Fine Art Degree Students To Learn Code In New Partnership With FACT

FINE Art students at Liverpool Hope University are to be trained in coding as part of a new three-year partnership with FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). While also embarking on a traditional Fine Art curriculum, the first year students will visit FACT in January 2016 for sessions on Open Source tools including software and hardware such as Raspberry Pi. The aim of the new partnership is to equip students for the growing area of digital art, and inspire them to explore creative and unusual uses for technology in their work. One Liverpool Hope Fine Art graduate who has already started to explore these connections is Ant Hamlyn, who was awarded the first Liverpool Hope and FACT joint production residency in 2015. Ant’s artwork, The Boost Project, is being exhibited as part of FACT’s major new exhibition Follow, which also includes work from art collective LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner, which is made up of Luke Turner, Nastja Säde Rönkkö, and Shia LaBeouf. The Boost Project involves a floating sculpture that inflates in real time in response to social media interactions with the piece, and he has worked with specialists at FACTLab to develop his work. Ant joined Director of FACT Professor Mike Stubbs, and Liverpool Hope University Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerald Pillay for the signing of the partnership agreement this week. Ant said of his experience, “It’s all gone so fast, it feels like a bit of a whirlwind since my degree show, where I was selected to work with FACT. It’s been extremely exciting, yet very challenging developing a work of such scale. With so many complicated elements, I’ve had to learn on the job and concisely plan everything from the prototype stages to the Installation. Having the support from the fantastic team at FACT and Liverpool Hope has allowed me to be very ambitious with the build!”
The Boost Project
The Boost Project
Alongside the production residency and Open Source training, the partnership between Liverpool Hope and FACT includes a series of master classes by leading international artists, who will visit the students’ studios and converse with them about their practice. David Blandy and Larry Achiampong are among the first artists to take part.    Professor Mike Stubbs said: “Responding to, and driving agendas of the creative and critical use of technology is part of FACT’s ethos; it is no longer just about media or digital art, but about how technology is part of a wider physical and social whole. Society is increasingly influenced by the relationships with and within the digital. The Boost project by Ant Hamlyn, for Follow, reflects the relationship between the digital and the real in a playful and tangible way, perfectly illustrating the kind of outcomes we’re hoping for, from our collaboration with Hope University through artists’ research.” Professor Gerald Pillay said: “Working in partnership with FACT has already opened up some exciting possibilities for our students, and Ant’s artwork is a fine example of what can be achieved. This is just the start, and we look forward to seeing the results of a longer term relationship.” Ana Botella, Programme Producer at FACT added: “Artists are amazing at expressing their times, and producing meaning out of them. And, in our hyper-technological age, it is almost impossible to talk about anything without running into technology. For artists, and for all of us, digital has affected how they conduct research, how they produce work, and also how they distribute it and engage with their publics. Digital skills open up so many possibilities! Moving between digital platforms is the same as choosing between a pencil or a paintbrush, and good digital skills can see artists gaining commissions or working with people on the other side of the world without having to leave their studio. Yet it is important to remember that an artwork is strong when the idea and the medium seamlessly come together. Our collaboration with Liverpool Hope really tries to give equal importance to the whole creative process, the conceptual and the technical. It’s about what you have to say, as well as how you say it.” Lin Holland, Fine Art Course Leader at Liverpool Hope University said: “Digital literacy forms a significant part of contemporary life, whether sending a tweet, creating a 3D printed object or communicating on a global platform. We aim to provide Liverpool Hope students with relevant digital skills as a means of creative exploration and a way to critically engage more widely with culture, posing questions in the same way they would using any other medium.”