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  • Writer's picturealicjapawluczuk

Re@ct! Social Change Art Technology presentation - "Storifying the digital divide: what can the

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

On the 6th of November I'll be joining a panel on "Early Video Art, archives and activism" at the Re@ct! Social Change Art Technology seminar in Dundee. In the panel, I will be joined by Professor Tony Dowmunt from the Goldsmith University of London and Adam Lockhart from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (University of Dundee).

In his presentation, Prof. Dowmunt will explore the work of the London Video Archive and some of the use of anti-racist material from the 1970s in current debates and filmmaking, the role of archive video playbacks in response to the current housing crisis, and within the community contexts in which tapes were made. Adam Lockhart will examine how early video artists and activists used how technology to voice to marginalised people and groups, allowing them to fight the established system.

Image credit: Neon Festival 2019

My presentation: Storifying the digital divide: what can the 1970's community video teach us about the inequalities in the digital age?

In my presentation, I will be reflecting on my experience of using Scottish community video archives while teaching digital storytelling to young people. The talk will explore young people’s interactions with archive material, and its possible use in the educational media setting (both formal and informal learning).

My presentation aims to explore the following questions:

  • How does the work of these movements fit into current participatory digital storytelling practice and media literacy debates?

  • What does it mean to be a radical media maker in the digital era?

  • And finally, what can young digital media designers and producers take from the work ethos of the early community media activists?

Nowadays, participatory digital media provides disadvantaged communities with a voice, and digital storytelling tools, live-streaming, social media and vlogs are being regularly used by grassroots activists (e.g. #BlackLivesMatter or #MeToo) - re-defining our perspectives of collective action and often also leading to real life changes. It can be argued that in the hyper-connected digital era, most of us have become media co-creators. However, digital technologies have also unleashed new inequalities of power and wealth, reinforcing divisions between the information rich and poor, the activists and disengaged. The utopian idea of participatory media and digital culture has been questioned in recent debates on disinformation, deep fakes, algorithmic oppression, and social media echo-chambers. While digital technologies have democratised our access to the media making process, they have not entirely helped when fighting with the problems initially covered by the community video movements in the 1960s (e.g. poverty, gender, and racial discrimination).

In my presentation, I will examine how the work of the early community media activists can help us to navigate the inequalities in the digital age.

Source: GameScences

About the NEoN Digital Arts Festival – REACT 2019

NEoN Digital Arts Festival – REACT 2019 in Dundee, Scotland, will be exploring how artists use digital systems to effect change within our social and political realities. NEoN was founded in 2009, and with every annual edition of the festival has hosted an artist-led symposium. This year, we are very pleased to be organising an expanded 3-day symposium and interconnected activities entitled, Re@ct: Social Change Art Technology (from the 6th to the 8th November 2019), chaired by Professor Joseph DeLappe (Abertay University, Dundee), Professor Sarah Cook (University of Glasgow) and Dr Laura Leuzzi (DJCAD, University of Dundee).

Many artists involved in digital arts have historically been prompted to react and respond to local, national, global, social and political crises (i.e. around issues of environmentalism, gender equality, exploitation, colonialism, militarism, emancipation). Re@ct will be a platform to critically examine the relevance and impact of past and present practices, theories and strategies – to engage an uncertain future through an exploration of the creative potential of digital art.

  • Re@ct aims to provide a forum to explore how activist artists develop critical approaches to utilise, champion and pioneer the creative use of new technologies. To investigate experimental research methodologies – both theoretical and practice-based. To retrace early experiments by digital artists involved at different levels in forms of activism. To reconstruct histories at present ‘lost’ to international scholarship. To question how to preserve these artworks, with their context and narratives and how to represent and re-mediate them to future generations.

  • Re@ct aims to present contemporary strategies and forms of protest, resistance, resilience and reaction enacted by artists. To debate the status and role of the artists, curators, art historians, collectives, producers and institutions involved in digital art and activism. To reconsider the role and the dynamics of activists’ artists’ communities and collectives today. To investigate the impact of digital art and activism upon society on a larger scale, on the government and on economies – does it work?

  • Re@ct aims to imagine and speculate as to how best to move forward into the 21st century utilising emerging digital technologies (virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, etc). To stimulate the production and dissemination of written and practice-based methodologies for the ongoing engagement of social and political digital art production and scholarship.

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