, I didn’t know what I was signing”, though he now understand it and is very happy with his publishing deal – as well as the process of collecting music royalties and the issues with getting music into films.

Tracey Moberly’s Art & Design Workshop was based more on actual collaboration – a big part of her work in general. Each workshop participant received a brief on a new project called Family, to be shown at a forthcoming show at Tate Britain in London as part of the Great British Art Debate, which explores themes of identity.

Participants had been invited in advance to bring with them existing digital images of themselves and their families (for example they could take a photo on their camera phone of an old family photo) and also to download the application Instagram onto their phones, and Tracey showed a multitude of other examples she’d received.

 

 

Investment Workshop

This initial workshop was aimed at learning how to pitch your business idea to a group of investors and business development specialists.

An opportunity to pick up practical tips about investment in the creative industries, the panel included Helga Valfells, CEO at NBVF (IS) Auslag Magnusdóttir, CEO at Moda Operandi (USA) and Duncan McKie, President, FACTOR (CA).

Moderated by conference manager Remi Harris, the initial discussion looked at defining terms such as seed funding (basically “pre venture”), boot-strapping (“doing things with little money”) and ROI (Return on Investment).

Duncan made a great point during the workshop, which is how “the personality of a country lies within its creative industries, not  in the aluminium smelters”.

The panel then gave feedback on two pitches from Icelandic companies, one from fashion designer and artist Harpa Einarsdottir, who runs the fashion label Zizka; and another from Rakel Solvadottir, who runs Skema Education, a program to teach technology skills to children with mental disabilities.

Both pitches were great and showed lots of promise, but as is normally the case, both lacked definitive business plans. The panel advised both parties to look at bringing a business partner on board before approaching funders and, in the case of Skema, also looking at socially minded funding opportunities or becoming a non-profit.

 

Duncan McKie – FACTOR – Public funding for art and business

The next talk was Duncan McKie, President of FACTOR, Canada’s joint government and private sector fund for recording artists, songwriters, and music businesses. The company currently provides in excess of $14 million annually to support the Canadian music industry.

Duncan explained the roots of FACTOR, which emerged out of something called  the Canadian Talent Library. It was founded in 1982 but in 1986 began managing the Canada Music Fund with an annual budget of $200,000. This was increased by the late 1980s to $25,000,000, and by 2006 had changed name to Canadian Content Development, 50% of whose budget comes from radio contributions.

These days FACTOR now supports some 18 program streams, divided into categories like sound recording programs, marketing and promotion and collective initiatives.

In the 2011-2012 period they received 3881 applications for finding, totalling 43 million Canadian dollars and approved 1783 of them, giving out a total of 16 million. 26% of that money goes into the development of sound recordings, 38% into marketing and promotion,  20% into touring and showcasing 20%. In total, the money supported around 231 sound recordings, 265 demos and singles, 43 videos, 66 domestic tours, 148 international showcases and more, overall creating a GDP Impact of $303 million per year and 13,000 FTE (full time jobs).

Among the notable acts to receive FACTOR funding are Arcade Fire, Nickelback, Feist, Sarah McLachlan and Holly Cole, though Duncan pointed out how the funds support emerging bands too, such as Sheepdogs, Alyssa Reia, Sophie Milman, Carly Rae Jepsen.

 

Aslaug Magnusdóttir – The Investment Rollercoaster

Following a lovely early morning set from Lay Low, the second day of YAIC 2012 got underway with a talk by Aslaug Magnusdóttir, CEO of Moda Operandi, a high-end online retailer that combines her business experience with a flair for creativity and fashion.

Aslaug talked about her unusual history of moving to the States, living in London, training as lawyer and then working in investments at Vogue group in London. She worked with Bloomingdale CEO Marvin Traub, started TSM Capital, a company that invested in early stage fashion businesses before co-founding Moda Operandi in May 2010.

Inspired by a dress she fell in love with at a show, and which she found out would never be commercially produced, she decided to “give these pieces a life outside of the runway” and formed Moda Operandi, the first and only website to offer runway styles to consumers directly after the shows, disrupting the traditional cycle by making consumer the buyer.

