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Arts and Literature
The future is now
The music and arts festival Futuresonic is twelve years old this year and still as vibrant as ever, according to festival director Drew Hemment. He and his team are once again preparing to put on another smorgasbord of digital creativity and culture.
Surprisingly, even after a decade of hard work and great art, there are still those in Manchester that have a problem getting their head round the festival, but Drew says it is very straightforward.
"It is a festival that takes over the city, creating energy in unusual spaces. There is a mix of art, music and ideas, and we do a lot of playful projects involving new technologies."
The Last Gallery lets people stage their own show
Of course, this being Manchester, Drew accepts that most people do hone in on the musical side of things, but he’s sure that the other aspects of Futuresonic aren’t missing out as a result.
"Manchester is a city that lives, eats and breaths music. We love the city for that reason. So it is not surprising that the music strand of the festival is often the most visible, especially as we place so much effort on bringing the best and most exciting artists from around the world.
"This year, the Art and Conference strands of the festival have been getting just as much attention. The Art is very accessible this year, and will be lots of fun.
Aram Bartholl will be creating a book of friends
"Everyone can find what they want in the festival, and we don’t label people into 'music' or 'art' audiences."
Alongside its ever-present message of pushing technology and creativity, Futuresonic has a theme each year and this time round, it is social networking, a subject that is at the forefront of everything digital at the moment, though Drew says the idea came from close to home.
"This is the first year that the kind of stuff we are into - such as social networking - is splashed all over the front pages of daily newspapers. This is an exciting opportunity for us to do things that everyone can understand and enjoy.
"Some friends of ours came up with one of the very first social networking sites, called FOAF or Friend-of-a-Friend, so we have been watching it bubble away and recently explode.
"It is just the kind of thing we love, and so it has been cool to base the whole festival on social networking in 2008."
In fact, it is because of technology becoming so prevalent and accessible that Drew is so sure that, even after 12 years, the festival is still as vital as ever.
"The world has moved closer to us, as digital technology feeds into all of our everyday lives. This means we can do more things, with more people, at a bigger scale."
'Osama bin Laden's photo collection'
That bigger scale takes in around 100 events this year and that’s a mind-boggling amount of stuff to do over one May weekend. Drew’s steadfast in his belief that there is something for everyone and that it’s all worth a look, but when pushed, he does acknowledge that there are some stand-out, unmissable moments in the offing.
The RZA performs as Bobby Digital
"I would recommend RZA on Thursday night and catch his talk before if you can. MySpace-OurSpace-YourSpace is going to be super cool: an empty shop window converted into an 'unplugged' alternative to MySpace offers festival visitors the ability to create their own space. And The Futuresonic Social outside Contact on Oxford Road is the only free outdoor music event all summer!
"Across the festival, we have over 300 artists. Other highlights in the art strand include discovering Second Life avatars walking down the street, a mass outbreak of backrubs between friends, the city's commuters frozen on the spot, a big dinner party in a main city square, Osama bin Laden's Flickr photo collection, finding the free spaces in the city, and going to an event where the music is selected from the audience's preferences online!"
Real life computer characters, food fun, frozen commuters and a member of the Wu Tang Clan - there’s no denying it, Drew’s got a point; Futuresonic really does have something for everyone.
Futuresonic runs across Manchester from Thursday 1 to Monday 5 May. For more details, check the festival website.
last updated: 24/04/2008 at 15:33