Artists have always been at the forefront of defining the culture of the day, how we communicate with each other and about ourselves. Until the rise of Silicon Valley. Where Plato's Academy used to be the ultimate place of learning, mentoring, and making, now it's Y Combinator. Stravinsky's concerts started riots, now Twitter helps quell them. Picasso's cubism changed how we saw the world, now that honor belongs to the likes of Google and MakerBot.
And yet artists are making phenomenal works of art using the very bits of technology that have in large part supplanted their role of kingmaker/culturemaker. So what happens when dancers use 3D imaging, opera companies make mobile apps, museums turn to GitHub, & robots become actors? This session will explore more than one hundred case studies of artists and arts organizations using (and in some cases, failing to use) technology to comment on society, to make your neighborhood a better place to live, and to run their business.
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
Working now for digital agency Threespot
But also for arts orgs for the past 10 years
Often on how they can better use technology: on stage, in the back oﬃce, connecting with audiences.
Last year NEA asked me to highlight what bright spots & blank spots in the intersection of arts/tech
Excuse to research and speak with a bunch of artists & arts orgs about what they’re working on
the arts ﬁeld must better leverage
technology to stay relevant.
artists are exploring technology
as an art form.
arts orgs are now in competition
with audiences & tech companies.
arts administrators should adopt
a maker approach.
After looking at several hundred different examples, I took away four big concepts, some obvious, others less so
1. Number of arts orgs is growing faster than audiences. In many cases, (in person) audiences are shrinking. Yet people interact w/ culture now more than ever. In a world of YouTube and MakerFairs, the traditional arts ﬁeld needs to better integrate technology into our
2. Experimentation among solo artists, especially installation artists. Technology is still a novelty. We’re less than a decade into any sort of new movement, it’s too early to tell how long lasting tech will change the art form itself, not just the administrative side.
3. Technology has also democratized the means of creation and distribution. It’s given more power to the audience to determine the experience they want, and the availability and use of data has put tech companies themselves in the driver seat of matching audience to
art. The art critics recommendation isn’t as important.
4. Professional administrators aren’t equipped to effectively use technology. They’re not exposed in MFA programs, on the job, or in arts conferences. But opportunities for learning abound, if they go just slightly out of their comfort zone.
That’s really what this presentation is about. Trying to show arts ﬁeld where tech opportunities are, and showing tech world where collaboration opportunities exist in the arts.
7 areas where technology is fundamentally shifting the art world
most examples launched in the past year, or still under development
so many don’t have good “results” captured yet
broad overview bounces between artists, arts orgs, from marketing to making
included orgs twitter handle so you can connect with them directly
organizations struggle, artists innovate.
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
social media is changing how we…
make and interpret art, empower audiences, distribute content, and who we consider partners
artists as innovators
SLIDE: artists as innovators (@CIIDnews)
ORG: Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design:
PROJECT: Walk up to an iPad, tweet, sends message via morse code as a light signal across the bay to another device that reads the light, and prints to twitter
REASON: social media as the vehicle for artistic production more typical by installation artists where technology is embedded in the experience, often Twitter.
Better Left Unsaid Livestreamed interactive theatre: http://betterleftunsaid.tv/2010/09/09/owen-panettieri-nyc-fringe-playwright-actor-blogger-and-unsaid-backer/
Foursquare recreation of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: http://mashable.com/2010/06/02/chicago-foursquare-giveaway/
appeal to amateurs
SLIDE: appeal to amateurs (@tribecaﬁlmfest)
ORG: Tribeca Film Festival
PROJECT: 2nd annual Vine Fest was an intentional appeal to amateurs, though many submissions came from experienced ﬁlmmakers.
REASON: Constraints of the social platforms (shorter = cheaper) force new experimentation.