Having proved the naysayers wrong, the company’s average transaction is $1400, enjoys 35% repeat purchases and  signed up over 300 luxury brands in first year.

Aslaug explained the benefits of her business model and also how the perception of online commerce has changed, from being a promotional channel, to a discount point of sale, to nowdays being a potential high-end retail channel in its own right.

In terms of finding investment, she advised making sure you have no gaps in your team, that your finances are in order, that you have a business plan, and understand the different types of investors and the pros and cons of each, from friends and family, professional angels, VCs and strategic investors.

Also, pick the right time to approach investors, i.e. during a time of strength. “It’s like dating – don’t look too eager, and be careful who you pick as you’ll likely be with your investor for many years to come”.

 

Interview with Andri Snær Magnason

For the final part of today’s YAIC conference, British journalist Adam Webb chatted to Andri Snær Magnason about his best-selling book Dreamland and about the creative sector in Iceland.

Andri talked about how the themes of the book are relevant now, in the sense of how the creative scene became politicised around the time of the crash and the search for alternatives to government plans to sell off the land and build aluminium smelters etc.

Repeating the main thrust of Dreamland, Andri pointed out how these big plans to save the economy are generally based on shaky foundations and unsustainable, whereas stimulating local businesses is a much more creative and interesting alternative.

“Iceland’s creative spirit really buffered the crash, he said. “There were endless small initiatives that weren’t necessarily big or strong, but all together they gave a sense of hope and created necessary activity. There is a special virtue in doing something; it helps you keep a sense of dignity when you’ve lost your job.”

Adam asked about why Andri wanted to be a writer when he comes from a family of doctors and surgeons. “Before the Sugarcubes, everyone wanted to be a poet. If you came to a cafe in Reykjavik 25 years you would have been harassed not by musicians but by three young poets with their manuscript. Afterwards they wanted to be musicians and I missed the trend and didn’t learn any instruments.”

Of the country’s economic crash and subsequent attempts to selloff the land, Andri remarked that for many Icelandic artists it was “necessary to step out of art and into activism. Many visual artists saw these places in nature were greater than anything they could create so they took people walking, to give them a bigger life experience than they would get in a gallery. I personally did the same. I found it strange to try and write a novel. Why? To amuse someone? Someone who might destroy everything I think is holy?”

He also talked of his current “creative activism” project: with some other friends he has taken over an old coal fired power plant that had been empty for 25 years, and using it for all kinds of projects from creating underwear to building the world’s first electric racing car. “We have almost no finance, so we’re letting it happen on a day to day basis. But our project manager just got employed by a big company here in Iceland, which we’re very proud of even though we now need to find a replacement.”

 

Presentation: Marcos Zotes (IS) – Projection as an Urban Activator

Hailing from Madrid, Marcos Zotes now lives and works in Reykjavik, and is the founder and principal of UNSTABLE, a design and research laboratory that explores the social and political aspects of architecture in relation to the urban context.

A former young graffiti artist and skater, one of his main concerns is the reclamation of public space through “interventions”, often using a projector.

Among the projects we were shown was his projection of an eyeball on an old abandoned water tower in New York (to mimic CCTV), the projection of light from CCTV cameras in Reykjavik, transforming the sphere of surveillance into a temporary spotlight for ordinary citizens to pass through.

His largest recent project was to project choreography and colours and patterns onto Reyjkavik’s main church, Hallgrimskirkja, in order to make a “dead urban space” active again and make inhabitants perhaps re-prioritise their perception of public space in general.

Another project, YOUR TEXT HERE, enabled citizens to text a message to a website and have it projected onto public buildings. When the library of his campus wouldn’t let him do so, and put in restrictions, Marcos took it upon himself to first set up his own projector and do it anyway, and also to take it to Detroit where 1000 people wrote texts over two nights.

“Public space has become an arena for debate,” he says, “and this project gave me a glimpse of what public space could be, and that it must be fought for and defended.”

Presentation: Mads Høbye (DK) – Collaborating through digital sketching in a creative community

Mads Høbye is part of a project called Illutron, a community of creative people who have taken over a 50-year-old barge on Copenhagen’s south harbour and used it to build large-scale interactive installations.

