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Discovering Digital talent for NEoN 13

Clare Brennan, Curator @ Abertay University

In the aftermath of a hectic, but very successful ‘Abertay Digital Graduate Show’, I began to prepare for a special trip. In early June of this year I donned my NEoN cap (proverbially speaking, I wasn’t actually dressed as an 80’s throw-back) and headed south to the Big Smoke to sniff out the latest in Digital Arts talent for this year’s festival!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that the wonderful Victoria and Albert Museum is opening their Scottish franchise in the fair city of Dundee.  As Curator of the Hannah Maclure Centre (HMC) at Abertay University, one of the V&A Dundee key partner’s, it’s imperative that we make meaningful and strong connections with our London-based counterparts. As such, conversation had been flowing between the HMC team and the V&A Digital Programmes team for a while and both parties were keen to collaborate. So when we learnt about their project Digital Futures, (which offers emerging artists the opportunity to showcase new work, network and develop future collaborations), we suggested that this may be the perfect place to begin our search for the NEoN 13 exhibiting artist.

Working alongside Irini Papadimitriou (the V&A’s Digital Programmes Team Administrator), we researched a huge number of young artists whose practice is driven by creative technology. Many of the artists were students or recent graduates (PhD and MA) from courses such as Computational Arts, Digital Design, New Media Art, Digital Performance, Art & Science etc so the work was diverse and eclectic. Together we created a shortlist of creative contenders and from there it would be down to the NEoN committee to select their favourite.

Upon my return to bonnie Dundee I got together with the NEoN team to decide which of these many talented artists would be the lucky devil who would be offered a solo show in the festival! It wasn’t easy… but finally we made a unanimous decision to select Francesca Perona for NEoN 13.

Perona’s playful interactive soft sculptures intrigued and delighted us. A graduate of Goldsmiths, her work demonstrated a strong aesthetic, which is simultaneously absurd and beautiful. With a background in textile design Perona is investigating ‘material programmability’, gathering knowledge from computer science, biology, engineering and material science to create new experimental work.

For NEoN 13 she is researching the changing landscapes of Dundee which will inspire a new piece of work to be exhibited at the Hannah Maclure Centre during the festival. She will be visiting our fair city during Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference and the inaugural Print Festival Scotland to meet local creatives and sample some Dundee culture!

NEoN seeks to nurture and support emerging artists, offering a platform for them to experiment, develop and present their work to new audiences. We are very excited to be working with Perona and to support her in the creation of a new body of work.

Watch this space for updates on Francesca Perona’s progress!