FAULT LINES – A talent development and commissioning programme for art in technology innovation

Without art, the future would never change.” – Paula Varjack, No Boundaries 2017

FAULT LINES is a landmark talent development and commissioning programme awarded an Ambition for Excellence award by Arts Council England.

It’s vision is to support artists to develop art practice in technology innovation, and to create new opportunities in how artists work and where and who art is commissioned by.

Seven exceptional artists were selected in 2016 from Manchester, Newcastle and London and appointed FAULT LINES artists. These are Kasia Molga, Dan Hett, Ling Tan, Helen Knowles, Naho Matsuda, Chomko & Rosier and Peter J Evans.

The “artists” in FAULT LINES are many things. In their own words they define themselves as artist, design fusionist, creative technologist, digital artist, designer, live visual performer, multi-media artist, transdisciplinary artist, games designer, maker and software developer.

Art in innovation
There is a long history of art and innovation coming together. This space was opened from the late 60s and through the 70s, by the ideas of Stewart Brand in the Whole Earth Catalogue, the fusing of disciplines at Xerox Parc to shape innovation culture in Silicon Valley, and giants of technology and art coming together in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). This is continued today at MIT Media Lab, New Inc., Eyebeam and Autodesk’s Pier 9. Artists working in innovation embrace what it means to be “Antidisciplinary” with practitioners crossing borders of art, design, science and technology. As Neri Oxmen stated, ‘knowledge can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries…one realm can incite revolution inside another.’

For 21 years, FutureEverything has operated in the space between art, innovation, technology and society. Our artistic interest in the social impact of technology led us to innovate in open data, participatory sensing and climate services. Our community often operate as artist-researchers, exploring contemporary issues in society and culture through artistic enquiry and participatory experiences.

In the UK, FutureEverything successfully made a case for art to be at the centre of Manchester’s IoT Smart City demonstrator, CityVerve. In Europe, introducing artists in innovation is promoted through STARTS (science, technology and arts). Here, FutureEverything is bringing art and artists into the European Internet of Things programme, a part of Vertigo supporting 3-6 month artist residencies in ICT innovation projects, and the STARTS Prize, led by Ars Electronica.

The fault lines in FAULT LINES is between cultures and language in art and technology innovation. The challenge is to create a space where the two can come together and cohabit. For the technology sector the goal is to stimulate innovation and acceptance. For ‘critical arts’ the goal may be to ask the hard questions, to challenge ideas, answer ethical concerns. This is not always easy, but maybe, just maybe, it can lead to better art, and better technology. The fault lines between art and technology are our inspiration, but we need our wits about us too.

Current FAULT LINES commissions: 

SUPERGESTURES by Ling Tan. A participatory art project co-created with the people of Manchester. The second artwork commissioned by CityVerve, Manchester’s IoT Smart City demonstrator. Participants will use wearable technology to create a language of body gestures which will express both their relationship with the city and their vision of a future smart city. The finale of SUPERGESTURES will take place at Future Sessions in March 2018.

Positively Charged by Kasia Molga. An art installation which used smart technologies to create a vision of a future Taipei City, exploring new ways of harvesting and circulating personal energy. Premiered at Taipei Arts Festival at the Digital Art Centre, 7 August – 3 September 2017. This commission built on FutureEverything’s programme in Singapore in 2015, and involves collaboration with Taiwan’s world leading technology sector as well as Taipei city partners.

every thing every time by Naho Matsuda. What stories can be uncovered from a city? The first commission for CityVerve. The work used various data streams – from sensors measuring weather, traffic and travel – to create an ephemeral, poetic narrative that was displayed across Manchester. The commission brief was shaped by community forums, and responds to themes and technologies in the CityVerve project.