Watermans' Riverside Art Centre - London
14 / 11 / 2015 – 15 / 11 / 2015

For two days, leading New Media artists from all over the world, from South Africa to Brighton to Belgium are gathering in Watermans’ Riverside Art Centre to deliver an explosive programme of digital performances, dance, workshops, installations, and interactive events. The New Media Arts programme at Watermans is one of the most experimental and far-reaching in the field. On 14th and 15th November 2015 the West London venue is hosting its third annual Digital Performance Weekender, and this year’s theme is Data Bodies– privacy in a big data world.

Saturday night’s spectacular dance/music double bill includes Alexander Whitley’s visually striking and kinetically charged choreography in The Measures Taken, a solo adaptation of the work commissioned by the Royal Ballet, created in collaboration with digital media artists Marshmallow Laser Feast. Newcomers to the New Media Arts scene will enjoy Bio-artist Anna Dumitriu’s latest work Sequenceand put on Virtual Reality headsets for a journey of discovery into the world of bacteria.

They will also enjoy Crew’s C.A.P.E. (Computer Automatic Personal Environment) where visitors are equipped with “omni-directional equipment” for an immersive adventure. New Media Arts professionals will find the Symposium un-missable, bringing together a truly expert panel to discuss issues around data privacy. The Production Methods discussion will explore in depth their major exhibition Executive Chair. And children get a chance to hack their electronic toys in the Circuit Bending Orchestra Workshop, on Sunday.

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The original full-length version of Measures Takenwas commissioned by The Royal Ballet and performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden to huge critical acclaim. This 20-minute solo adaptation has been created in collaboration with digital media artists Marshmallow Laser Feast and uses motion-tracking technology to project visuals that interact with the performers’ movements in real-time.

Sound artist Tasos Stamou presents two exploratory music orchestras incorporating hacked, DIY and handmade instruments. Circuit Bending Orchestra and Hackoustic Orchestra will perform a series of open compositions and conducted improvisations, placed outside the usual stage arrangement. Performers will surround the audience, creating a diffused-sound electro-acoustic environment.

The project had previously been shown at Hack the Barbican DIY arts project in 2013 at the Barbican. Hackoustic’s latest presentations include a performance at the Turbine Festival at Tate Modern and Cafe OTO

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Giant sized office document boxes transform the gallery space at Watermans into a virtual place of business, site of production and corporate entity in this Executive Chair installation that offers a radically new perspective of our working environments and practices. A series of participatory workshops accompanies the exhibition.

Anna Dumitriu is one of the best know bio-artists, working closely with leading scientists to produce art and performance. Her work is permanently installed at The Eden Project and has recently been show at the Digital Design Weekend at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Her new artwork Sequence fuses leading digital technology with bacterial bio-art, traditional media and altered historical artifacts to investigate the emerging technology of whole genome sequencing of bacteria. The installation makes us consider the impact of genome sequencing – personally, culturally and socially.

Artist-programmer Alex May takes as his starting point the 2.8 million base pairs of the sequenced DNA of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (a cousin of the MRSA ‘superbug’) taken from his own body. He investigates how the technology to read this DNA operates in both a practical and cultural context. The work is set against a backdrop of public concerns around privacy, the commercialization of data, the threat of new pandemics and the lack of new antibiotic treatments.

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The project was created in collaboration with microbiologists, bio-informaticians, computer scientists and ethicists from Public Health England, The University of Oxford, The University of Hertfordshire, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, making it a truly cross discipline event.

To understand the technologies behind whole genome sequencing of bacteria, Anna Dumitriu and Alex May have created this virtual reality experience of genome data, offered to visitors wearing Oculus Rift VR headsets. The Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festivalinpartnership with Watermans have developed an exciting residency that runs for three weeks in Johannesburg in August/September and continues in London as part of the Digital Performance Weekender.

Digital Artists Jepchumba, Kasia Molga, Ling Tan and Nathan Gates, based at the Wits Art Museum, have created Futurist Visions of Johannesburg to explore cultural technologies with residents of the city. At Watermans they will engage audiences in discussions and hands on activities around their practices.

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Although digital social networks are now at the heart of our lives – circulating knowledge and fostering innovation – they are also closely monitored, leading to hyper-centralized forms of surveillance. This symposium led by a the leading voices in new media, studies how people contribute to ‘a permanent capture of life into data’ through daily routines of surfing, shopping, and life-logging. Artists, academics, technologists and users will debate issues of privacy in relation to big data capture, to raise awareness of the scale and applications of these practices, to propose ways of responding to the loss of privacy and to consider avenues for resistance to the risks of self-quantification.

C.A.P.E. (Computer Automatic Personal Environment) offers an incomparable 20-minute immersive adventure. The visitor is equipped with “omni-directional equipment” – trackers, a headset, laptop and video glasses that causes them to re-experience their visual and haptic senses. Premiered at the Shanghai World Exhibition in 2010, this format offers a radically new way for audience members to engage with a narrative.This work by the Brussels-based performance group CREW, initiated by artist Eric Joris, allows participants to explore self-representation in systems that move between installation art, theatre and performance.

Fashion and other designers, artists, performers,technologists, bio-technologists and wearable DIY enthusiasts meet in Stitch Bitch, Make/ Perform to show, share, plan, educate, and learn from each other. They research and create soft circuits, e-textiles, digital fashion, wearables and DIY electronics, which are then used in visual art and performance. The group started at Watermans Digital Performance Weekender last year, and now has over 50 members. The event this year joins discussion of topical issues around technologies with hands-on workshops and a demonstration of participant’s current work.

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Participants to this workshop are invited to reflect on issues surrounding privacy in the face of Big Data. Specifically, it will study data capture practices in software applications such as Foursquare, Fitbit, and Moodpanda. The workshop will propose ways of responding to loss of privacy; part of the Being Human: a festival of the humanities, in collaboration with London South Bank University.

Data Privacy issues are especially important for young people who vulnerable to data ‘leakage’. This workshop makes transparent the data gathering, mining, and exploitation that surrounds and targets us. Topics range from data capture practices of apps like Foursquare and Fitbit to privacy-enhancing strategies and technologies. Led by Emilie Giles and Alan Waldock. Part of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities, in collaboration with London South Bank University.

Little Howard has discovered the pencil that drew him. But, on the other end of this magical pencil of life is the eraser of death, and a dark force is at large determined to rub the cheeky chap out for good. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Big Howard has had a real-life baby who is getting a little too much attention!

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Can Little Howard escape his supernatural nemesis? How will he get rid of this pesky new arrival? Who knows … but there will be danger, drama and a lot of laughs on the way. With interactive stand-up, 3D animation and lots of songs this really is a show that all the family can enjoy.

Sound artist and music technologist Tasos Stamou teaches children to recycle musical toys. In simple and amusing ways, children will turn ‘hackable’ electronic sound toys into unique sonic devices and experimental music instruments. This is a practical, hands-on workshop, including the most common and effective circuit bending modifications. Participants are welcome to bring their own electronic toys for bending but hackable toys will also be provided from a large selection. Please contact the artists with any questions regarding the “hackability” of your own devices.