I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
The future arrives
A pop-up city, talking lamp posts, music for a thousand years and a two-day conference are amongst the futuristic offerings from a Manchester festival, now in its nineteenth year.
FutureEverything, which takes place at various venues throughout the city, has as its theme this year 'Tools for Unknown Futures'. Drew Hemment, Founder and Chief Executive Officer says the festival is a place to test and question our headlong rush into the world ahead. He adds: "People today now spend more time online chatting to people like themselves, and less time encountering strangers. The purpose of a festival is to come together, to experience new things, to meet people who we would not ordinarily meet."
NOMA the venue for City Fictions. Photograph by WeAreTape.
Here is a completely subjective pick of events that caught my eye when looking through the programme:
1) City Fictions: this 'museum of the future' includes a pop-up city square where street furniture and lamp posts talk to passers-by. There will also be a focus on the highly topical issue of democracy and surveillance. Adam Harvey's 'CV Dazzle Anon Salon', offers a makeover with a difference, where, via geometric designs, visitors can become invisible to CCTV facial recognition software.
2) Workshops: A family 3D printing workshop will be led by Golan Levin, who will guide participants in the use of free 3D modelling applications. The BBC Connected Studio hosts a session to encourage digital agencies, technology start-ups, individual designers and developers to submit ideas for future features and formats.
3) The world premiere of Projectors by composer, performance artist and videographer, Martin Messier takes place at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). It sees him make music, or at least sound patterns, from alarm clocks, pens, a sewing machine and other machines that he has dreamt up.
4) Manchester Chamber Choir and The Joyful Company of Singers will perform sections of Jem Finer's Longplayer at the RNCM. The composer's music for a thousand years began at midnight on 31st December 1999 and will play, without repetition, until 2999, when it will begin again.
5) The festival's two-day international conference takes place at Manchester's Town Hall over two days. Speakers include designers and academics, amongst others. They will join with international delegates in exploring the theme of Tools for Unknown futures. Key debates will include social change, hacking and the role of government in an increasingly technological world.
Drew Hemment says: "The festival will debate our fascination with tools as the most natural path towards social change, and open up new ways to question, imagine and make the strange, troubled thing called the future."
FutureEverything was founded in 1995. It is a mixture of free events and ones for which tickets must be bought. More details at the festival's website.