Twitter-enabled story telling: https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2015/01/writing-a-choose-your-own-adventure-story-on-twitter/
Bruno Ribeiro’s meta-critique on social media as an art form: http://reallifeinstagram.com/
lower barriers to entry
SLIDE: lowers barriers to entry (@sfmoma)
ORG: SF Moma
PROJECT: Shut down website temporarily & used Tumblr as their CMS
REASON: Social media enables anyone, org or individual artist to promote and distribute their work. This has increased the competition for attention in an already crowded ﬁeld.
organizations are adapting
SLIDE: organizations are adapting (@LACMA)
PROJECT: First museum on Snapchat
REASON: Successful social media demands a unique tone, adapted to a new social medium/audience, puts conservative institutions at a disadvantage because they can’t take themselves quite so seriously.
collaborate with networks
SLIDE: collaborate with networks (@twitteruk)
ORG: Twitter UK
PROJECT: sponsored #LoveTheatre day to get UK arts organizations actively in conversation with their audience. 400k tweets w/ #LT
REASON: Twitter, Tumblr, and Kickstarter each have dedicated staff members supporting cultural organizations use of the platforms. We should take better advantage of them as resources to form collaborative partnerships.
Cultural Digital —> Reddit for the arts: http://culturaldigital.com/
structure your data
SLIDE: structure your data (@foursquare)
PROJECT: Foursquare knows that I check into arts organizations more often than shopping malls, so it sent me this email the day before black friday, recommending 4 arts orgs I should visit in DC over the holidays.
REASON: Social media companies more indirectly promoting arts, by knowing data about your habits and afﬁnities. Coming from a third party source made this recommendation more compelling. Arts organizations need to structure their data to be more easily
consumable by these networks.
right here and now to anywhere anytime.
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
multimedia is changing…
when, where, how, and who has the opportunity to experience an artistic production.
This often means adding a nontraditional media experience on top of a live performance.
SLIDE: portability of the experience (@forumtheatre)
ORG: Forum Theatre
PROJECT: Podcast Play, best experienced in the location where the play takes place around DC
REASON: Theatre is no longer bound to a collective gathering space, or necessarily requires your full & undivided attention. Podcasting is the ultimate multi-tasking media.
movement in any direction
SLIDE: movement in any direction (@marshmallowlf)
ORG: Marshmallow Laser Feast
PROJECT: Project Daedalus adds drones as an artistic vehicle for projection screens. Audience engages remotely, while the art moves around them.
REASON: Theatre effects have been bound by pulley systems and ﬁxed lighting arrangements. Drones allow for movement in any direction, and easily breaks the fourth wall between artist & audience.
SLIDE: inclusive devices (@TalkingStatueUK)
ORG: Sing London
PROJECT: Talking Statues exhibit in London. Swipe phone over tag posted at statue, and it will call you to give historical narrative of the person represented.
REASON: Enlists a pedestrian piece of technology to turns static objects into interactive pieces of art.
Kennedy Center’s OK Go concert - http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/multimedia/series/videostories/ok-go-at-kc
adding an interpretative layer
SLIDE: adding an interpretive layer (@PhilaOrchestra)
ORG: Philadelphia Orchestra
PROJECT: LiveNote app provides visual notes about the performance, Shazaam-like technology
REASON: For those audiences who need more than just an aural experience to stay engaged with the art
interacting with artists
SLIDE: interacting with artists (@carnegiehall)
ORG: Carnegie Hall
PROJECT: Livestream concerts & classes
REASON: Allows for international, interactive participation. Old joke “How do you get to carnegie hall” has a new answer.
time-shifted and space-shifted
SLIDE: time-shifted & space-shifted (@The_Globe)
ORG: Shakespeare’s Globe
PROJECT: Globe Player - professional recordings of live performances you can subscribe to Netﬂix-style, or purchase one off.
REASON: Live performance can be preserved, organizations can earn revenue from them, and audiences can choose whether to watch live or recorded. (Rent or own, 4-8 lbs)
On the Boards TV in Seattle offers many different performances & arts orgs: http://www.ontheboards.tv/
mediate artistic experience before, during, and after
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
mobile apps are changing…
what is possible before, during & after a performance/visit
embedded in the artistic experience—in performing & visual arts,
SLIDE: personalized content (@pepysinc)
ORG: Threespot folks, at DC Fringe Festival
PROJECT: live performance built around the e-Geaux mobile app. Audiences downloaded app & connected their social accounts, performance would change based on user’s data, incorporating the names of their Facebook friends as characters, determine plot points
based on how many single people were in the audience, and asked audiences to participate with characters onstage using their social media handles.
