Brighton's arts and digital communities come together for city's Digital Festival

By Ruth Hazard | 23 August 2012
photo of digital artworks with projections
Bring your own Beamer will be heading into Brighton's tunnels for 2012© Courtesy Brighton Digital Festival
Festival Preview: Brighton Digital Festival, various locations, Brighton, September 1 -30 2012

If you stand in Brighton’s Jubilee Square on the evening of September 2, you will witness fireworks exploding all around you to mark the beginning of the city’s Digital festival. But these won’t be your ordinary firecrackers or catherine wheels – these will be virtually created, fully interactive fireworks.

There’s no doubt that some seriously high spec technology has been used to create the PixelPyros display, but the festival ethos is inclusive rather than exclusive, and events like these will appeal to people of all levels of digital understanding.

And that’s because this festival celebrates digital culture at the point where art and technology combine. By making a connection between these two different  yet convergent disciplines, the festival brings together the city’s vibrant arts and digital communities.

“The digital festival is definitely encouraging new audiences for the arts,” says Jon Pratty, the Relationship Manager, Digital and Creative Economies at Arts Council England.

“Its about making connections between artists using digital tools and people in the creative digital industry.”

The programme highlights a new wave of artists that are working purely with digital mediums, such as Alex May, who creates his own software for video projection installations and interactive artworks using light emitting technologies, computer programming and mathematics.

“Most artists are using digital because it is a road to success,” says Pratty. He points out that a new online platform, e-PERMANENT, will launch at Brighton Digital Festival, showcasing artworks created especially for a digital space.

“What we are seeing with the e-PERMENANT project is a physical gallery close and re-open as a digital space on the internet.

“Developments like this will help to encourage artists to find new ways of working.”

Performance artist Nancy Mauro-Flude will be the first to feature in the new online gallery. Taking on the perspective of a female hacker, she uses live code manipulations to explore the intimate workings of computer/human interfaces, surveillance and social media.

The festival programme also includes a host of events that intersect art and digital practice, such as Bring Your Own Beamer, which invites artists to take part in a DIY projection exhibition within the underground tunnels of Brighton Dome.

Comic book workshops with David Blandy and his Manga artist collaborator complement an exhibition at Phoenix Brighton and there are also readings by great sci fi writers, including Brian Aldiss.

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