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Brighton Digital Festival highlights the exciting potential of uniting digital technology with arts and culture

  • Date: 16 September 2013
  • Area: South East
Visitors enjoy the Mini Maker Faire at Brighton Digital Festival

Visitors enjoy the Mini Maker Faire at Brighton Digital Festival. Credit: Jon Norris

From leading arts and digital practitioners to creative thinkers and activists, Brighton Digital Festival is bursting with ideas on how organisations can bridge the gap between digital arts, the creative industries and education.

This Arts Council England supported event showcases some of the most exciting digital work being undertaken in the arts and culture sector and how it can be evolved in the future.

The concept of developing an event that promoted the creative potential of digital technology was initially developed by The Arts Council in 2011 and piloted by Lighthouse, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation. In just two years it has grown dramatically from around 60 events in 2012 to over 180 in 2013.

Today, Brighton Digital Festival is led by Wired Sussex in partnership with Lighthouse and provides a superb forum for the creative and technological sectors to come together.

In addition to facilitating greater collaboration between these two sectors, Brighton Digital Festival also has a really important educational strand that goes out to schools in the surrounding area.

It provides workshops that help students develop their digital and creative skills, whilst also highlighting potential career avenues in the creative sector.

Cate Canniffe, Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: 'The Arts Council is delighted to be supporting Brighton Digital Festival, a fantastic month-long event that brings together leading arts and digital practitioners, thinkers and activists, creating a forum to share ideas, showcase work, build partnerships and develop collaborative working. It highlights how these worlds can combine to complement each other and bring great art to new audiences in innovative new ways.'

As we approach the half-way point of the festival, we look at some of the highlights to date and what we can look forward to before the end of the month.

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Brighton Mini Maker Faire, 7 & 8 September

The family festival of creativity and invention was back for a third year with even more mind-boggling makes.

The biggest Maker Faire in the South of England, it brought together makers from all over the country to show their projects, share their passion for making, and inspire visitors to have a go at making things themselves.

This year, the team packed out the Corn Exchange and Dome Foyer Bar on Saturday 7 September with robots, crafters, science, coding, games and toys, metal and woodworking, model-making, costumes, and homebrew electronics. We'll also be running our inspiring sessions of talks and debates again.

On Sunday 8th, the team ran a series of in-depth workshops for those who wanted to learn more about making.

Short Circuit, 10 September

Short Circuit is a strategic action research project commissioned by Arts Council England and led by disabled artists & digital curators Sarah Pickthall and Jo Verrent.

Working closely with Lighthouse, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation, the team served up a smattering of Short Circuit artists, giving audiences a taste of things to come.

  • Choreographer Chisato Minamimura can't hear the music but is mapping the maths to visualise new choreographic forms with Dave Packer of Sheep Films.
  • Film maker Caroline Ward presents extracts from her audio-visual souvenir of a city sonifying locations through walking, imagery and imagining the linked sound memories. Working with artist Anya Ustaszewski and Dave Mee of Madlabs.
  • Mixed media artist Dolly Sen is exploring the concept of what a mental breakdown might look like if experienced by the internet. What would it be like if the internet heard voices, hadhallucinations or thought disorder? What if the internet thought it was Jesus?
  • Visual artist Jon Adams goes feral using his experiences of Aspergers and dyslexia to tap into the hidden Book of Mozilla - creating sound in response (The Book of Mozilla is a computer Easter egg found in the Netscape and Mozilla series of web browsers).

 New Writing South - throughout September

Working with Brighton crime novelist Peter James, New Writing South is using digital technology to create something special for Brighton Digital Festival.

Using digital technology, the team has developed a multimedia spin on the traditional game of Consequences that will unfurl through the contribution of a team of creative writers.

The story will kick off with an opening cliff-hanger by Peter James. Throughout September, each writer will contribute in their favoured form, from prose to drama to performance poetry. The virtual paper will then be passed on using YouTube, Soundcloud, Facebook, blogs and Twitter.

