Connecting Culture

Dan Ashton and Seth Giddings are co-investigators on the just-announced ‘Connecting Culture’ initiative, a two-year project supported by a £75,000 grant from Arts Council England and involving a large consortium of arts organisations and child-focused services, led by the University of Southampton, to catalyse a new future in the arts.

Children and young people from across Southampton will be at the heart of the project, which will address the question of how the city’s thriving Cultural Quarter can enrich the lives of those aged five to 25. The aim is to enable young people to produce a Young People’s Manifesto and Map to be adopted by ‘Child-Friendly Southampton’ and create a sustained programme that reflects their needs.

The project will involve: 

  • over 350 participants, aged 5-25, and Early Years families in a city-wide artist-led consultation;
  • the recruitment of 10 new ‘Cultural Connectors’, a programme for young people aged 16-25 integrating ‘youth voice’ leadership and organisational development;  
  • the commissioning of a series of new public artworks led by young people;
  • the use of data gathered by the consortium, participants and partners to trial, develop and shape activities for children and young people – now and in the future.

The ‘Connecting Culture’ consortium includes Artswork, Art Asia, ArtfulScribe, ‘a space’ arts / God’s House Tower, Black History Month – Southampton, City Eye, John Hansard Gallery, Mayflower Theatre, Mayflower 400, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, SeaCity Museum, SOCOMusic, Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton Central Library, Solent Showcase Gallery, Southampton Music Hub, SÓN, Turner Sims, Unity 101, Voice FM, ZoieLogic Dance Theatre.

Strategic partners for the project include: Southampton City Council (SCC) Children’s Services (Children, Young People and Families), Southampton Youth Forum, Southampton Children in Care Council, Southampton Cultural Education Partnership (SCEP), Southampton Education Forum (HE/FE), Virtual School Head (Maria Anderson), Primary Heads Conference, Southampton Cooperative Learning Trust, Youth Options, No Limits (Young People, Young Carers), Diverse City (Dorset/Bristol), Creative Youth Network (Bristol); UoS: Public Engagement with Research Unit, Widening Participation Department, Social Impact Lab. 

Connecting Culture will commence in Autumn 2019.

Unexpected Enterprises “Thinking and Doing Enterprise Creatively” Innovation Lab

The second workshop for the Unexpected Enterprises project (Dan is Co-I) was held at Winchester School of Art this week. The innovation lab followed a talk by Dr Carol Ekinsmyth (University of Portsmouth) and Rebecca van Rooijen(Benchpeg) on the theme of “Gender, Technology and Enterprise” (abstracts and biographies on the main website events page here).

Innovation lab participants included Carol, Rebecca and staff and students from WSA.

The workshop involved sharing some of the initial project findings on creative and cultural entrepreneurship:

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After discussions of entrepreneurial narratives and the above themes, there were three making activities exploring learning and teaching activities:

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A similar version of the workshop will be held in Bristol in April, and then Dan and Emma will be working on the outputs – a toolkit for enterprise educators and research publications.

Thinking and Doing Enterprise Creatively: Innovation Lab (20th March 1-4 at WSA)

The second workshop from the “Unexpected Enterprises” project will take place on 20th March from 1-4pm in WSA.

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This event explores evolving pathways for creative and cultural work – it looks at how new modes of work are being generated by enterprising activities that typically fall outside traditional notions of entrepreneurialism.

The lab offers a space to consider and discuss how people are self-actualising their creative aspirations by ‘creating creative work’ in unexpected ways, often through leveraging the affordances new digital tools and platforms. This will be of particular interest to students and educators who are interested in the enterprising nature of creative career development and evolving creative work practices.

To find out more, please contact Dr Dan Ashton (d.k.ashton[a]soton.ac.uk).

University of Southampton/WSA colleagues can sign up using this Eventbrite page.

This is a workshop emphasizing discussion and participation, so numbers will be capped at around 20-25.

The workshop follows a morning talk hosted by Transforming Creativity and MA Global Media Management – “Gender, Technology and Enterprise” 10.30 in LTA.

FULL DETAILS FOR BOTH EVENTS CAN BE FOUND WSA Enterprise Events 20th March 2019.

Ludic economies

Seth Giddings and Alison Harvey (University of Leicester) co-edited a special issue of the journal Games and Culture. Published in November 2018 the issue argues that the study of digital games–their milieux of production, cultures and contexts of play, user-generated production, and spectatorship should be applied as a primary heuristic in understanding the cultural economy of neoliberal late capitalism–as well as vice versa. The articles address a range of issues relating to both mainstream profit models including digital distribution platforms and mobile games as well as peripheral game economies such as game jams and indie production (full introductory abstract here).