REASON: Imagine tailoring the experience of the performance to the unique needs of every person in the audience.
Mood App - Tour the Amsterdam Museum based on your mood: http://www.stedelijk.nl/mobile-apps/mood-app & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V36x13iCmtQ
artist as builder
SLIDE: artist as builder (@miranda_july)
ORG: Miranda July
PROJECT: Somebody app (currently being rebuilt) Turns your friends & people around you into ‘performers’ by giving them tasks to complete and lines to say
REASON: Takes participatory arts to an extreme. No way to create this experience if the artist doesn’t deeply understand what’s possible with technology.
technology as playwright
SLIDE: technology as playwright (@blasttheory)
ORG: Blast Theory
PROJECT: Karen - narrative experience, based on a voice over app that learns about you and adapts the storyline as you go. Think of ScarJo in Her.
REASON: Rise of artiﬁcial intelligence makes it possible for technology itself to theoretically become a playwright.
augment your reality
SLIDE: augment your reality (@insaland)
ORG: Street artist INSA
PROJECT: The Cycle of Futility - public mural I stumbled across in Shoreditch London that can be animated through an augmented reality app
REASON: Screens we have in our pockets allows us to mediate static works of art, what will happen when we’re wearing devices and the whole world is mediated through a screen?
Re+Public: last year’s SXSW - http://www.republiclab.com/projects
inspire educational opportunities
SLIDE: inspire educational opportunities (@NMNH)
ORG: Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History
PROJECT: Skin & Bones app - 13 different AR experiences based on the museum’s collections, many of them animated. Hold your hand out to a spider in front of the app, and it looks like the spider is crawling up your arm. 2 years to build, largest collection of 3D
modeling in any iPhone app.
REASON: Audiences aren’t just looking at artifacts behind a glass, now they (digitally) interact with them. Game changer for educational opportunities.
Kennedy Center iPad app prepares kids on autism spectrum for what to expect during the performanceL https://www.gettoknowthekc.org/stories/welcome
SLIDE: real time marketing (@idatorg)
ORG: collaboration of several museums in Plymouth England, built by iDAT
PROJECT: Artory - digital loyalty card, purpose began with how to collect data about culture goers
REASON: real time user data will enable arts orgs to better market and engage visitors
distributed, temporary, and competitive.
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
how we learn is changing…
digital enables new opportunities for professional development, but also puts arts organizations into more direct competition with technology companies
distributed network of colleagues
SLIDE: distributed network of colleagues (@2amt)
ORG: 2am theatre
PROJECT: #2amt - the conversations you have at 2am about the theatre industry, 5-year anniversary
REASON: ongoing twitter chat of people who work in the theatre in some capacity, breaks down walls between disciplines, geography, organizations. When networking and learning can be 24/7, industry conferences are questioning their purpose. Has inspired a blog,
several events and collaborations. Has a strong community organizer.
SLIDE: rapid prototyping (@culturehack)
ORG: Culture Hack
PROJECT: organizes hack days around the world that put artists and technologists together to create something
REASON: Arts organizations need more exposure to the tools and practices of technology, in order to make their own improvements in the future
art under pressure
SLIDE: art under pressure (@theartincubator)
ORG: The Art Incubator
PROJECT: 8 week residency program in Singapore, structured like a Y-Combinator, concludes in a demo day/gallery show
REASON: Proliferation of arts incubators in the past few years, but most are missing some crucial element of: dedicated/funded time & space, access to industry experts/mentors, or enforced urgency to have a ﬁnal product
SLIDE: embedding experimentors (@synchq)
PROJECT: Geek in Residence - funds a technologist to be in residence with an arts org for 6 months, and experiment with them, document it
REASON: knowledge about technology can be infused into the organization through a temporary expert, to kickstart the org onto a new path.
outsource learning technology
SLIDE: outsource learning technology (@googleart)
ORG: Google Cultural Institute
PROJECT: offer a digital gallery space to showcase exhibits/performances, street view cameras into cultural spaces, white label app for museum tours
REASON: Google can provide a higher production capability for all of these things than most arts organizations will be able to learn/invest in, but some complaints from arts orgs that it’s hard to yield control over to Google without knowing exactly what they’re going to
do with the data. Still lots of copyright issues for theatrical performances.
audience as competitor
SLIDE: audience as competitor (@museumhack)
ORG: Hack the Met
PROJECT: tours of the Met Museum led by young people, for young people, unlike any other museum tour. Small groups, participatory, short, thematic.
