We look back at the year we turned our practice inside out
Through a series of ambitious projects we discovered huge untapped spaces within the digital art world and we finish the year feeling optimistic and eager to get on with these challenges despite the prevailing UK situation. So how did that happen?
On the drive home from our Brecon residency in June, we were discussing how to describe and name a newly evolved strand in our art making. We’d worked with an entire community of 70 people of all ages to generate creative coding animations and creatures and then, on the spot, threw the whole lot together into a 8 screen extravaganza. We’d simplified the setups and trained the staff, who then ran the show smoothly without us for a month. We had made our first Superorganism – a large art show made up of hundreds of smaller bits of art. All our workshop-driven projects from then on would take this model onboard.
We ran our longest and shortest ever Microworlds this year:
A 5-screen show in Eureka! The National Children’s Museum in Halifax which, apart from the heatwave knocking out several of the museum’s computers, ran robustly for seven months and saw over 200,000 visitors generating ecosystem art including 44,450 Squidlets. On the other side of the world, we took part in a Tinkerer’s conference and ran a 4 hour Microworld where the Beijing public enthusiastically engaged with our interactives in the same way as everyone in the West. The fact that 100 new science centres are being opened up in the next 5-10 years in China has flipped the world on us – it’s the new land of opportunity. Every time we visit Asia we’re bowled over by the enthusiasm, drive and love of digital art – it’s infectious!
Back in Margate, we built up our work with Dreamland into a 6 month residency. So far we’ve delivered 3 sets of workshops, each resulting in a collaborative artwork. Apocalypse Now! was created with 200+ teenagers on the NCS scheme. It looked stunning in the old Woolworths building on the high street as part of Margate Festival and gained 1000 visitors over two weekends. We then worked with all 220 students, some as young as 4(!), at the remarkable Ramsgate Arts Primary School designing and coding an Underwater City. Finally, we introduced local artists to the power of coding and, on the strength of their enthusiasm we’re plannig to set up a local coding club with Margate creatives. The Dreamland projects will contiue in 2019, getting as many local people involved in digital as possible.
These projects wouldn’t have happened without the support of the brilliant organisations that we work with. Special thanks to The Lumen Prize who organized Eureka! and Microworld Brecon back to back and who are opening up important opportunities for their digital artists. Victoria at Dreamland for getting what we’re about and creating an exciting residency programme for us. And, of course, to Kate, Rick and all the HKD + Geek_Play crew whose energies and ideas are boundless.
We’re marching forward into the new year, aiming for large-scale collaborative creative coding immersive installations.
Happy Christmas 2018
Nicola + Tim
Title image – portrait of Genetic Moo in front of artwork by Tian-Xiaolei