After attending last night’s DigitalSurrey I felt thoroughly inspired. It was a night consisting of a delectable combination of technology, creativity and art. The night primarily focused upon the impact of technology on creativity and the benefits that innovative and older technologies offer to businesses as well as people. The night kicked off with an inspirational talk by Nettie Edwards, a (multiple) award-winning mobile photographer. Nettie’s talk really enthralled me from the start, when she really set the scene surrounding her upbringing and introduction into Photography. Nettie told of her Father’s desire to become a photographer, made even more remarkable by the fact that he was partially sighted.
Nettie’s fascinating journey of becoming a mobile photographer, beginning in 2007 with the release of the first iPhone was quite extraordinary. Nettie explained how the portability and functionality of this device allowed her to relegate Photoshop, and with it her DSLRs to the past and allowed her to create digital iPhone collages – a practice that she played a pioneering role in.
I found Nettie’s observations around the power of the smartphone to create fantastic art, as she has, quite profound. Especially since that now, in 2014, we keep them in our pockets and bags idly, perhaps the magic worn off somewhat from 2007.
We now take their usefulness for granted, but seeing Nettie’s moody, artistic creations born out of the smartphone helped to instill a new yearning to experiment with my own smartphone again – and to re-install Hipstamatic!
Guildford College lecturer Paul Clark then took the stage to briefly showcase his own student’s incredible enthusiasm for their Tablet Art Course – visiting 24 events in one year and inspiring adults and young people alike. To me it was clear to see that this enthusiasm stems from Paul’s own dedication and drive for the course he runs and loves so much.
Paul’s comments on how these portable devices are “weapons of mass creation”, and how tablet art can help break down cultural barriers on public transport (where no one likes to talk to or look at each other) by inciting discussion and fascination was very interesting. Especially as I was someone who grew up in London, witnessing these barriers. Anything that helps break them is something extraordinary in my eyes.
We were then treated to a fantastic demonstration by one of Paul’s former student's own creations - built in a week off from work! It seemed to me to be a combination of a Segway and a bike, and judging from his own demonstration around the room, looked incredibly fun to ride! In my heart of hearts I yearned to have a go, but alas I wasn't wearing the right shoes and was also quite scared of breaking the machine (and myself).
The final speaker, Charlotte Childs, Group Client Director at 3D production company Smart Cookie gave an enthralling talk on just how far we've come since, well, the days of dial-up and 10p-per-minute internet connection. Charlotte spoke of how today anyone can have a go a creating, or coding, or making. She commented that as a nation (and world) we are in the era of hyper connectivity, with 83% of homes connected to the web and 1 in 6 of us having our very own online business! It made me ponder somewhat, just who out of my friends is selling their own knitwear online?
Alan Moore’s principles of non-linear transformation were then put forward, they deal with how humanity can move forward through collaboration and collective involvement. Charlotte spoke of the music industry as a perfect example of an industry resisting change.
As Moore states, “Disrupt yourself before someone else does it for you”. This was incredibly thought-provoking to me, having previously written about the power of adopting great ideas, which, in resisting the online world as a market place for so long, is exactly what the music industry failed to do.
Charlotte then presented to us a fabulous plethora of radical technologies and start-ups. Such as the incredibly inspiring SB.TV founded by 15-year-old Jamal Edwards, and the somewhat Bladerunner-esque trend of Biohacking. This trend which involves, as you might guess, fusing man and machine in the belief that combining the two will speed up evolution itself.
This theory in itself seemed quite scary but also quite exciting and left me wondering just what the world will look like in 20 years from now. Will I “be” the smartphone instead of just owning one?
For now however, I will leave you with a wonderful quote from Clive Adams, one of DigitalSurrey’s attendees last night, who summarised my sentiments up exactly.
I don't know about you but the message I came away with is that brand is everything. It's the story of you whether you're an artist on the fringes of technology or a leading edge techno company. It's a restless roiling digital sea out there and if you don't float bright and attractive you'll be churned back into the anonymous mass.
Assuming the machines don't decide they can do better without us when they finally outstrip us.