Digital Participation Expedition – Where the Power Lies

The second Digital Participation Expedition event curated by the East Midlands Participatory Arts Forum (EMPAF) took place at the Level Centre in Rowsley this month. The event brought people together to question where the power lies when people participate and play with digital art.

Attendees were able to become performers as they took part in interactive art projects developed by the Level Centre for their beneficiaries with complex needs and multiple disabilities: Instrument uses an optical camera to detect a participant’s movements and create a live musical and visual performance, built on a programme of chosen musical instruments and visual effects. We also took part in Breathe, an improvised performance that uses live sound processing and audiences’ voices to create a sensory soundscape. Whilst accessible, playful and multi-sensory, we discussed the element of choice over what is seen and heard when we participate with technology that is already programmed.

We also got to experience an example of neuro cinema – or brain controlled cinema: The Moment, written, produced and directed by Richard Ramchurn and screened in an intimate mobile caravan. The Moment is a dystopian sci-fi film that uses a Neurosky headset (brain-computer interface technology) placed on a spectator to detect brain data (Electroencephalogram signals) to determine the sound-mix and narrative combination of the film. With over 18 billion different narrative combinations, each screening is unique for the spectators. The film explores a more passive interaction between participant and digital technology and results in the participant trying to gain control over the movie through blinking and practicing ‘awareness’.

Look out for the news of the next digital expedition hosted by City Arts in Nottingham.