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  • Date: 22 September 2010
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: North
FutureEverything Festival 2010 Serendipity City, FutureEverything 2010, Photo: Brian Slater

Manchester's annual celebration of cutting edge digital culture reached new heights of success this year.

FutureEverything 2010, hosted by venues across the city back in May, featured world premieres of astonishing artworks, an explosive music programme, and innovative, creative thinkers from around the world.

The festival, formerly named Futuresonic, has been held annually in Manchester since 1994, and is now acclaimed as one of the leading events of its type in the world.

FutureEverything 2010 reached 50,000 people across 40 venues, with 15 per cent of delegates from outside the UK, and 660,000 unique visits online, once again affirming the festival's huge draw as a key destination for all things digital.

Highlights included advance screenings of ODDSAC, a kaleidoscopic, experimental, 'digital album' directed by Danny Perez with a soundtrack by ground-breaking, US psychedelic pop band Animal Collective.

The 2010 festival also featured The Feast at Trimalchio by Russian collective AES+F - which originally premiered at the 2009 Venice Biennale - installed in one of Manchester's most iconic residencies, the Palace Hotel. The artwork which depicts a Roman feast within the confines of a luxury hotel, took residence as a large-scale video installation in the hotel's lobby area.

A further festival highlight saw FutureEverything evolve its annual conference via the introduction of GloNet - a multi-venue experimental format, joining together participants in Vancouver, Sao Paulo, Sendai, and Istanbul, taking FutureEverything to all corners of the globe.

Jamie Williams, Translator/Director, plusC Concept, Japan and GloNet contributor said: '...arranging this was an immense learning experience and required the getting together of a wide-range of individuals, the transcending of industries and the language barrier as well as pushing oneself to think in new ways, taking on new approaches. I think Sendai is a better city for it and I look forward to the next time FutureEverything and Sendai can work together.'

Paul Robinson, Director, Vagueware and GloNet contributor said: '...thanks for all the amazing hard work, it's made an impression on the Vancouver crowd who want to do this again...and I will certainly consider it one of the more ambitious projects I've been involved with for a long time.'

2010's FutureEverything festival also saw the presentation of the inaugural FutureEverything Award for innovation, which went to Eyewriter, an ongoing digital creative project designed to empower those suffering from degenerative neuromuscular diseases.

Behind this hugely innovative concept lies a team of New York based designers, who have developed a pair of glasses designed to track and record eye movement, enabling people to draw pictures using their eyes. The team originally created the glasses for Californian graffiti artist Tony Quan, whose eyes are the only part of his body that he can move as a result of ALS, a form of motor neurone disease. With the glasses Quan is now creating his distinctive work again for the first time since 2003.

Drew Hemment, Director, FutureEverything, said: 'This is a future that is for everybody. In the last few years FutureEverything seems to have exploded and now reaches more people than ever before. The festival combines astonishing art with a passionate engagement in issues of social change. Our work has always been about international connections, and this year we launched GloNet, a new model of globally networked event which featured venues and participants in cities around the world. Debates that begin at FutureEverything often have wider repercussions, and the successful City Debate has since been scaled up to regional and national levels. We feel lucky to be planning for growth in difficult times, and preparing for an even stronger festival next year. 

'Today digital culture has burst its banks, digital media impacts on all organisations, communities and sectors, and there is increasingly no place digital creatives cannot go. FutureEverything is an agile organisation which works year round on digital innovation projects, including one in which we have been entrusted to lead the charge towards Manchester becoming an open data city, which is a major policy initiative.'

Lucy Dusgate, Relationship Manager, Digital and Creative Economy said: 'FutureEverything has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, to the point where it is now a fully fledged must-see for any forward thinking creatives fuelled by new technologies. This hugely anticipated annual event has had a significant impact on cultural tourism in the region, something which this year's impressive visitor numbers show. And these figures don't take into account the number of people engaged with the festival on a virtual basis! In 2010 the festival has pushed creative boundaries via events such as GloNet and has encouraged international collaboration, such as Japan-based WOWlab's visual arts residency. Furthermore the festival has shown how creativity and technology can fuse to empower society and even transform lives - a great example being the inspirational Eyewriter. The festival continues to push Manchester to the fore of digital innovation, establishing the city as a hub for digital culture ahead of the upcoming establishment of Media City in Salford.'

FutureEverything festival continues to bring together some of the world's most visionary thinkers, artists and musicians to celebrate the creativity and innovation that is driving social change in the digital age. The organisation also works on a host of other projects, and was recently awarded funding through the EU Culture 2007 programme to establish a new international network of sound and media festivals.

FutureEverything 2011 takes place from 11 to 14 May. For more information visit: