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The Cost of Innovation

The Cost of Innovation

The Cost of Innovation is a three year project that investigates models and tools for innovation in the creative sector, exploring how true technical innovation can be supported while focussing on access and ecological action. 

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed – William Gibson

The Cost of Innovation is a three year project, supported by an Arts Council England Small Capital Grant, investigating models and tools for innovation in our sector through residencies, workshops and partnerships. As well as exploring how true technical innovation can be supported and pushed we are looking to understand more deeply the impact and invisible costs of innovation and the pressures of it both for artists and the environment more generally.

Cutting edge technical equipment remains extremely costly and at arms-length for the majority of artists. Project budgets leave little room for experimentation, iteration or innovation with tools, beyond their *off the shelf use. There is a serious socio-economic barrier to innovation in the cost of new technologies that particularly restricts artists at early stages of their career and means that new methods and models of storytelling lie in the hands of a select few.

Removing the risky cost of “is this the right tech for my project” means experimentation can be undertaken without the majority of a budget disappearing or the more common reality of the technical R&D period not being possible at all.

The project crucially interrogates the environmental cost of operating at the edge of technical innovation. Artists are best equipped to lead a discussion on how the “stuff” of technology has one of the highest impacts of all industries.

When we talk of digital innovations we cannot do so without also talking of environmental sustainability. As our societies and economies are increasingly driven by technology, we need to explore how as a sector we have a voice within a digital ecosystem without unnecessarily adding to the destruction of the planet’s natural resources, this seems like an impossible task, but it is essential we find solutions.

This project will develop modular systems of technologies that can be used across multiple platforms, reducing e-waste, maximising equipment’s life cycle and use, while working closely with ethical suppliers; prioritising quality over durability and cost.

As the sector becomes more digitally literate, issues of access to technology need to be addressed to actively prevent a culture where only the narratives of those that can afford it are heard. Removing financial barriers is essential to escalate this culture shift to create greater equality and diversity in technology driven art.

Our approach to using these digital assets will be about collaboration, and bringing together a pool of partners and artists to use and iterate with the tools, the lessons of one practitioner influencing and becoming tools for another. Together we will strive to reach a wide cross section of artists operating in this space working together as industry leaders in the development of creative technology practices.

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