The London Sinfonietta is partnering with arts development agency the hub to produce Make, Do and Bend, a project bringing together musicians, composers and creative technologists to explore how digital technology can open up new forms of interaction with audiences. One of our partners for the project, Sound and Music, introduce us to their world:
Who are you and what do you do?
Kealy Cozens: I’m a Creative Project Leader focusing on data at Sound and Music which means that I get to work of projects that have data elements and get to play with data that we have internally. I run our regular event series Creative Data Club, Audience Labs and an artist residency with the ODI and Alex McLean. I’m currently on the verge of leading our brand spanking new Creative Data programme which brings all the data-y things we do together.
Richard Whitelaw: I’m Director of Programmes at Sound and Music. When things are going well I help people to get things done. I get to spend quite a lot of time working with other people and that is one of the many things I enjoy about my job. In the past I’ve made artistic stuff (don’t anymore), done curatorial stuff (don’t anymore), produced lots of events (don’t anymore). Don’t be sad: I enjoy music a lot more now I don’t make it, ideas a lot more now I don’t curate them and events a lot more now I don’t produce them.
Why are you excited about attending Make, Do and Bend?
KC: As a Creative Project Leader at Sound and Music I love working on projects that blend digital, data, people and ideas. My plan for the day is to absorb the genius in the room much like a porous sea sponge and then use that in my own work. I’ve personally trialled a lot of creative techniques from human centred design sessions to all things and anything including post it notes so I’m really interested to see how the ideas are formed and shaped. I hope that my blended experience can be of some help to the participants and I’m an excellent listener.
RW: I know some of the people that are coming to this already and they are very interesting and a pleasure to spend time with. The people I don’t know look very interesting as well and I’m looking forward to meeting them all. I have absolutely no idea of how all these people are going to work together and this courting of failure is very exciting to me. I’d like to see more of it.
Tell us about an interesting digital or interaction project you’ve seen recently?
KC: Our latest round of Audience Labs has just ended which has seen five projects look at how they interact with and engage audiences. One of the projects on the programme was Open Symphony which invites the audiences to become part of the performance by using their mobile phones to collaborate with the performers. Further back I’m still totally in love with Amon Tobin’s ISAM. As a person with limited mobility I’m really interested to see how the live experience will be transformed with digital. Although it’s been around as a concept for a while, virtual reality is reaching peak hype in 2016 so I’ll be watching to see how that manifests within the music sector.
RW: Digital technology recently allowed Sound and Music to collect, share and act to address some really alarming data about the lack of diversity of applicants to our opportunities. This has been interesting in many ways. Upon the publishing of the data and our programme response we had a lot of support on social media from individual artists (particularly from the emerging generation). Apart from partner organisations (including Drake Music, Heart n Soul, University of East London and Community Music) who had worked with us to devise Pathways (our programme to draw a wider range of artists to work with us) there was a strange lack of comment. Disability focused organisation like Paraorchestra and Shape picked it up pretty quickly but from ‘mainstream’ funded arts organisations there was a stony silence. This was odd because the blog that I wrote about Pathways and its genesis was the most widely read post in the history of Sound and Music.
This reticence may be linked to the fact that we shared our bad diversity data very publicly. I suspect that other organisations in our corner of the arts have equally bad diversity data, but are not quite ready to sign up for the bad diversity data nudist colony yet, let alone get their rocks off and jump in. We shared ours and the world didn’t end. It felt very good in fact.