Mads described how the project’s members are a chaotic mix of artists, designers, performers, programmers, electricians, musicians and electronics wizards.

The group started with two primary values: to create a community around the creative artistic usage of technology, and to build an open platform where individuals could explore their own curiosity.

Although there are no rules to the organisation, there are “values”, such as:-

  • The person who acts upon something decides on it
  • We pull together as a team
  • Everyone is an artist hence nobody is an artist

Projects range in size, from small to large, and so far have included designing colour-changing balloons for festivals, space rockets (by CPH Suborbitals) that can fly into space, and an underwater bath. There is zero funding but any of the projects that make money must put 10% back into the barge.

The advantages, says Mads, are that a “shared identity enables you to share ideas more openly; a value-driven organisation enables organic flow; and a space that has a focus on curiosity instead of purpose is much less limited as you don’t have to justify everything.”

Challenges include being dependent on the project forerunners, and involuntary exclusion through technical skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presentation: Tracey Moberly (UK) – Practice and Politics

Tracey Moberly‘s presentation followed her development as an artist and activist and eventual co-owner of legendary bar/gallery The Foundry.

A lecturer in Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, Tracey is known for the activist nature of her work and the wide variety of materials she works in. She has staged several exhibitions of her work in texts, and recently published the book ‘Text Me Up!’ based on her life and text messages.

Running a background of (mostly lo res) images that visually depict her travels and projects, Tracey talked about her Text Me Up project, which started off as “little sugar rushes” that helped her get through a relationship crisis and have now turned into a book.

Her work as co-owner of The Foundry, her activism taking on companies like Coca Cola and Saatchi & Saatchi (“no issue is too big or too small”) and her commitment to mass participation, social media and the grassroots dissemination of information.

 

Panel: Creatives Into The Future

This panel was about a big topic: the current global challenges currently facing humankind, and how creative individuals can offer solutions.

Moderated by Peter Dreyer, the panel was made up of CCP’s Andie Nordgren (IS), Bossa Studio’s Roberta Lucca (UK) and Erling Björgvinsson (SWE). The session began with the question of what kind of responsibility do each of the panelists have in each of their respective realms.

Roberta says she has a mission to create more jobs that allow people to be more creative and transform their skills into something offered to a lot of people around the world, and in her role as a games creator and producer, to connect people.

Andie immediately saw a problem with the question, asking who are the “we” and also the inherent paradox and privilege of discussing the issue in an expensive building in a first world city. Admitting her day job was “making the technology that powers the toys for 30-year-old white guys in the western world,” she also pointed out positives such as replacing more passive media habits like television, and how games can be a “medium of meaningfulness”.

Erling, a researcher at Medea – The Collaborative Media Initiative and an Associate Professor in Interaction design at The School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University, enjoyed the idea of Eve Online’s community management and suggested seeing this in the real political world. He emphasised the restrictions of responsibility for designers and how that should be accepted that governments should accept their own share of this responsibility.

The audience put some questions to the panel, such as how can the community-empowered technology be translated into what governments are doing and influence real lives in our societies? As Erling pointed out, although IT and media are quick, “government is slow and it should be. democracy is about checks and balances…”

More socially-concerened questions included would the games producers be willing to throw it all away in order to make the world a better place instead, and have the games producers thought about the effects of their games on the life of individuals. The answer? Yes, the reputation of social gaming can be bad but it is often misunderstood. Games like Merlin (created by Bossa Studios) and Eve Online (CCP) are actually based much more on collaboration and cooperation than many might think.

Andie ended the panel with an ultimately positive sentence about gamification: “Game is the best way today, in terms of a media format, to tell people that you are supposed to do something.”

 

Presentation: Johan Uhle (GER) Music Hack Day Reykjavik

An upbeat presentation from Johan Uhle looked at the attractions of Music Hack Day, an international series of events, where programmers, designers and artists come together to prototype new software, hardware or instruments within 24 hours.

The event started was in London in 2009 and since then has travelled the world, with its first stop in Reykjavík recently (October 27-28th 2012), supported by the likes of Spotify and Soundcloud. The events are sponsored, free for attendees, and all rights are retained by the hackers.

He explained how MHD hosts workshops where people give presentations about various platforms that can spark ideas. Everyone helps each other, and it’s exciting to have 100 people in a room all building something. “If you have a problem, there’s always someone that can help.”

Johan talked about the beneficial aspects of MHD – learning, building, socialising. For him personally, the creation is “the biggest feeling of happiness…better than chocolate”. He talked about how fast inspiration cycles in technology are these days, and how in 2007 it would have taken a weekend to build a website, it can now be done in under an hour.
Building a global community is a big reason for hosting these events, but one of the biggest benefits on a creative level is “fast creation” – using trial and error to build better things and applying those to everyday businesses and practices.

 

Presentation: Andie Nordgren (IS) – Shaping Reality

Andie Nordgren, Senior Technical Producer at Iceland’s CCP games, talked about how the web services and technology created by designers shape our reality and how this could develop into the future.

Using CCP’s main product, Eve Online, Andie started out with three key layers of experience:

  • Person
  • Player
  • Character

These are blurry lines yet important to understanding the virtual world that a games designer creates. It’s important to remember that there are humans there, whose reality you are shaping.

Users are often not aware of themselves as users. For example, on Facebook, while most people simply use it but don’t think about being a “Facebook User”, when Facebook changes a feature users then become self-aware and begin to protest. “When people see the Matrix, things can get political”.

As a designer, if you want to shape reality, you need to think about all these layers and what is your purpose. You need to think about how to create a service designed to effect the person, and sometimes the real-life consequences. If you don’t think about this, users may decide they want control anyway.

For this purpose, Andie stressed the usefulness of Community Management, which manifests at Eve Online as a player-elected council, where players can run campaigns to be on a Board of Players who consult with the designers of the game on how to run the virtual universe.

Andie ended her presentation with a piece of advice about not messing too much with pre-existing social contracts. Remembering that there are people behind the users means you should be carfeful about not making them uncomfortable or afraid. Break the old formats if you like – but make sure you have a new model for people to understand.

Presentation: Peter Dreyer (DK) on Ideation

Today’s opening presentation came from Peter Dreyer from Copenhagen. 207cm tall, a writer of Sci-Fi, entrepreneur and former astronomer, Peter talked about the concept of creativity in general making various essential points, such as “there is no creative class” and “alone we are not that special – but in a crowd we can be”.

Drawing on various examples of creativity in history, such as the Medici family in Florence, Peter points out that they weren’t necessarily a special creative class, more just given the opportunity to explore creative opportunities.

The main thing to think about in this crowd scenario, he says, is where one’s role can be – where can we best add something? This might not need special skills, but is nonetheless an essential part of the process, i.e. providing inspiration for ideas or helping to implement them.

Using more contemporary examples, such as Crisiscommons, an interdisciplinary crowd that helps provide solutions to crises, Peter makes the point that the idea of the creative class is being replaced by the crowd and it’s wisdom. Important things in this context include creating a “cross pollination of ideas”, which give the means of enriching the original ideas.

In order to lend more potential to the creative industry, it’s important to not just have the idea but implement it — and to experience the inevitable failures along the way. Going beyond this and supporting other industries in finding the right path to success is also key to keeping innovation on track.

Peter ended by describing his innovative FOKUSCOPE, a “Darwinistic way of creating solutions”. We will see later in the conference how registered YAIC participants can work together to find interesting solutions to all kinds of creative problems, large and small.

 

 

 

 

Q&A Erling Björgvinsson (Malmö högskola)

Erling Björgvinsson is a researcher at Medea – The Collaborative Media Initiative and an Associate Professor in Interaction design at The School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. At Medea he is a manager of a lab that that focuses collaborative cultural production through design-lead and art-lead research where academics, professionals, and citizens co-produce.

Erling has for the last five years been engaged in developing methodologies for how innovation can move out from the university and specialized R&D labs and connect to the surrounding society with the aim of democratizing innovation. His research area is in design and art methodology and specifically on collabora­tive and participatory design-lead research. He has published articles, amongst other, in CoDesign – International Journal of CoCreation in Design, Design Issues, and Journal of Arts and Communities.

What can you tell us about Medea and what you do there?

