It's already February, can you believe it? We are working on our plans for 2022, however, we thought we would take a moment to reflect on last year's programme.
In 2021, NEoN was hard at work behind the scenes of our Wired Women* programme, which was co-curated and co-produced with Artist/curator Ailie Rutherford. Ailie is well known for her work in exploring potential applications of new and emerging technologies within feminist and community currency.
Our public programme of events was much more focused this year, events among which were our screening and discussion of Coded Bias, and our Round the Virtual Table discussion. Our November festival highlighted the contribution of female and nonbinary artists in shaping the digital and technology-driven arts sector. Behind the scenes, we completed our ReGrowing Digital Arts commissions project with Dr Michael Pierre Johnson from the Innovation School at the Glasgow School of Art. These three commissions were Rethinking Symposia as Systems by Nathan Jones, Guide to Best Practice in Digital Arts Commissions by Bilyana Palankasova, and Manifesto for Digital Arts Work Placements by Beatrix Livesey-Stephens, (text version here) (short version here), which were presented at the ReGrowing Digital Arts Webinar Showcase in August 2020. We hope that these commissions will be aids in fostering ethics and drive within a new, more accessible framework for digital arts. On the subject of accessibility, NEoN recruited an Accessibility Officer after the ReGrowing Digital Arts commissions project.
One of NEoN’s core aims is to make digital arts accessible to all, and recruiting someone specifically to work on the accessibility of the organisation was an important step in the right direction. With their guidance, we hired live captioners for our online festival events and BSL interpreters for our screening of Rosana Cade’s Walking:Holding and the subsequent discussion. We are in the process of making the event transcripts and festival videos public. Ideally, we would like to have live-captioners and BSL interpreters for all of our events, and we will continue working towards this goal. We have also created a Social Media Accessibility Guide, which we will use to make sure everyone can access NEoN’s social media pages. In keeping with this, we are beginning plans to produce audio recordings of the articles on our website.
This year, we also started consulting the artists we commission about the accessibility of their work, such as captions, colour contrast, and voiceover. We are in the middle of producing an accessibility guide for events and artists (with some handy checklists!), which will be attached to the Guide to Best Practice in Digital Arts Commissions. Now that we have delivered a festival with part of our budget specifically spent on accessibility measures, we are better prepared to apply for funding with the realistic cost of accessibility in mind and attempt to provide comprehensive accessibility measures across our programme of events.
We will continue working with communities in Dundee and are looking to expand on the work we are already doing. NEoN Digital Arts believes digital art and technology can positively impact people, children and the community. We have developed our outreach programme to include workshops, talks and activities through which we aim to inspire creativity, increase understanding and generate interest in Digital Arts. Looking forward to this year’s programme, we’re going to focus on what we are calling a ‘Radical Digital Care Framework’. This framework will be informed by examining NEoNs digital processes. Through the lens of queer and feminist practices, it wants to assess the ethical and moral implications of its software and hardware. Through the audit, we aim to develop a conceptual framework and put in place internal processes that allow us to better articulate and assess the choices we make for digital infrastructures.
We are always open to working with new partners or groups. To get involved or for more information about our outreach activities, please drop us an email to start a conversation.
Image Credit: Screen shot of Gathering Multitudes: A Bag of Stars, online game by Padmini Ray Murray