Audiences can see the story unfold through the internet, adding their comments and tweeting using the hashtag #NWSdigital. The ending will be revealed in an event at the Writers'Place on Friday 27 September.

Break the Mould, 7-22 and 23-30 September

Break the Mould is an interactive 3D printing installation created by digital agency Developing Dreams working with Brighton based Italian artist Emilia Telese.

Visitors will be invited to walk into a 3D body scanner, a giant woman's body, to get scanned and 'give birth' to a small 3D printed sculpture of themselves. Break the Mould made its debut at the Bright Maker Faire on 7 September and is now touring the Brighton Festival.

The installation gives people the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in this exciting, disruptive and empowering new technology.

Break the Mould is supported by public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Game Jam with Hide & Seek, 14 September 2013

Lighthouse is partnering with world-class games designers, Hide & Seek, to stage an intensive Game Jam to build new games for Brighton Digital Festival. Young people developed a series of new games to be showcased at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery as part of Digital Late at the end of September.

Young people from two local schools - Brighton Aldridge Community Academy and Portslade Aldridge Community Academy - teachers, creatives and games designers from Hide & Seek worked together on the development of a series of new games.

Some of these new games made in the Game Jam will be in the form of Hide & Seek's Tiny Games - small, quick-to-understand games that sit in the real world, inviting participation. The games will have an inherently Brighton flavour, and will be showcased at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery as part of the Digital Late event.

Game Jam is part of Art at Work, a two-year programme of activities that builds the confidence, skills and knowledge of young people through workshops, events and projects.

Art at Work is a collaboration between Lighthouse, Photoworks, The Aldridge Foundation, Brighton and Portslade Aldridge Community Academies, and Brighton & Hove City Council. It is supported by Arts Council England.

reFRAMED - The Great Storyscape, 26 & 27 September 2013

Films at all budget levels are now expected to be multi-faceted experiences, with audiences moving away from 'passive viewing', to becoming fully engaged and participatory in narratives. Games, social media, apps and interactive platforms all provide new spaces and viewing experiences, but with all the competing 'noise', how can filmmakers find their audience?

Presented by Lighthouse in partnership with Talking Point, and supported by Creative Skillset, this is a chance to explore the creative potential of new technologies when developing different kinds of film stories, and how to approach these opportunities in early development, as part of the artistic process, long before marketing. Aimed at those working in film, television, games and digital media.

PixelPyros - digital fireworks display, 28 September

Everyone loves fireworks, but usually we have to stand well back. With PixelPyros, by Seb Lee-Delisle, you can get right up close, and set them off with your hands!

PixelPyros returns after setting last year's festival off to a spectacular start. This is the digital fireworks display that you control and it's bigger and better than ever. Touch the bright orbs of light to fire an array of gorgeous multi-coloured rockets. The virtual pyrotechnics are projected onto a massive 60 foot wide screen using state of the art projectors and lasers.

Designed and programmed by local digital artist Seb Lee-Delisle and his team, this is a Brighton success story. The Brighton date is the first of a ten night nationwide tour funded by The Arts Council.

The New Sublime - Digital Art Gallery, dates throughout September

The New Sublime is an ambitious, artist-led exhibition showing work by 11 emerging and established digital artists.

Running throughout Brighton Digital Festival at Clearleft's new building, 68 Middle Street, The New Sublime is an ambitious, artist-led exhibition showing work by 11 emerging and established digital artists including Alex May, James Alliban, Kate Genevieve, Evan Boehm and the Fortunecats.

Digital Art is in its infancy and, whilst the boundaries of technology are ever expanding, the questions for artists continue along the lines of: "what is it really for?" and "how does it feel?". This show includes painting, sculpture, installations (interactive and otherwise), performance and video work, all of it exploring the new artistic possibilities presented by digital technology.

The gallery is a large, modern space near the centre of town and represents an exciting contribution to Brighton's burgeoning position as an international centre for digital art.

Organised in collaboration with Brighton University, Fabrica, Joseph Norman and Matt Pearson.

Supported by Clearleft, Arts Council England and Moshimo.