Medea is a research center focused on collaborative media and collaborative design at Malmö University. The thematic areas that the center currently works on are social innovation and urban development, Internet of things, and cultural production. I run a small cultural lab where I work to connect cultural actors and institutions with IT and media companies and researchers to explore and develop new expressions, services and products to see if they can grow into bigger research projects full scale productions. We sometimes call it pre-projecting, as “incubators” do not engage themselves at such an early stage.

“Innovation” seems like a much used phrase these days: how do you define it?

Yes, “innovation” is a worn out word and perhaps ironically a lot of the innovation texts and talks on the subject are unimaginative and likeminded. The speaking of the future tense tends to make people forget that we are steeped in the past and build upon it. The whole new frontier rhetoric is quite colonial as it sees new territories as unpopulated, which they never are. My take on it is that it needs to be broadened and include more than just market-driven and profit perspectives that dominate the discourse today. Andrew Barry talks about how this could include to what degree a practice opens up to new possibilities. Lucy Suchman, who has greatly inspired my thinking, has written about how “future-making” can be seen as the disruption of particular arrangements of interests and that we need to acknowledge how research and development is not the making of discrete objects, but a network of relations that both contains alliances and contesters.

What are a couple of greatest/best innovations you’ve seen in the last year, worldwide?

I am bit reluctant to single out an innovation because innovations come about through collective work that happens in many places at once. The person, institution or company that gets the credit is often the one that is lucky enough to be able to pull together the right resources at the right time and leverage it. Work that I have been inspired is how Srishti, The School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore a year ago started an innovation lab with the aim to build frugal products together with the citizen innovators that “innovations scouters” from The National Innovation Foundation have discovered. Laura Wattson’s interesting study on innovation in the Orkney Islands too, as innovation is too often associated with research center situated in big cities. I also find the work on social innovation and sustainable design by, for example, François Jégou and Ezio Manzini inspiring. In Malmö, where I live, Apokalyps Labotek’s sustainable design work along these lines as their soap made out recycled falafel oil or their parquet made of recycled car tiers testify. I also find small groups working towards openness and sharing, organized cooperatives and “commons groups” such as Openwear motivating, as the growth of small enterprise is too low.

Have you been to YAIC before? 

No, it is my first time. I am expecting to hear engaging informed talks and to meet people that strongly believe in what they do. If I am lucky I will also get to meet future collaborators and co-conspirators. The conference is interesting as it has an international scope, but is also anchored in the Icelandic context. Iceland is my mother country, which I have lived away from more than half of my life. So Iceland means catching up with family and friends, hearing my mother tongue spoken, getting stacks of Icelandic literature and music, listening to the soothing weather and fishing reports while eating a good hearted meal with my parents, strolling down Laugavegurinn and on occasion going to the countryside. I love in particular staring at the sky while laying in a “bolli.”

What will you be talking about at YAIC 2012?

My talk will be on how we at Medea have worked towards moving the research and development out into the city of Malmö so that citizens, NGO’s and companies are given the opportunity to participate in making the future. Given that IT and media pervades every aspect of our life and plays an important role in the many public spheres that makes up society, we have tried to find ways to create a more democratic and inclusive model so that not only the strong and mighty, but the diversity of the city has a say. My talk will be about the qualities of such a work, but also some of the difficulties and shortcomings. As I have worked with cultural production the examples will concern, film, music and literature.

 

 

 

Q&A with Peter Dreyer of Fokuscope

Peter Dreyer, astronomer with a PhD in artificial intelligence, has spent more than 20 years in the IT industry in a range of companies from telecoms providers, over internet startups to innovation consultancies.

For the past 10 years he has worked as an open innovation expert for select international clients across industries. Peter has co-founded a number of IT-startups including the ideation tool developer FOKUSCOPE. He is board member in the Danish association of IT-professionals (DIT). He is also a part-writer and has published two science thrillers.

Your bio says you are an astronomer. How did that happen and how do you incorporate that into your work today?

