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An Introduction to the FutureEverything Story

An Introduction by FutureEverything Founder Drew Hemment

Author: Drew Hemment

This series of articles and reports tells the story of FutureEverything. We look from when it was founded in 1995 to the current day. We try to make sense of how, and why, a festival came to have such an outsized influence. Along the way we chart the development of digital culture in the UK and Europe.

FutureEverything was born in a time of creativity and permission when people were inventing their own realities on the Web. It brought people together to discover, share and experience new ideas about the future. FutureEverything provided a place to ask searching questions about our digital society, make and test possible futures, and take part in electronic arts pulsing through a city.

We came together to realise the emancipatory and creative possibilities of the Internet. We soon faced the dawning reality of centralisation, inequality, electronic waste, and loss of privacy at an unprecedented scale. We dared to hope and hold open spaces for other realities to take hold. Much of what we have done was introducing openness, art, design to surprising places, from science to cities. The critical futurism of the festival became surrounded by an organisation that applies this insight in science, in cities, as well as in art. The big shift was from showcasing projects and people we admire, to convening, imagining and directing projects year-round that stretch far beyond the festival.

The FutureEverything Story (Part 1 & Part 2) is a research project by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, conducted by doctoral researcher, Bilyana Palankasova. It asks how the activities of FutureEverything, in its form of a festival, generated value and how that enabled its transition to an agency. To gain insight into the distinct value of commissioning at festivals, the research considers how festivals operate as nodes, sprawling networks, connecting disciplines, incubating creativity and fostering collaboration within and outwith the arts.

We aim to lay the foundation and research for the development of a publicly accessible digital archive of FutureEverything.

We hope you enjoy this publication series.

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