REASON: Users are marketing for arts organizations, but they can also compete with their offering. Arts professionals are learning how to do their job better by paying attention to how audiences do it for each other.
AirBnB is a competitor (& an ally) to performance arts/events - http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/16/airbnb-experiences/
audience as maker, curator, and free labor.
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
technology is changing…
the role, responsibility, and opportunities of the audience
audiences as artists
SLIDE: audience as artist (@Tate)
ORG: Tate Modern
PROJECT: Drawing Bar - draw interpretations of the artwork you’ve just seen, and see it projected on the museum’s sacred walls
REASON: Giving an audience agency into the creation process makes them more invested in the institution, necessary for ﬁeld’s survival.
model behavior you expect
SLIDE: model behavior you expect (@Tate)
ORG: Tate Modern
PROJECT: hired Minecraft mapmakers to interpret works of art and build replicas in Minecraft. First exhibit was on cities. Asked audiences to contribute.
REASON: as arts organizations ask more from their audiences, they’re going to need to model some of the behavior they want, especially for non-traditional audiences. Anyone who’s run a UGC campaign knows you can get tons of drek, and a few gems. This helps
increase the gems.
SLIDE: nonlinear storytelling (@blasttheory)
ORG: Shefﬁeld Documentary Film Festival
PROJECT: I’d Hide You - join actors IRL or by playing online, as seen through cameras mounted on them. Half theatre, half live action video game.
REASON: When audience participates, don’t just expect diversions from a linear storyline, build them into the narrative. Digital allows for multiple storylines to happen simultaneously.
Coney’s Better Than Life - Online controls aspects of storyline & design; live audiences at their mercy
audience as curator
SLIDE: audience as curator (@thehenryford)
ORG: Henry Ford Museum
PROJECT: Exhibit Builder - allows audiences to build their own exhibits based on artifacts in the museum’s collection
REASON: educational opportunity for students to consider role of curator
audience as contributor
SLIDE: audience as contributor (@I_W_M)
ORG: Imperial War Museum
PROJECT: Museum-goers contribute their family genealogy & ID photos at the end of the exhibit
REASON: increases engagement with the work, and it lightens load on a museum’s research staff
crowdsource for diversity
SLIDE: crowdsource for diversity (#Wikiturgy)
ORG: Sparked by a 2amt event in DC last year
PROJECT: #Wikiturgy Wikipedia edit-a-thon for theatre historians (dramaturgs)
REASON: Crowdsource knowledge into a distributed platform, adding to, editing, and creating entries for theatre artists, plays, companies, journalists/critics, and scholars from underrepresented groups. Enables arts orgs to expand voices.
Crowdsourcing transcription for Smithsonian digital collections: https://transcription.si.edu
who has access, what they do, and when it becomes art.
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
technology is changing…data
who: internal, peers, audience, tech co’s,
Rise of data scientist/analyst positions within arts organizations
trade dollars for data
SLIDE: trade dollars for data (@DallasMuseumArt)
ORG: Dallas Museum of Art
PROJECT: Friends Program. Membership was 5% of budget; made free to all people if they log activity (kiosk/text/card, earn badges, rewards), use data to target marketing, appeal to donors, and adapt museum layout/offerings. 100k people in 2 years.
REASON: Major museums are now hiring data scientists.
SLIDE: public accountability (@smithsonian)
PROJECT: public dashboard of limited activity
REASON: Transparency is important to perception
Optimiser. Benchmarking New Zealand arts organizations google analytics data
SLIDE: data democratizes (@newplayx)
ORG: New Play Exchange
PROJECT: meeting place for creators, selectors, funders; trying to get better data about what’s available & what’s being used in the theatre world.
