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Thinking

xCommunicate: innovation, future connections, successes and failures

As part of Vivid Ideas, xCommunicate (pronounced “cross communicate”) Symposium was presented by UTV and UNSW Art & Design. Talking technology, digital and new media, community engagement and experimentation, the sixteen speakers addressed the themes of ‘The Local Vernacular,’ ‘Innovation or Alienation’ and ‘Future Connections.’ Here are some of the points that we found most striking:

Sharing successes and failures openly
Many speakers addressed ideas and concepts that had been put into action that did not necessarily achieve the desired results. For example, Matt Jones, who co-ordinates the events held in Federation Square (Melbourne), spoke openly about an international art project that, due to lack of contextualisation, failed to attract a sizeable audience. Listening closely to people discussing their failures – and what they learnt from them – was invaluable.

Reach out
John Kirkman, the Executive Director of Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE), presented his talk on ‘No Romance Required: Working In Community.’ He highlighted the vast potential of collaborating with people from communities that are not necessarily art-educated, in particular referencing ICE’s work with communities in Western Sydney. Reach out, be open-minded, and connect through creative collaboration.

Target your niches at the right time
A thread that linked some of the speakers was an experience of being ‘before their time.’ Whilst this spoke immensely to the quality of their innovations and foresight, we also gleaned from their talks a common struggle of being misunderstood or having works rejected. Whilst they were effective in opening up new creative fields over time, these talks also highlighted the need to anticipate your niche at the right time and with the right contextualisation. Don’t alienate your audience; translate your innovation for them and bring them into the future.

 

Think in this order: Context  Content  Space  Technology

 

Corporate funding is not always bad
Collaborate together to find a ground on which you are both passionate. In order for this to work well, both the public and private parties involved need to have a good understanding of both sides of the coin. An example of this is the programming at Federation Square in Melbourne. The small percentage of private, corporate content that they show on their screen helps to fund smaller art projects that would otherwise be challenging to fund.

Invention is not innovation. Innovation has a market
Interaction was a key point of the symposium; success with an interactive audience guided the overall success of the project. Of note was Bruce Ramus’ presentation ‘Light Hearts; Creating a Place for Communities to Engage with Creative Expression.’ Think of your market and how they will turn your invention into a provocative innovation.

Be a cultural warrior
The theme of traversing the bureaucratic and financial red tape was alluded to throughout the symposium by several speakers including Vicki Sowry from the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and Lubi Thomas, the curator for the XCommunicate symposium. Thomas made a sound point that artists should try to work within the bureaucratic confines they find themselves in and find ways to make in-roads within their practice. This could be done either through collaboration with another cultural warrior within another organisation or creatively crafting out practical proposals to influence board decisions. A key example was the partnership between the Queensland University of Technology and the Queensland libraries.

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