Astronomy and research among the planets, stars and galaxies – and loads of even more exotic objects – in the endless depths of space was a boyhood dream. The dream never quite left me, but after having spent time in the late eighties looking for extrasolar planets (planet orbiting other stars; it took another ten years for the first to be discovered) I realized that I didn’t have the genius nor the persistence to contribute at the frontier of science. I moved on to the IT world and eventually combined that topic with innovation. I still pursue the old passion in the novels I write – they are thrillers set in a scene where I speculate in manipulating the laws of nature – just a little bit…

Being a modern-time astronomer you have to be extremely open-minded. Typically the environments you study are so alien and so extreme that when you attempt to describe the structures you observe there are no familiar frameworks to apply, there is nothing Earthlike to compare with. When involved in front-end innovation I believe that my background allows me to be comfortable working with “wild ideas” with a “why not” smile…

Your current project is FOKUS scope – what can you tell us about that?

Fokuscope (fokuscope.com) is a platform for collaborative front-end innovation inspired by Frans Johansson’s book “The Medici-effect”. It is all about mixing competencies and cross-pollinating ideas in an innovative context. That is basically what Fokuscope is about; facilitating ideation. There is a lot of platforms today offering themselves to crowdsourced innovation, but the strength of Fokuscope is that it is forcing cross-pollination in a highly structured way. It unfolds the multidisciplinary, multi-cultural, multi-whatever creative power of the the group coming together on the platform to produce solutions for specified challenges.

How will you fit this in with YAIC 2012?

Often when you attend a conference you don’t prepare yourself until the very last minute and even then it may be a somewhat mediocre effort. Our idea is that all attendees receive a login to the platform with an urgent request to provide some input on the platform – for others to build upon. So we are urging all attendees to invest some efforts well ahead of the conference formulating thoughts to share with others and vice versa. In this way you could say that the conference starts weeks ahead of the physical gathering in Reykjavik.

What kind of results do you expect?

That is impossible to say! But we can be certain that if the YAIC participants are committed, then we will in collaboration – ahead of the conference – formulate and prioritize the most popular and demanding global challenges that creatives may contribute to solutions for. During the conference the platform will be applied to produce responses – or at least parts of responses to thoes challenges. It is impossible to predict the nature of these responses, but beyond doubt they will represent the focussed collective intelligence of the YAIC crowd.

You’ll be talking about other stuff too, right? 

The focus of my talk is the role of creatives in innovation, but I will also be talking about superstrings, the voyager space probes, chocolate bars and other only vaguely related subjects. I really don’t expect to talk much about Fokuscope. By the time we get to the conference all attendees should be familiar with the platform and there won’t be much else to add.

Have you been to Iceland before? 

I visited Iceland back in 1989 as part of the Danish national basketball-team playing at the Nordic Championship (I think we finished last…) and again two years ago for YAIC 2010. I remember that conference as being superb in terms of how the organizers managed to mix the audience and facilitate dialogue. I hope that YAIC 2012 will be as intense an experience.

Q&A with Tracey Moberly [Speaker, YAIC 2012]

Tracey Moberly at The Tate, by Johnny Green

You seem to do an awful lot of things. How do you describe what you do to people at dinner parties?
 
When people ask what I do, I begin by saying I’m a Welsh artist, author & activist, lecturing in Fine Art, Interactive Arts, Communication Media design and Politics living in London. If people are interested I’d go on to say I’m an interdisciplinary and cross-platform artist, radio show producer/host; regular guest on BBC Radio London and was co-owner of legendary art and music hangout, the Foundry, in Shoreditch, London. If there are any questions I’d speak further about my art, practice and theory and would describe it as Socio-political. The conversation then switches to different projects and campaigns I have realised with my art practice. My website is www.text-me-up.com
 
Can you explain Text Me Up a bit?

Text-Me-Up! is a book that has been recently published and available on Amazon. It is also a large arts project with regular exhibitions I have been working on. I have saved every text apart from the first one since 1999. The book is split into 3 written narratives. The text messages I have received begin and end every chapter – selected randomly and written chronologically; the second narrative is autobiographical woven around the selected received texts and the third is an on-going i-Phone narrative from different people who were texting me as I was writing the book – sometimes changing the flow of the story. There are 2,500 photos/images in the book.

What excites you most about Twitter/social media today?