The special issue has its origins in the first MA Global Media Management symposium in 2015: Ludic Economies.

Enhancing Creativity and Transforming Places through Festivals, Thursday 14 March 4 PM at LTA, WSA

TC Festivals Event Poster

The ‘Transforming Creativity’ Research Group 

at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton 

presents an academic event on festivals engaging researchers and practitioners. 

‘Enhancing Creativity and Transforming Places through Festivals’

This seminar seeks to foster exchange between festival researchers and practitioners based in Winchester and Southampton in order to reflect about the different ways in which media scholars and cultural theorists can engage in festival research. Through a series of presentations of festival examples from Asia, Africa, and Europe, the different scholars will discuss festivals as multifaceted events and “crossroads of capital” (Adesokan, 2011), looking at the social and economic impact of this mediated form of culture. In so doing, scholars will reflect on the transformative aspect of festivals, often involving the re-invention and re-marketing of places into tourist destinations (Gibson & Connell, 2011; Kirshenblatt Gimblett 1998) and re-signifying places for local audiences. Practitioners will address these questions from their situated case studies, focusing on the curation of film and arts for audiences in Winchester.

References

Adesokan, Akinwumi (2011). Postcolonial Artists and Global Aesthetics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Gibston, Christopher & Connell, John (eds.) (2011). Festival Places: Revitalising Rural Australia. Clevedon: Channel View Publications.

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara (1998). Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums and Heritage. Berkeley; London: University of California Press.

Date: Thursday 14 March.

Time: 4- 6 PM.

Venue: Winchester School of Art, West Side Building, Lecture Theatre A.

Speakers: Prof Jussi Parikka, Transmediale Festival in Berlin (Germany); Prof Robert Ed D’Souza, Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi (India); Dr Estrella Sendra, International Festival of Folklore and Percussion in Louga (Senegal); Prof Lucy Mazdon & John Haynes, Winchester Film Festival (United Kingdom); Dr August Jordan Davis, Winchester Biennial Arts Festival, 10 days (United Kingdom). Chaired by Dr Mihaela Brebenel (Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton).

Format: 10-minute presentation each, followed by discussion in a round-table with the audience.

Organisers: Dr Estrella Sendra, as part of the ‘Transforming Creativity’ Research Group

About the ‘Transforming Creativity’ Research Group: 

Co-directed by Dr Dan Ashton and Dr Seth Giddings, the Transforming Creativity research group addresses contemporary change in the cultural and media industries, everyday and activist media cultures, critical making, and playful, critical and speculative design for cultural experience. Taking a critical approach to notions of creativity and imagination as a focus – and the our home within an art school as an inspiration –  we foreground on the one hand the professional and political generation of ideas and cultural products and on the other everyday consumption, play, activism and participatory culture. We emphasise the transformations of media, design and cultural industries and their creative practices wrought by digital media and social networks, and the playful, political and bottom–up cultures they facilitate. Throughout, the group keeps an eye out for the distributed, the political, the experimental, the affective, the queer, the playful, the transgressive and disruptive within creative industry and the everyday.

Abstracts

Transmediale and Post-digital Culture

This presentation will discuss the transmediale festival and its role in the wider landscape of media, art, activism and digital culture. Taking place annually in Berlin, the festival has grown from a video art festival into one of the largest international critical events in media art, but with a specific angle to combining issues of politics and activism with a critical engagement with art. Hence, it is less celebratory of “new technologies” than an engagement with art practices as part of a larger body of social debates. One of the research themes we have worked with them is about post-digital culture and institutions, and it was published as the first transmediale reader that collected several leading international theorists and critical technology artists in the volume Across and Beyond: a transmediale Reader on Post-Digital Culture, Concepts and Institutions (edited by Ryan Bishop, Kristoffer Gansing, Jussi Parikka and Elvia Wilk; Sternberg Press, 2016).

Jussi Parikka is professor in technologic culture and aesthetics at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. He is also Docent at University of Turku, Finland and author of several books on media archaeology, environmetal humanities and visual culture. These include among others Insect Media (2010), What is Media Archaeology? (2012) and A Geology of Media. He is also the co-editor of Writing and Unwriting Media (Art) History: Erkki Kurenniemi in 2048 (co-edited with Joasia Krysa, 2015).

