The Big Idea

April – September 2010

Online Digital Residency (The Big Idea and Colab Partnership)


Colab’s partnership with The Big Idea is  an example of a successful collaboration with an industry partner to initiate and support the development of an innovative online artists residency.

Background:
In a first for New Zealand, the Colab/The Big Idea Online Digital Residency is part of the Colab development strategy to support innovation, the creation of new digital art work, and collaboration.  Elisabeth Vaneveld, Executive Director of The Big Idea Charitable Trust that runs The Big Idea website wanted to create the opportunity for new projects or innovations for artists working in the new digital art sphere.

Key objectives of the online residency were to support the development of innovative projects which encourage engagement, capability and confidence with new technologies, and to engage The Big Idea community in the process and output of digital arts collaboration. Kiwi artist Luke Munn, based in Berlin, was successful in his application and created a technologically slick, interactive audio work using sounds collected from the work spaces of his expanding network around the world. By combining resources and knowledge, both parties got good value for their investment. Elisabeth says:

“I would definitely recommend doing partnerships. I think it’s the only way, in a small economy like New Zealand’s, that projects that are particularly innovative are able to be undertaken.”

The Big Idea is a creative sector website and online space where creativity, innovation and enterprise connect across sectors, disciplines and communities. In a first for New Zealand, the CoLab/The Big Idea Online Digital Residency is part of the Colab development strategy to support innovation and build capability through collaboration. The Big Idea had reached a point of maturity and there was now space to push the boundaries a little, and introduce the idea of a virtual artist in residence. Elisabeth says:

“I was very interested to explore the idea of digital art in an unusual place like The Big Idea community – a virtual community. I was very interested to see what would happen if and when a digital artist had the opportunity to work in that setting. And I also wanted the community itself, people who are supportive of The Big Idea as an infrastructure initiative, to understand that it wasn’t just about getting information out there, it is a space that has many dimensions and much potential.”

The Project:
Key objectives of the online residency were to support the development of innovative projects which encourage engagement, capability and confidence with new technologies, and to engage The Big Idea community in the process and output of digital arts collaboration. The two month long residency was available to New Zealand and Australian residents working in any discipline and/or medium. Elisabeth says:

“With the help of Colab we had done some research on ground-breaking digital projects that had a strong arts focus, although we didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what the project would be.”

Kiwi artist Luke Munn, based in Berlin, was successful in his application and created an interactive audio work using sounds collected from the work spaces of his expanding network around the world. Luke took the opportunity seriously yet playfully, and with a great deal of care. His approach made it possible for others in the online community who were keen to be involved to contribute. An unexpected but welcome outcome of the project was that it made a comment about isolation, but also worked against that isolation through collaboration; contributors felt they were part of a greater whole.

Benefits to The Big Idea:
For The Big Idea community it cemented the idea that the online portal is more than an informational exchange, it is a living community with many dimensions. People use The Big Idea as a tool, but it is also a living environment and a soft infrastructure that that makes a difference to the way people work in and experience the creative sector. Therefore, there is plenty of scope to offer a variety of unique initiatives in such a strong online space. Elisabeth says:

“The Big Idea’s success is due, in part, to the partnership principle at work. Partnering with Colab was a win-win, because they already have an established artist in residence programme, and between us we could find the resources required.”

Usually, the artist in Colab’s residency programme would be in Auckland for the period of the project. In this case however, Colab was open to possibility that the artist might not actually be residing in New Zealand. The Online Digital Residency reflected the innovative edge that Colab strives for.

Colab staff  along with staff from The Big Idea, were involved in coordination and administration of the project. By combining resources and knowledge, both parties got good outcomes for their investment.

www.thebigidea.co.nz

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