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What we’ve been up too…

May 21, 2010

The stage at future everythingLast week half our team attended Future Everything, an absolute must for anyone interested in creativity of any kind, attending Future Everything feeds the imagination. For the last 18 months we at Full Circle have been increasingly interested in new ways to collaborate around both inclusion and creativity and indeed how we can look at processes for inclusion in a creative way.

“New ways of working together are emerging and developing. Networked collaboration, the open sourcing of everything, and increasing ease of access to DIY technologies means an explosion of creativity that was never before possible is blossoming.” (via futureeverything.org)

The best example of this was the winner of the Future Everything Prize (which we encouraged you all to vote for) Eyewriter.

Eyewriter is a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system that allows paralysed people to draw using just their eyes. Of course eye tracking devices have been developed for both military use and for disabled people by big companies, but these cost in the order of £10,000 upwards and have not been developed WITH disabled people.

The Eyewriter is developed by Members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), Open Frameworks, the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group communities working together with legendary LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist, named Tony Quan, aka TEMPTONE an artist who developed ALS in 2003 and is paralyzed apart from eye movement.

This is brilliant example of creativity, inclusion, art, and technology coming together. Listening to Evan Roth at the conference it was absolutely clear that Tony Quan was a member of the team, not someone they were working for. Using open source and low cost materials (around £50) Tony can create graffiti from his bed, which is projected live onto buildings in any city, and he has full feedback of audience reaction. “The long-term goal for the group is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artists and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eye art”.

These are exciting and challenging times and our Artistic Director Chris was invited to present one of 20 short statements at the City Debate organised by Future Everything. The debate was around the future of Manchester “Manchester, the first industrial city, has a long tradition of scientific, political and cultural experimentation. Our proposition is that it should become the first ‘experimental city’, adopting a systematically experimental approach to its development.” The challenging part of the debate was how we take everyone with us.

There was much talk of new technology ‘digital’ and fibre optic broadband, but these are merely tools, it is about how we involve ALL of Manchester’s communities in the creativity of the future these developments can bring. For us, the small community driven developments such as Madlab are key to encouraging a culture of experimentation and innovation working with like minded people who grasp the whole concept of inclusion and collaboration such as the PEOPLE at Future Everything, Zion Centre, Cornerhouse, Contact Theatre, MDDA to name some who well deserve naming. Notice the emboldening of the word people, buildings are, well just buildings, we have a multi- million pound ‘fully- accessible’ buildings, we have cooperative, opened on a few quid, venues like Madlab. It’s the people in them that make them inclusive or not. As one of those inclusive people, Patsy Hodson put it in the debate, “in the future perhaps we should have a Future Everyone”. (Patsy is the Vice-Principle of Manchester Communication Academy).

The future is about the how we include everyone and value his or her contributions. The near future is a bit of a crisis of cuts in spending, but as an audience member said “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” but waste it we will if we don’t take the opportunity that the new tools of high-speed broadband, technology and digital give us, to include everyone in much more open, diverse, networked, creative and innovative city we all deserve.

If you work for an organisation or are organising an event and are looking at making yourselves inclusive and not just accessible we have 2 events in June that you would find very useful.

See our previous blog post for details.

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