The Biennale Ecosystem: Notes from Kochi

As a means of considering more broadly the actual and potential effects of Biennale ‘practices’, this presentation draws insights from the book India’s Biennale Effect (D’Souza & Manghani, 2017), which takes on the case of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, established in 2012, and now into its 4th edition. At the time of writing the book, it had been described as one of the most significant newly emergent biennales, alongside Shanghai, Sharjah and Dakar. The study provided detailed examination of what the editors term the ‘biennale effect’ — a layered contestation of place, economics, art and politics. In presenting various perspectives and focusing on historical, political, aesthetic, commercial and educational aspects, a close reading is given of the unique context of the biennale as well as setting out a broader critical framework for understanding global contemporary art and its effects. What emerges, particularly in the context of Kochi and what has often been described as its ‘people’s Biennale, is a complex ‘ecosystem’ that draws together different groups and socio-economic structures, both to enable the biennale itself but also a ripple of different economic and creative effects and opportunities.

Robert E. D’Souza is Head of Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, where he is Professor of Critical Practice. He has an international personal practice and research agenda that lies in the cross-cultural interactions of the overlapping areas of visual art, cultural study and social science with a sustained focus on India. His approach is to work collaboratively with other practitioners, writers, academics, institutions and students through a practice that questions the mythologizing of Indian identity by considering wider ideas of the interchange and tensions between identity, location and context. Recent publications, projects and exhibitions that respond to social and political change in relation to India include Outside  India at W+K Exp Gallery, Delhi, 2011 and the accompanying publication Outside India: Dialogues and Documents of Art and Social Change (W+K Delhi, 2012), Barcelona Masala: Narratives and Interactions in Cultural Space (Actar, 2013) and the inclusion of his installation End of Empire, at the 2nd edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2014. Recent projects in relation to biennales include The Indian Biennale Effect: The Kochi- Murziris Biennale 12/12/12 (Journal of Cultural Politics, Duke University Press, 2013) and India’s Biennale Effect: A Politics of Contemporary Art (Routledge, 2016) launched at the 3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2016 and more recently the review Timely Provocations: The 3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale for The Biennale Foundation website in January 2017. He is currently preparing new work for a commission from the Oslo Biennale, 2019.

Festivals in Rural Regions: International Festival of Folklore and Percussion (FESFOP) in Louga (Senegal)

Following a long history of festivities in the country, which date from the precolonial period, and the celebration of the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar in 1966, Senegal has experienced an increasing festivalisation. The 1966 Festival was celebrated under the patronage of first president of independent Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, as a state-funded initiative, and thus as a political project. In the twenty-first century, festivalisation would undergo an increasing detachment from the state, as cultural actors from different regions took the lead. The International Festival of Folklore and Percussion (FESFOP) is located in Louga, a rural region in the northwest of Senegal. Launched in 2000, it has celebrated eighteen editions, which take place annually from 28 December to 2 January. FESFOP is conceived as a “project of territory,” strongly linked to its rural dimension. This presentation examines the ways in which this festival operates as a “crossroads of capital” (Adesokan, 2011), through a decentralisation of the festival time and space. FESFOP serves as an illustrative example of the way in which certain places, particularly in rural contexts, are revitalised and reinvented through festivals, generating different forms of capital that extend beyond the festival dates.

Estrella Sendra is Teaching Fellow in Global Media Industries at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. a scholar, teacher, documentary filmmaker, journalist and festival organiser who seeks to contribute to the de-Westernisation of Media and Cultural Studies. He PhD research, funded by SOAS, University of London, looked at festivals in Senegal. She has published in international journals on different aspects of media, film, cultural studies and creative industries, such as African cinema, migration, particularly drawing on her area of expertise Senegal, for instance in ‘Displacement and the Quest for Identity in Gomis’s’ cinema, in a close-up on Senegalese cinema in Black Camera. In 2014 and 2015, she was the director of the Cambridge African Film Festival.

Winchester Film Festival

Established in 2012, the Winchester Film Festival hosted its seventh edition from 3 to 10 November 2018, with a selection of titles from over 50 different countries. As the only film festival in Winchester, it seeks to expose viewers to films they would not necessarily choose to see. It constitutes a window to an unseen world. Festival founder and director, John Haynes, will offer a practice-based presentation on the history of the festival, its specific aims and the relationship between film and venue.

