Random Art Festival of the Day: Push Arts

Today Amy and I went to this odd art festival that was happening in South Lake Union (i.e., by my work), called Push Arts. We didn’t quite know what to expect, so whatever we saw was… interesting. It was all about “new media”, with most installations around light and projection. It wasn’t a very large festival, but spread out in three different venues that were about 5-ish blocks apart, which made it quite interesting to walk around.

I think the most interesting part of the festival for me (and Amy probably disagrees with that) was a panel that opened the festival about “Innovation in the Arts”. There were 4 speakers: a person from OnTheBoards and OnTheBoards.tv, which is an independent venue for performing arts that has been trying for almost 3 years now to generate an online experience for watching art performances (dance & theater); a person that builds the technology behind the Seattle Opera concerts; a person that works at Nordstrom Innovation Lab, which is a group that helps Nordstrom with innovative solutions through Design Thinking and agile development; and a professor from the University of Washington that is trying to teach humanities through video games.

As you can see, it was quite a weird mix of people trying to talk about innovation in arts and there were quite a few examples on different areas. The problem is that some people took a little too long on their presentations (especially the Seattle Opera guy) and ended up not having almost any time for the actual panel. The main thing that I learned from it, I guess, is that selling performing arts online is not a dead proposition, but doesn’t really attract a lot of people and money. We are talking here about thousands of people total in 3 years. But it’s not something to be discarded.

An interesting thing that came out  was the UW professor talking about the fact that he has a hard time getting people to realize how much harder it is to prepare a course on gaming. Unlike courses based on books, courses based on games, especially MMOs, pretty much need to be planned and rebuilt almost every time they are taught, because they handle a topic that it constantly changing. Just like people that work in the game industry, people from outside think it’s all “playing games, so it must be easy and fun” and when you look inside, it can still be fun, but it’s not really any close to “easy”. So he is always misunderstood.

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