The participants in the Year 2 interviews and the Art Think Tank event provided some strong and compelling future visions and desires for emerging technologies in the Art sector which are described and analysed here.
Bespoke Tech Development
The creative industries were considered to rely too heavily on “off-the-shelf” technology solutions: therefore it would be desirable for more bespoke digital technologies and tools to be created. This was combined with a desire for a shift from a producer/consumer model of tech development towards a more iterative and dialogic approach where creators, curators and conservators are working directly with developers to create new technologies and solutions specific to Creative Industries' needs. Such systems and solutions would need to be lightweight, adaptable and flexible – often the systems used in cultural institutions are considered too cumbersome at present. Creating simple-to-use 3D modelling and manipulation software for curators and artists was suggested as an example of the new kinds of tools required.
There was a strong desire for better tools and systems for archiving, robust and future-proof file formats, and better methods for creating and working with metadata. This was matched by a desire for platforms that could enable deep curation and retrieval of public service media – going beyond the limited capabilities of existing search engines to allow audiences, artists and curators to access multi-layered digital content in richer ways. The use of semantic web technologies was seen as a key component for achieving this.
To achieve these kinds of new systems and tools, it would be important to embed user centred design principles at the deepest levels of collaborative tech development – modelling and anticipating emerging user needs in advance.
Infrastructure for Cultural Industries
Massive investment in and improvement of the digital infrastructure of cultural institutions (museums, galleries, libraries, archives etc) was considered crucial. Such institutions need to address growing needs for data storage (both on- and off-site solutions, such as Cloud storage). They would also need to address their internal networking technologies (fibre optics; high speed wireless etc) as well as their connections to public communications networks (for faster bandwidth).
Scanning technologies for data acquisition about cultural artefacts in collections were considered to be highly important: combining 3D scanning with multispectral colour measurement and materials analysis.
Display technologies were another key area: making use of super hi res displays (4K+); holographics; Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality displays (fixed and portable). 3D printing technologies will become increasingly important for presenting and engaging people with cultural artefacts – but print resolution must improve and a wider range of materials be available for reproducing cultural artefacts with very high surface accuracy. Mobile/portable 3D fabrication (e.g. multi-axis robotic 3d printers) was also seen as desirable.
Much of these above technologies will rely on faster processing cores (CPU + Graphics), for instance to render structured data files in real time for both artists, the public and curators to work with, in much the same way as “flat files” are currently worked with.
New management software tools for non-programmers (curators, librarians, artists etc) are needed to manipulate and use rich, multilayered structured data files (i.e. ones which include 3D scans, colour measurements, material descriptions and other metadata) as they become standard and replace flat files (2D images, text files etc).
Interaction technologies were also seen as a major area for development: such as sensors supporting gestural interfaces (for individuals and groups of people), especially in museum and gallery settings.
Intellectual Property, Security & Data Protection
An important need was expressed for technologies that can automatically detect copyright violations and alert copyright owners; prevent data piracy and secure data from hacking and theft. Blockchain/bitcoin technologies were referred to a possible routes for this.
The development of digital platforms that support self-learning and education for people were seen as highly desirable. For instance, setting up “FabLabs” (open access workshops with digital fabrication technologies) in urban centres for more people to engage in prototyping social change was considered a dynamic way to engage and empower different age groups (other than existing demographics) to participate in urban decision making. It was also considered important to use new platforms to enhance awareness of sustainability issues and the circular economy.
Distribution & Monetisation
Better ecosystems for distributing and monetising digital content and cultural media are very highly desired. However, this needs a whole value chain to be built, not just technologies. It was seen as important to move beyond the current model of commercially dominant vertically integrated systems (Apple, Google, Microsoft etc) to allow for properly competitive markets to flourish and welcome new entrants.
Better interpretative tools for people to experiment and experience cultural outputs were desired, such as creative digital sandpits for experimenting in 3D modelling and output via digital fabrication. Incorporating multi-sensory interfaces (gesture, eye and motion tracking, direct neural-to-computer interfaces etc) into everyday interactions with digital systems. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality experiences that extend out into the real world were also thought to be highly desirable.
Key Future Trajectories
The following is a distillation of the desired future technologies across data collected during the whole project. The visions indicate five clear directions for technological development for ICT and art collaboration, centred on tools for creative production; exhibition and distribution; interaction; archiving; and rights.
Technologies of Creative Production
– Gestural interfaces for controlling technologies of production
– 3D Fablab solutions tech for artists, curators and the public (robotic manufacturing, incorporating 3D printing, CNC milling, laser cutting, electronics etc)
– Access to bio and nano technologies for artists working at the intersection of art and science
Exhibition & Distribution
– “breaking the artistic 4th wall” new forms of visualisation technology for immersive and augmented reality experiences that bring the viewer into the artwork and which bridge the digital/physical divide
– new independent distribution channels for marketing and monetising digital media
- new display technologies and 3D output of cultural artefacts
– Multi-sensory engagement technologies affecting smell, touch, taste
– Biometric feedback and interfaces including emotional as well as physiological state (via wearables and sensors).
Archiving & Digital Preservation
– multispectral colour & materials analysis combined with 3D scanning
– improved infrastructures (cloud storage, networking, communications)
– automatic file migration to ensure long term access
– software for manipulating complex and large structured data files
Intellectual Property & Copyright Protection
- embedded copyright and IPR in digital media
- Smart IP metadata reporting on IPR piracy/violation
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