John Hayes is founder and director of the Winchester Film Festival, editor in chief of the satire magazine SMUG and co-director of the upcoming National Portrait open Salon Auteur. John has curated over 25 exhibitions,  run 5 international film clubs and acts as agent to award winning satire artist Mark Michael.  In 2015 John guided the WFA to be Winners of the BID commitment to the City Award.  John’s background is as therapist and he is author of’ the books ‘The Art of Being Human‘, a therapist’s guide to romance, football, evolution and heaven and ‘Safe Space’, a practitioner’s guide to treating anxiety.  John is also responsible for the language acquisition methodology the  Spiral Approach Method.  In previous incarnations, John has lived in Malawi, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia and Beirut.

Prof Lucy Mazdon is part of the festival judges. She has published widely in the fields of festivals, film and television. Her recent publications include essays exploring Franco-British Cinematic Relations (Je t’aime, moi non plus: Franco-British Cinematic Relations, Berghahn, 2010). Currently Mazdon teaches courses on contemporary French cinema, French cinema of the 1930’s, and cinema and childhood, at the renowned University of Southampton.

Winchester Biennial Arts Festival, 10 days

In 2015, Dr August Jordan Davis, as Director of The Winchester Gallery at WSA, was invited to participate in the Winchester biennial arts festival, 10days. As a member of the selection panel, August helped select artists from the open call to participate in that year’s festival, especially selecting the 10 artists / collectives to exhibit in The Winchester Gallery. That year’s theme was a meditation on Chalk and our show brought together artists from the region alongside WSA staff, students and alumni. Our show invited viewers on a journey to walk through chalk as medium, metaphor and channel. And we reached over 750 visitors in just a fortnight in October 2015. August also chaired an artists’ talk at the Discovery Centre during the festival, speaking with other artists from other venues in the festival.

Dr August Jordan Davis is Senior Lecturer, MA Programme Leader – Contemporary Curation, and Director of The Winchester Gallery since joining Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton in September 2011. August is a feminist art historian and curator, with a BFA from University of North Texas, MA from Keele University, and a PhD from the University of Liverpool. August writes about North American feminist art practice since the 1960s, with much focus on the theoretical implications of the work of Martha Rosler. Recent publications include guest co-editing a special issue of Third Text journal entitled Transfigurations: Transnational Perspectives on Domestic Spaces with Dr Basia Sliwinska. She has been invited to speak internationally on contemporary curation including at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the Venice Biennale, and at Contemporary Istanbul.

Unexpected Enterprises

During 2018-19, Dan (Co-Investigator) will be working with colleagues from UWE (Dr Emma Agusita, Principal Investigator; Professor Jon Dovey, Co-Investigator) on the Enterprise Edcuators UK funded project “Unexpected Enterprises”.

The project investigates emerging forms of media entrepreneurship and their application to the development of media enterprise pedagogies. It explores ways in which the changing landscape of media contexts and cultural production gives rise to “unexpected enterprises”, reflecting technical and social innovations, such as those forged in the realm of participatory digital culture. The collaborative project employs design research methodologies, including an open innovation lab process, to enable co-inquiry involving students, educators and industry partners in considering emerging entrepreneurial forms and their implications for media enterprise initiatives. The project contributes to evolving creative and cultural forms of applied enterprise education.

The first “Open Innovation Lab” took place at the Arnolfini in Bristol on 20th November:

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Future workshops will follow at WSA and in UWE in March 2019.

 

Office for Postdigital Research

The Office is open for research! Watch this space for a formal launch event, but contact Seth or Jussi if you are interested in using it.

The Office for Postdigital Research is a research collection and a space for experimental digital media research.

As a research space the Office houses contemporary gaming and VR hardware and software. It is used for small-scale and experimental research on digital gameplay and for testing interactive art installations. At present it is equipped with a PC and Vive VR and games, a PS4 Pro – also with VR headset and software.

The Office also holds a growing collection of visual media technologies from pre-electronic immersive media such as stereoscopes to mobile game devices, camera-drones, digital toys, and interactive art. The parameters of the collection are set by research interests and curiosity rather than taxonomical rigour, more Wunderkammer than museum.

These two aspects share a concern with alternative and experimental trajectories in digital media art, design, and play, with the theory-practice continuum, and with the material and embodied character of postdigital media culture. The Office space and collection emphasise the interplay between information environments, their physical manifestation, and their embodied use.

The Office is managed by the AMT and Transforming Creativity research groups at WSA but welcomes PhD students and other colleagues to collaborate on project-based partnerships.