The social and political structuring being formed by social networking  – along with the psychology behind individual structures, the speed and immediacy of it is what interests me the most about Twitter and social media currently. Everything from the use of this technology in the Arab Spring to the organising of a school reunion. I am very interested in how ‘text mining’ the content within social media can predict real-world outcomes. For example how the content from tweets can forecast cinema box office revenues and how this too can be manipulated to dictate music due to be released. Within the making of new work I also like the mix of mediums incorporating the power of social media networks and the new boundaries that lay as yet unchartered.

My last two art projects were based on social networking and Twitter, also incorporating other traditional media. One was in Manchester with students from the Politics Department of Manchester Metropolitan University and the other in London at Tate Modern as part of the launch of their new space The Tanks.

‘TWEET-ME-UP! at The Tate Tanks is an extension of Text-Me-Up! It is a mass participation installation and exhibition generated by social networking sites. I included work from 160 artists and musicians who responded to a request I put on my facebook page. I included at least one piece from each submission – and exhibited it in The Tate Modern. As the project grew through social media I only knew about half the people. Contributions came from Uzbekistan to Eastern Siberia via New Jersey. I hope to tour this show – the work can all be seen and heard on www.tweet-me-up.com and an app is currently under construction which will invite more people to contribute as it tours.

Do artists have a duty to explore the digital domain? Are there enough artists doing so or should there be more?
 
I don’t think artists necessarily have a duty to explore the digital domain as different artists work within different mediums of their own choosing. I do however think that the digital domain is like a vast virtually uncharted new universe on offer to many artists. It offers both traditional and new tools affordable to the majority of those established and those just starting to explore this as a career path. The mobile (i-Phone) is my pallet and paint for
canvas and print; a recording device for producing my large scale sonogram canvases; also the pen and paper for writing and researching my new book, along with documenting aspects for it. As my digital camera and computer it provides me with the tools to sustain a regular income further allowing me explore new unchartered territories with my phone. Many artists are starting to work in this way. Speedy advances in new technology are inviting more artists to work in this way in a cross-platform and internetworked format.

Any predictions for the (short term or long term) future in the overlaps of technology and art?

New movements within traditional arts fields expressing alternative perspectives and re-exploring how we originally perceived a particular scene or event that the artist captures and represents. More people creating who perhaps otherwise wouldn’t have without these new digital devices with their advancements at their fingertips. I think that the development of ‘peer to peer social networking’ groups will start generating new domains and work. There will be a need to employ reforms and reviews in galleries and museums focused on the overlaps of new technology and art as people are gravitating to cross platform formats. New subject matters will be explored and different ways of viewing these through new technology.

For example a recent project I have started contributing to with physicist Lily Asquith uses data from the Large Hadron Collider at Cern to generate images and sound. Another example is the sculptural artworks being produced using Fortus production systems which were designed for engineers. When utilised by artists works are being created from perspectives that were previously unable to be worked by the human hand. Cheap desktop 3D printers are going to make this practice commonplace. The manufacture and production of the Raspberry Pi open computing platform with downloadable Linux distributions will also revolutionise work in the overlap between art and technology as these systems are cheaper than most mobile phones and are being introduced into schools in huge numbers.

What will you be talking about at YAIC 2012?

The challenges and opportunities that our economy and the human race will face in the next ten years. This will look at the environment, population growth, the increase of digital communication and personalities – focusing on how creatives will be able to help solve problems that occur within these subjects. Also looking at whether it is the responsibility of the creatives to contribute with solutions.

Have you been to Iceland before? 
 
No I have not been to Iceland before so very much looking forward to my first visit there. The main reason being the geography and geology of the Island and the visuals this produces. I’m looking forward to observing the socio-political dynamics of the country and the effect this has on the social fabric there. The fact that it is one of the most technologically advanced and digitally – connected countries in the world and the effect this has on it’s community being part of the latter. It’s reputation proclaiming it to be the most ‘female friendly country’ on the planet as well as the world’s most feminist country also sparks much interest for me on gender equality, making it very different from any other country I have visited. It is being currently dubbed the ‘possible hipster capital’ of the world with a vibrant cool music scene – which again really interests me following living and working in Shoreditch, London. I’m also very much looking forward to experiencing the arts and architecture of Reykjavík.

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