Brighton Digital Festival is Underway
09 June 2015
It's been a phenomenal start to the 2011 Brighton Digital Festival, with thousands of visitors flocking to the city to enjoy the programme. By Honor Harger
Brighton Digital Festival launched on Thursday 1 September, and has, thus far, proved to be a resounding success.
At Phoenix Brighton gallery on Thursday evening, at the Private View of Solar Systems, stirring speeches by festival steering group member, Aral Balkan, Brighton & Hove City Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, and Arts Council regional director, Sally Abbott, emphasised how significant it is for Brighton to have a festival that raises the profile of its vibrant digital community.
The artistic programme kicked things off in fine style. Blast Theory‘s A Machine to See With wowed its first set of ’players’ who took on the lead role in a heist film, played out on the streets of Brighton. *Semiconductor*’s remarkable exhibition, Solar Systems is a homage to our nearest star – the Sun – and it dazzled those who came to the private views on Thursday and Friday. And Katy Connor’s Pure Flow installation at Permanent Gallery impressed and intrigued everyone from local passers-by to the BBC World Service.
On Friday, the first of Brighton Digital Festival’s six major conferences – dConstruct 2011 – packed out Brighton Dome. The conference had sold out months before, with it’s 800 tickets being snapped up in an incredible seven hours.
Over the course of the day, some the world’s major thought-leaders in digital design surprised and delighted a full house.
My highlights included Craig Mod’s wonderfully surreal tale of the origin of the book; Kars Alfrink’s thought-provoking account of the social disconnection which is rife in so many cities in Europe; Matthew Sheret’s charming account of timelord technology; and Kevin Slavin’s barnstorming reprisal of his MoMo Amsterdam lecture, Reality is Plenty, Thanks – an erudite critique of the new wave of augmented reality applications.
On Saturday Brighton’s first Mini Maker Faire opened it’s doors at Brighton Dome, and almost immediately was full of visitors of all ages. The faire showcased the ingenious and mind-boggling creations of over 40 makers, hackers and crafters from around the country. RepRap 3D printers, sat next to reel-to-reel tape loops; giant pantograph machines operated alongside BBC Micro computers; people played games of gingerbread chess, whilst Daleks held up traffic outside. Six-year olds learned to programme in BASIC and kids helped make 3D computer games. There were remote control submarines, a machine that made music from water, and live aquatic monsters you take could home as pets.
Mini Maker Faire attracted an incredible 5473 visitors over the day, showing just how vibrant the maker scene is, and how valuable it is to have a space where hackers, crafters and artists can meet.
On Sunday, the second conference of the festival got underway with a special banquet at Brighton’s iconic Royal Pavilion. Update 2011 – curated by Aral Balkan – focused on user experience design for mobile platforms. On Monday, in front of nearly 500 attendees at Brighton Dome, Update hosted talks on user experience design by leading lights Matt Gemmell and Sarah Parmentier, a passionate defence of open standards and the web by Jeremy Keith of Clearleft, a conversation with co-founder of Apple, Ronald Wayne, and an entertaining piece of live-coding by local developer and artist, Seb Lee-Delisle.
The team from BBC’s Click show – Bill Thompson, Colin Grant and Gareth Mitchell – were on hand to see it all, and a special edition of Click devoted to Brighton Digital Festival will be out later in September.
The festival is only it’s 9th day, and is already exceeding the expectations of the grassroots community that organised it. With over 60 conferences, exhibitions, performances, screenings, workshops, meet-ups and events throughout the month, there’s still plenty more to come.
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