Are Friends Electric

Feature by Mark Daniels | 11 Mar 2010
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The trouble with (or joy of) curating new media is that somebody somewhere moves the goalposts one way or another almost everyday. New media becomes old media in the blink of an eye. The fickle finger of fate just loves to decide which technologies and which platforms are to survive the cut and thrust of digital practice and use. At New Media Scotland we find that we have to strike a balance between the needs of the masses and the desires of the individual. It helps if we stay ahead of the game, be there right from the start with the killer apps that creators and consumers grasp hold of and run with. We do this by distributing funding for new ideas from artists and technologists via the Alt-w fund we manage on behalf of Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council. We’re right in the thick of application surgeries right now, and by the time you read this we’ll have announced who the next batch of lucky recipients are. It’s always good to meet faces, old and new, and hear their ideas.

Alt-w was set up in 2000 in recognition of the creative potential of the World Wide Web. The bulk of projects supported were artist’s websites, but in 2008 we decided it was time to shift the goalposts ourselves and encourage deeper thinking about what the web of things might be and what new ways of dynamic audience engagement might lie beyond the traditional screen. The surgeries help to tease these ideas out. Collectively we help Scottish digital culture continue its move forward. Alt-w is not about commerce or social benefit. It’s about supporting different kinds of creative economies that are equally impactful and relevant.

With this in mind, and a continuing desire to support and retain our rising stars, we’re curating a new show, ‘Are Friends Electric?’ with students from the Design & Digital Media course from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Art, Culture & Environment. If you’re passing by, look out for the man wearing the pixelated hat of a digital maven, that’ll be me. As it’s our first studio show, it’s too soon to say what the results may be, but expect the best.