Arts and the City: Dialogues of Urbanity Keynote Address for the Innovate Heritage Conference by Monica Rut

This talk is concerned with the arts spawned by the electronic revolution in communications technologies at the end of the 20th century with the advent of the smartphone and how this revolution has allowed artists to harness the virtual to create artworks that overstep the boundaries of exhibition space (galleries, museums, etc.) and expand into the domains of the unbound urbanity, where they flourish in the heart of the city and fulfill the interests of a tech-smart twenty-first century audience, who yearn  for the new and unique of virtual arts but also seek to sensitise themselves to the cultural heritage of the city.


Unlike the arts of previous centuries, the virtual arts of today are able to be forthright present and all pervading because of the use of mediated technologies that allow for a dialog between what is present in reality and what is laid virtually over it. Artists creating artwork using Augmented Reality techniques, for example, have been able to present a variety of contemporary themes directly to the public through immersive experiences which join knowledge sharing with aesthetic experience in uniquely effective ways by simply designing the works to be experiential and site specific.

Virtual arts appear at a time in which many cities are joining campaigns on sustainability, in order to contribute in on reducing the carbon print, regulate and reduce waste, deal with an every growing populace of inhabitants, as well as the tightening of budgets for culture along with the need to marketing cities as culturally enriching both historically and as contemporary points of culture.

Technologies today have helped change all of the above towards of more positive outcome and have also helped cities communicate and market their offerings. In terms of arts, mediated arts in general have brought changes to the general schema of event managements and their logistics. For the Virtuale Festival which presents projects in Digital Heritage, Urban Gaming, and especially Augmented Reality artworks.   These formats require no transport, insurance, or physical installation, which greatly reduces the carbon print as well as circumventing restrictive laws when working in historical districts.

The art and science fusion is well known and has been practiced for over a decade with great success in museum spaces. With the same level of intensity and appeal, Virtual arts has been able to fuse with tourism to create new and unique ways of presenting arts and portraying cities. This has lead to unique collaborations between city managements and artists, which has resulted in the flourishing of a form of urban arts that embraces past histories of the spaces they are presented in as well as making creative use of innovative technologies.

This talk will present on the one hand the need for a culture of sustainability and how it can be nurtured by the arts when properly integrated into the marketing campaigns of a city, and on the other hand it will offer insight into the practices and techniques of virtual arts in urban spaces and how these are offering new ways for the public to experience and transverse a city.





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