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British Council Jordan – Arts in the Digital Age Online Forum

Mon 21st - Wed 23rd February 2022, 6PM - 8.30PM (Jordan) & 4PM - 6:30 (UK)

A three day online event created in partnership with and commissioned by the British Council, bringing together art professionals from the UK & Jordan to explore arts and digital practices

Artists have experimented with computers, computational processes and digital technologies for many decades now. In recent years we have seen technology taking an ever more prominent role within the arts, from artificial intelligence and machine learning, mixed realities, gaming environments to blockchain and NFTs. In their turn, artists are also making an impact in the tech sector engaging with digital technologies in creative, playful and experimental ways. And as society finds it almost impossible to live without the aid of digital devices, computing, or the internet, artists are also responding in critical ways to how these systems are making an impact in our lives, culture and the world.

In the three-day exchange forum, we explored how artists use digital technologies in creative and critical ways, how audiences engage with digital artworks, what the opportunities and challenges are for practitioners today and in the future, and the role of curators and art institutions in engaging with, commissioning and presenting digital art. Bringing together art professionals from the UK and Jordan we shared groundbreaking new work, digital art definitions, case studies and ways of working with arts and digital.

The programme offered participating artists opportunities to connect, get inspired by leading creative practitioners, and a preview into British Council in Jordan’s commissioned research into the use of digital technology in the creative scene in Jordan. Conducted by artmejo, the digital platform promoting art & culture in the Arab world, the research – including conversations with local arts practitioners and creatives across all art forms as well as those working in multi-disciplinary arts – presented findings on the local understanding of digital art and to what extent actors in the arts and culture sector use digital technology. Forum participants got a chance to hear more about the findings and how this research project will inform the future plans of the British Council in Jordan’s arts programme in building a lasting benefit to the Jordanian arts and cultural sector through evidence-based programming that builds mutually beneficial partnerships and exchanges with the UK cultural sector.

DAY 1 - Monday 21 February

Day 1- British Council Jordan - Arts in the Digital Age Online Forum

6.00PM (Jordan): Arts in the Digital Age – welcome note and forum overview (including brief presentation by FutureEverything)

6.15PM: Setting the scene: Arts in the Digital Age – Research Mapping of Jordan – A sneak preview of British Council in Jordan’s newly commissioned research report conducted by artmejo, the digital platform promoting art & culture in the Arab world. Find out how digital technology has been impacting artistic and creative practices in Jordan, its key stakeholders and domains, the opportunities in building audiences and what the future holds.

Speakers: Hind Joucka (founder artmejo)

6.45PM: Digital Art and why it matters – Is technology impacting creative outputs and how? Are artistic practices having an influence in technology and science sectors? Leading practitioners share ways of working with digital technologies and interdisciplinary approaches, and why digital art matters. From artistic practices that entangle with live data, virtual worlds, artificial intelligence and the internet, what are the challenges and opportunities for digital art practices and how do curators and art institutions respond?

Speakers: Semiconductor & Kit Monkman (KMA)

7.45PM: [Digital] Transmissions – Professional exchange session – Join fellow artists and creative professionals in a facilitated exchange session, focus groups and peer review that aims to share best practices, as well as support and advice working with digital technologies. Digital art practises often involve multiple skills and teams, and access to specialist equipment and production budgets that can be inaccessible to many artists or challenging. This session will enable participants to ask questions, get practical tips and advice on working with digital, share learnings and insights, and discuss needs and challenges.

Session facilitators: Vicky Clarke (Associate Artist, FutureEverything)

8.45PM: Day 1 closing note and briefing for Day 2 – British Council Jordan and FutureEverything

DAY 2 - Tuesday 22 February

Day 2 - British Council Jordan - Arts in the Digital Age Online Forum

6.00PM: Day 2 welcome note and programme outline – British Council Jordan and FutureEverything

6.05PM: What the NFT? – While the art world went on a standstill during a global pandemic, NFTs skyrocketed. When global traditional art market sales fell, NFT sales suddenly boomed, and many artists excluded from mainstream art markets found a way to sell their work. Are NFTs transforming the art world and impacting the way we create, sell, buy or experience are, or are we witnessing a short-lived trend? 

Artists Julie Freeman and Matthew Plummer Fernandez share their experiences with NFTs and demystifying minting, marketplaces, as well as opportunities, challenges and risks.

