REMIX Sydney brought together creative visionaries from leading cultural organisations with technology innovators and entrepreneurs to tackle the big ideas shaping the future of the creative industries. The two-day event, presented as part of Vivid Sydney, canvassed projects and community engagement initiatives enabled by technology to consider what’s in store for the future.
A recurring theme was digital disruption and its affect on culture, engagement and attention. How do you keep people away from their mobile devices for long enough to connect with places like museums and cultural experiences? How can digital technology enhance rather than detract from deep engagement? Among topics considered were the place for innovation in the creative economy and how practitioners are building dynamic social cities.
The power of the Internet to bring makers and dreamers together to create was explored across a range of interactive projects that see producers working with technology in experimental ways. For example, Tom Uglow from Google’s Creative Labs took the audience through a number of current projects including a collaboration with Griffin Theatre.
The Next Stage is a work in progress that challenges conventional storytelling by inviting participation from people who may not usually work together – in this case theatre directors collaborate with people from film and television, architecture, urban planning, banking, gaming, digital and social media. To explore digital theatre both on and off the stage, Griffin and Google have developed parameters for a research and development project that places digital at the core of conceptual development, artistic process and delivery. Among offerings are a 7-part mobile documentary. Another way Google is experimenting with non-linear approaches to stories is via The Cube model that allows users to choose how narratives will unfold.
Cultural branding and co-creation
A session on the evolution of sponsorship, convened by Kate Dezarnauds from TedX, explored how cultural projects can bring meaning and authenticity to partners seeking a greater level of engagement with their stakeholders. Rather than looking for reach, sales, or something money cannot buy, sponsors today want above all to express their own values and connect with communities. To do this, partners seek input into the creative conceptualisation of an initiative. Partnerships must therefore create value for both parties.
Panel members reminded all those looking for corporate support to ask questions and be interested in what would create value for a client rather than focus on being ‘interesting’. Having genuine empathy sparks interesting opportunities for co-creation as was shown by case studies. Other considerations sponsors are likely to consider include context, values alignment, disruption, staff retention and affordability. In Kate’s experience, partnering with an event like TedX represents great value for money as it’s much cheaper and easier to sponsor this kind of large-scale event than to attempt to stage anything like it.
Most of the projects explored at REMIX were about initiatives that create communities and spark conversations. Gaining access to enduring networks is more valuable that simply looking for audiences for one-off events. From Ideas at the House to the Secret Garden Festival, Messina Gelato and Jurassic Lounge, communities built around dialogue and co-creation tend to create their own volunteer culture where participants get involved in how experiences unfold.
Future sponsorship trends to look out for include producer/maker experiences, live research and projects that seek to create a vision for the future. To create purpose and meaning for staff and customers, global brands will continue to look for opportunities to help solve pressing social problems. Communities will gather around projects that have meaning, whether they are artist driven place making initiatives or living memorials like the recent interpretive artwork commemorating the Centenary of ANZAC initiated by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. This unique installation Nomanslanding invited visitors to traverse pontoon bridges to enter a dome and be taken on a poetic interpretation of a soldier’s experience during wartime.
Museums for the future
A fascinating presentation by Australian-born Seb Chan, now based in New York as Director of Digital and Emerging Technologies at Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Museum, looked at the blurring of the physical and virtual in museum culture. Cooper-Hewitt’s introduction of an easy to use interactive pen device developed by Seb and his team has transformed visitor experience and engagement, surpassing all expectations. Visitors now experience the 99% of the Museum’s collection that is never on display. They can have fun collecting objects and building their own collections. Using the pen they can tap an object that tickles their fancy and learn more about it. They can sketch, create models and even access source code. The entire visitor experience can later be downloaded and accessed without internet access, something that is especially important for teachers. A sense of play and permission to create is at the heart of everything. For example, in the immersion room, an extensive collection of wallpaper comes alive on four digital walls, surrounding visitors with decades-old, historic patterns. Visitors can use their pens to design their own wallpaper, scribble on to a digital board then watch their work repeated in patterns on the walls. Seb emphasised how technology has created a fun and easy way for people to connect and relate to the Museum in ways that are meaningful for them. Seb’s work is a fine example of how technology is used to create a deeper level of engagement for people of all ages and abilities.
About the author
Jackie Randles is Manager Inspiring Australia (NSW). Find out more about REMIX Sydney.