Arts Ahead 2022 symposium reimagines the future of art

Artists and organizers were happy with the way the event unfolded.

This screencap is from the digital work, "Skinwalker," created by artist Shonee, who participated in the Arts Ahead 2022 symposium on Feb. 16 and 17. (Courtesy Shonee) 

Incorporating technology is at the forefront of artistic innovation, and more women should be a part of that change, according to one artist.

Shonee, a digital-media artist, was a speaker at Arts Ahead 2022, a symposium held by postgraduate students in Centennial College’s Arts Management program.

Centennial College’s Journalism program publishes The Toronto Observer.

“Obviously, I realized I could do it, but it felt like such a man’s game,” Shonee said on her reluctance to try out emerging technology.

“I hope from my talk that any women who are interested in AR/VR/3D will take the leap and realize that anyone can do it.”

Shonee was attracted to the event because of the opportunity to discuss what she feels is an important topic.

“Some people just see these spaces as places to have fun, game, or be social,” she explained.

“But there are a lot of political actions that can take place in these spaces.”

Reinvigorating the arts in a pandemic

This year’s theme for the two-day event, which took place Feb 16 and 17, was “Reawakenings: Art as a Catalyst.”

Micah Bucholtzwho is on the marketing team for Arts Ahead, said the theme results from the idea of emerging from the pandemic.

“One of our classmates brought up the idea of reinvigorating the arts after a period of stasis and disruption,” she explained.

The annual event was held virtually this year due to the pandemic, which came with many challenges to overcome.

“At its core, Arts Ahead is a networking event,” said Bucholtz.

“That’s something we really wish we could have done in person, and unfortunately, it wasn’t possible.”

Despite this, Arts Ahead decided to make the most of a difficult situation and take advantage of it being all digital.

“For example, we had a few people attend from the Philippines,” said Bucholtz. 

“As Arts Ahead was fully digital, our team felt confident extending invitations to those who would not normally be able to make it.”

Artists and students get the chance to learn

The symposium featured panels and workshops led by various guest speakers.

Topics included “Art Uprising: Creative Dissent in the 21st Century” and “Technological Trends: Artistic Freedom in a Digital Space.”

The latter panel was described as a chance for artists to “share their experiences working with digital technologies and its benefits and consequences.”

As many of the symposium’s attendees were students, the event presented speakers with an opportunity to pass on their knowledge.

This opportunity to inspire was a highlight for Arthur Yeung, a producer specializing in immersive, mobile, and game experiences.

“One of my goals, in general, is to encourage anyone to pursue cool and interesting projects,” he said.

During the talk, Yeung talked about projects he is involved with, such as his work with Albedo Informatics, developers of an augmented reality mobile game.

The panel also gave artists the chance to discuss how the changing world of tech affects art, including the controversial topic of NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

“It’s an exciting time in the early days of discovering this particular new technology and crypto and blockchain in general,” said Yeung.

The symposium also provided speakers the opportunity to learn from each other.

Shonee said the words of Aljumaine Gayle particularly inspired her. Arts Ahead billed Gayle as “a queer artist and creative technologist working at the intersections of tech, art, design, and data justice.”

“He’s always very sentimental and compassionate about making art in a way that’s contagious,” Shonee said.

“In his workshop, he spoke about the process of failing and taking time and working on multiple projects. For me, that was inspiring.” 

Now that the event is over, Bucholtz said she is enthusiastic about how it turned out. 

“I’m very proud of my class,” she said.

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Posted: Feb 19 2022 9:00 am
Filed under: Arts & Life Education News