6.50PM: Curating Digital Art – How are curators and art institutions responding to digital art practices? How can they be equipped to support, commission, produce, display, acquire, maintain and preserve digital art? And how can they adapt to stay relevant, reach younger, tech-savvy audiences and respond to changes, and emerging technologies adopted by artists today and in the future?  Embracing digital art can be challenging for many museums and galleries, especially if there is limited support, knowledge and technical expertise, however as we have seen in recent years, digital art spaces, experiences and exhibitions are attracting a lot of interest and growing audiences receptive to new art mediums. Artists engaging with digital technologies can create new and critical ways through which we see the world and understand contemporary (technological) society.

Check out our panel of experts and museum/gallery professionals as they discuss exhibiting, commissioning, acquiring digital art and supporting artists, as well as opportunities for museums and galleries to present multi sensory experiences, interdisciplinary work and connect with new audiences.

Speakers: Hannah Redler Hawes (Curator, Director, Data as Culture Art Programme, Open Data Institute, Tom Higham (Creative Director, York Mediale) and Khaldoun Hijazin (Director, Art and Cultural Programs, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts)

7.40PM Day 2 closing note and briefing for Day 3 – British Council Jordan and FutureEverything


8.20PM – 9.50PM: Digital Transformation – LIMITED NUMBER MASTERCLASS (CLOSED GROUP EVENT – separate registration) 

An opportunity for a limited number of participants to take part in an artist-led creative masterclass focussing on topics such as getting started with digital technologies, artistic development tools for creative practitioners interested in digital and approaches for making art using digital and electronic media. During the session, participants had a chance to explore how to start with collaborations, exhibition and commissioning opportunities, and selling work. 

Led by: Alex May with FutureEverything, British Council and Hind Joucka (artmejo)

DAY 3 - Wednesday 23 February

Day 3 - British Council Jordan - Arts in the Digital Age Online Forum

6.00PM: Day 3 welcome note and programme outline – British Council Jordan and FutureEverything

6.05PM: Digital art for all? – Digital technologies can enable cultural organisations and artists to reach audiences in unconventional ways and create immersive experiences, and new engagement opportunities. They also have potential in attracting new, younger audiences, enabling collaboration and playfulness, but also critical thinking and new perspectives engaging with artefacts and environments.

Technology can act as a marketing tool, a conversation starter, sometimes also an attention-grabber that could nonetheless lead to deeper and meaningful engagement.

This session brings together leading art practitioners and experts sharing case studies of digital art practices and experimental work that creates outstanding audience experiences, as well as examples of engaging with audiences with immersive, multisensory, interactive, and socially engaged experiences (online and physical).

Speakers: Louise Hargreaves (Abandon Normal Devices), May Abdalla (Anagram) and Eddie Hasweh

7.05PM: What happens to art during a pandemic – The past couple of years, as the pandemic hit us, the arts turned to the internet to continue activity and pre-pandemic operations, and keep connected to their audiences. 

Although it’s well known that art institutions and artists have been active and creating online long before the pandemic, with ongoing lockdowns and restrictions for two years now, the internet presented an opportunity to suddenly move the whole art world online, from exhibitions, performances, screenings and talks to commercial art fairs and sales. With an increase of art activity and digital spaces online and a focus on hybrid ways of working – and if the internet is where one can find work by most artists – what is the impact on artistic practices and what does the future hold for traditional art spaces and experiences?

Speakers: Rachel Gadsden & Suha Lalla

8PM: Better together? Partnerships in art and technology – Art can play a significant role in helping us see the bigger picture, expand our horizons, and interrogate the world and society. When art is taken outside art domains and being part of wider conversations and other layers of society, it can become a powerful tool and catalyst for change. Partnerships and interdisciplinary collaborations are vital in opening up new possibilities and ways of thinking.  But what makes art and technology partnerships or collaborations work? What are the benefits for bringing together people from different disciplines and sectors and what could the potential challenges be? 

This session explored partnership and collaboration models by sharing case studies in the UK and Jordan, as well as learnings and lessons for successful future arts and tech collaborations. 

Speakers: Anna Dumitriu, and Raya Sharbain (Jordan Open Source Association)

8.40PM: Forum closing note and next steps – British Council Jordan

The Arts in the Digital Age Forum is commissioned by the British Council in Jordan and curated by FutureEverything.