This year's speakers, top row: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Frank Swain, Georgina Voss, Farida Vis. Middle row: Keller Easterling, Maja Kuzmanovic, Paula Le Dieu, Justin Pickard. Bottom row: Simon Ings, Paul Graham Raven, Timo Arnall, Tobias Revell
This year's speakers, top row: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Frank Swain, Georgina Voss, Farida Vis. Middle row: Keller Easterling, Maja Kuzmanovic, Paula Le Dieu, Justin Pickard. Bottom row: Simon Ings, Paul Graham Raven, Timo Arnall, Tobias Revell


Brighton Digital Festival 2013



Lighthouse's digital culture conference, Improving Reality, returned for a third year this September. Talks included tours through worlds that artists are growing rather than making, critical revelations of the systems and infrastructures that shape our world, and narratives of radical alternative futures.

Luke Jerram speaker at Improving Reality 2012
Luke Jerram speaker at Improving Reality 2012

Download the full 2013 programme

An inspiring day of talks that explored how artists and designers are shifting our perceptions of the world. This year, major thinkers such as Keller Easterling, artist and synthetic biologist, Daisy Ginsberg, and gonzo futurist, Justin Pickard, were amongst our speakers.

We were delighted that Arc were our media partners for Improving Reality 2013. Arc was created by the makers of the New Scientist, and has emerged as one of the most exciting forums for writing about the near-future, science and science fiction. Arc sent a group of correspondents to the conference to capture the discussions. Their editor, Simon Ings also contributed as a moderator.

18.09.13 – Web Designer and Artist Natalie Kane blogs about Improving Reality 2013 for Medium

03.09.2013 – Improving Reality speaker Paul Graham Raven’s blog for Arc on our relationship to infrastructures

02.09.2013 – Improving Reality speaker Georgina Voss’s blog for Arc on the political future of food

02.09.2013 – Improving Reality speaker Tobias Revell’s blog for Arc on building worlds

21.08.2013 – Arc interview Lighthouse’s Artistic Director Honor Harger about Improving Reality and announce an exclusive ticket giveaway

We were also thrilled to announce a new group of speakers and contributors:

- Timo Arnall (UK/NO) – designer, filmmaker and creative director of design agency, BERG. Timo is presenting the exhibition, Immaterials at Lighthouse until 1st November, which makes technological infrastructures, visible.

- Simon Ings (UK) – novelist, science writer, and author of the acclaimed books, The Weight of Numbers, The Eye: A Natural History, and Dead Water, among others. He is currently the editor of Arc. Simon moderated one of the conference sessions.

- Paul Graham Raven (UK) – writer and foresight consultant, currently working as a researcher at the University of Sheffield, looking at Infrastructure Futures. He writes science fiction for leading publications, and for his own websites, Futurismic and Velcro City Tourist Board. Earlier this year, he published a major essay on Infrastructure Fiction, which was one of our key themes for the day.

- Tobias Revell (UK) – artist and designer with a deep interest in economics, political systems and world history. He is a graduate of the Royal College of Art’s Design Interactions department, and is an associate and Superflux in London. He has forthcoming exhibitions at Science Gallery Dublin and Ars Electronica in Linz.

They joined this stellar cast of speakers, which was announced earlier:

- Keller Easterling (USA) – architect, urbanist, professor at Yale University, and author of the influential books, Enduring Innocence, Organization Space, and the forthcoming, Extrastatecraft, which examines global infrastructure networks

- Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg (UK) – artist, designer and writer best known for her ground-breaking work with synthetic biology. She is a former winner of the prestigious World Technology Award, and has showed work at MoMA New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museum of China, among many other places.

- Maja Kuzmanovic (BE/HR) – artist, design futurist and founder of the interdisciplinary lab, FoAM, based in Brussels, whose projects span alternate reality storytelling, resilience, speculative culture and food systems.

- Paula Le Dieu (UK/AU) – digital director who works with digital experiences, media futures, and archives in the digital age. She was formerly Director of Digital at the BFI, and is currently working with the Mozilla Foundation.

- Justin Pickard (UK) – writer, researcher and ‘gonzo futurist’, exploring the emerging contours of the 21st century, whilst also undertaking academic research into science and technology policy.

- Frank Swain (UK) – science writer, who has written for the Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Wired, New Scientist, BBC, Slate, and more. He is the creator of SciencePunk, and author of the book, How to Make a Zombie.

- Farida Vis (UK) – researches social media, crisis communication, visual communication, data journalism, open data and algorithms at the University of Sheffield. She was a key part of the Reading the Riots project, which analysed the use of social media during the 2011 riots in the UK.

- Georgina Voss (UK) – researcher and writer investigating design, innovation, technological practices, gender and sexuality, and ethics. Has undertaken projects with Tinker London, MIT, BIS, the European Commission, and BERG, and is currently working on a book entitled, Stigma and the Shaping of the Pornography Industry

They were joined by writers and makers exploring the outer edges of reality, art and technology, who covered the day’s proceedings for our media partner, Arc.

The conference was one of a series of projects Lighthouse curated for Brighton Digital Festival 2013, a month long celebration of digital culture this September. Improving Reality 2013 both expanded on the ideas presented in the exhibitions and other projects we curated, as well as created opportunities for interchange between the arts and digital creative industry sectors. Support from Arts Council England allowed us to make the conference affordable.

Improving Reality 2013 buillt on the first two Improving Reality conferences. Last year’s event featured Warren Ellis, Luke Jerram, Anab Jain, Leila Johnstone, Usman Haquetext and more. You can watch those talks here. Warren Ellis’ talk, The Science Fiction Condition, proved to be a particular hit:

The 2011 conference included Alice Taylor, Adrian Hon, Matt Locke, Julian Oliver, Blast Theory and many others, whose talks are here. The conference title is inspired by artist, Julian Oliver, who opened the first Improving Reality conference in 2011. Check out his talk below:

Date: Thursday 5 September 2013

Tickets: £24/£12

Booking: This event is now sold-out, please join our eventbrite wait list here and we will be in touch if we receive any

Venue: Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, 29 New Road, Brighton BN1 1UG

Event hashtag: #ireality

Improving Reality 2013 is part of Brighton Digital Festival 2013. It is run by members of Brighton’s arts and digital communities, administered by Wired Sussex in association with Lighthouse and supported by Arts Council England. and Brighton & Hove City Council

With thanks to Brighton Festival and Dome.

Improving Reality



Sign up to our mailing list to receive regular email updates on exhibitions, events and other news.