REASON: Previously this exchange was a black box, and too often a “winner take all”
scale requires data
SLIDE: scale requires data (@opencultuurdata)
ORG: Open Culture Data
PROJECT: collection of cultural datasets for Dutch arts organizations
REASON: allow anyone to create apps that leverage the combined data on objects
Cooper Hewitt in NYC has re-opened/re-launched, and built their entire infrastructure on top of an API
data as art
SLIDE: data as art (@webwewantfest)
ORG: Web We Want Festival in London
PROJECT: Open Data Playground- data artist took open source data sets and created analog games to help audiences explore the data.
REASON: Use art to make data more approachable.
Berlin musicians (onformative), to create a soundscape based on movements of dancers: http://www.onformative.com/work/unnamed-soundsculpture/
data empowers artists
SLIDE: data empowers artists (@LesiaTG)
ORG: Lesia Trubat (Spanish artist)
PROJECT: Lilypad Arduino enabled ballet shoes track a dancer’s movement
REASON: For them to review later, for audiences to have a visual experience of performance
replace and augment human interactions.
#ArtsHacker | @devonvsmith
technology is changing…
humans aren’t the only ones acting as artist, curator, or audience.
now screens & AI
most of these are still a novelty
SLIDE: transparent interpretation (@LavaDesignLab)
ORG: Lava Lab, in cola w/ Amsterdam Museum
PROJECT: The Golden Age, explore the social connections between real people represented in paintings
REASON: Google glass allows for a deeper dive into content, iBeacons allow you to target content indoors.
SLIDE: touchable art (@cooperhewitt)
ORG: Cooper Hewitt
PROJECT: pen. allows visitors to capture their experience & sent via email, and interact w/ exhibits (wallpaper repeated patterns)
REASON: smart devices gives new tools to audiences to engage with the museum’s collection
Fitbit for artists, to coach them to spend more time on art: http://www.parttimeclock.com/
Performing Arts in the Wearable Age: http://static.squarespace.com/static/51d98be2e4b05a25fc200cbc/t/5392084de4b0037d4d325314/1402079309465/ThomasRhodesSamuelAllen_PerformingArtsInTheWearableAge_6.6.2014.pdf
replace the irreplaceable
SLIDE: replace the irreplaceable (@V_and_A)
ORG: Victoria & Albert Museum in London
PROJECT: 3D scanning & printing replicas to repair objects
REASON: low vision audiences - tactile manipulation, print objects at home, curators interact w/ fragile objects, digitization allows 24/7 display
enable all your senses
SLIDE: enable all your senses (@extantltd)
ORG: Extant, theatre company dedicated to low vision/blind artists and audiences
PROJECT: Flatland - by Alan Lightman novel about 1D, 2D, and 3D worlds. They built a haptic interface audiences hold in their hand, used to navigate around an entirely pitch black room.
REASON: Theatre has long relied on sight, sound. Occasionally smell. Almost never smell or touch. Adds a new depth to the experience.
SLIDE: participatory experience (@zhdkcast)
ORG: Zurich University of the Arts at Sundance 2015
PROJECT: Birdly allows you to ﬂy above SF in a virtual reality experience, via Oculus Rift
REASON: Virtual reality puts audience inside the artistic experience. why simply watch what’s happening on stage, when you could participate.
artiﬁcially intelligent artists
SLIDE: artiﬁcially intelligent artists (@3ldnyc)
ORG: Huang Yi and Kuka, in residence at 3 Legged Dog performance space in NYC
PROJECT: Robots that performs along with the dancer/choreographer
REASON: Uncanny valley hasn’t seen anything until the performing arts world. Long way off to replace actors.
social interactions organizations struggle, artists innovate.
replace and augment human interactions.interactive objects
who has access, what they do, and when it becomes art.data
audience as maker, curator, and free labor.co-creation
mediate artistic experience before, during, and afterdevices
right here and now to anywhere anytime.multi(tasking) media
distributed, temporary, and competitive.learning models
That was a ton of examples
dozens more case studies in my notes
But I want to hear more from others
Part of putting this together was an excuse to reach out to artists & orgs - so tell me more examples
Also interested in particular in putting together events that put technologists, artists, and orgs together to learn from each other
Could mean: culture hack partner, incubators, conferences, collaborative working spaces