Elliott Bledsoe (Agentry), Change Media, Leah Barclay, Bong Ramilo, Vicki Sowry (ANAT)

Exploring the impact of new technologies on arts and cultural practice, now and in the future, is a major priority for Arts Front, and a focus of work in 2018.

Currently we have something of a paradox when it comes to the relationship between technology and the arts. On the one hand technology seems to be fading in terms of its significance in the arts sector. The utopian vision for technology in the arts that underpinned the Creative Australia Policy is a distant memory. The National Broadband Network has largely failed to materialise or deliver the benefits in terms of creation and presentation of work. Dedicated technology and innovation funding programs that agencies like the Australia Council once delivered are gone, as has federal funding in games and multi-platform development. The arts has been left out of the innovation agendas of state and federal governments and there is almost palpable anti-technology sentiment across much of the sector.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the influence of technology in the arts and cultural sector has never been greater, and is growing at an incredible rate. Corporations like Facebook, YouTube, Google, Amazon and Netflix are hugely influential and their footprint is growing exponentially. Many within the arts sector seem oblivious to this process. What rights are put at risk through this process and what new opportunities are being missed? How do we bring technology and its impacts on the arts (positive and negative) back into a public discursive space? How do we shift the arts from a passive to an active voice in the imaging the future of arts and technology in Australia (by 2030)?

The Arts Front Technology work is driven by ongoing research and analysis being undertaken by a growing team of contributors headed up by Elliott Bledsoe (Agentry). In 2018 the Technology stream will investigate these key questions:

  • Artists in the networked future – how will the arts interact with emerging digital trends and make use of the new technologies?
  • First Peoples and technology – what happens when the world’s oldest cultures collide with the digital revolution?
  • Case studies – what are some interesting and innovative examples of artists and artwork using technology?

Platformations (working title)

Arts Front is partnering with Change Media in the development of a broadcast television series exploring the impact of key digital platforms on arts and creative practice. The work will focus on meteoric rise of Google, Youtube, Facebook and Amazon over the last twelve years (since 2006) examining the impact they currently have, and then pitching forward to imagine what they might look like twelve years into the future in 2030. Adapting the format developed for programs such as Marcus Westbury’s Bespoke series, Platformations will apply a First Nations lens to the investigation, with a high profile First Nations presenter as the program host.

A pilot episode is currently in development and will be used to bid for investment to produce the full series in 2018 / 2019.

How has technology’s promise failed you?

An Arts and Technology Forum – Adelaide – October 2018 (date TBC)

Arts Front will partner with ANAT to deliver a national arts and technology forum in Adelaide in October. Sixty of Australia’s leading arts and technology practitioners will gather in conjunction with the Spectra to explore the provocation: How has Technology’s Promise Failed You? The Forum will provide an opportunity to share and build on Arts Front’s technology focused research with the sector and to explore new themes and directions to feed into the development of the shared values statement for 2030.