A Day in the Life of… A Digital Participation Curator

11 July 2016

Our Digital Participation Curator John Whall talks us through a typical few days at QUAD...

"My role is creatively engaging people with the arts and contemporary culture through digital media and this can take on a variety of forms from one day to the next. Thankfully it’s not all emails and paperwork. On Friday we had a fantastic launch event for our current exhibition Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf, where I demonstrated the fantastic Wonderputt Golf by Damp Gnat and shared our Participation Space with our first Digital Participation Artist in Residence Ashley James Brown. Ashley was providing a live demo of his project Smile Back Derby, which uses facial recognition to provide smiles to people off and online. 

On Monday I had the great pleasure of speaking to the team over at Arts Marketing Association (AMA) to put together an article for their Culture Hive website on our most recent mass participation project Shine A Light, which engaged with local groups of over 60’s and professional directors to make short films about their interests. It was great to still be talking about the processes and positives that project brought, but also to be working on putting together the DVD, which I’m having to learn new software to get the most out of the fantastic films made and to share them with the directors and participants. 

A lot of my role does include some form of learning. For last year’s FORMAT International Photography Festival I worked on the mixed-reality game Detect. This was a completely new area for me, having developed skills in computer game modelling and animation, I hadn’t previously worked on a full game, let alone one that existed digitally and in the real world. I’m currently researching innovations and techniques in utilising VR for photography projects for next year’s festival. Yes, that does mean sitting at my desk and delving into another reality using a cardboard VR device, which can have both odd and fascinated reactions from colleagues. 

This led nicely into Tuesday as I work on writing a draft live brief for BA Computer Game Modelling and Animation students at the University of Derby to create digital interpretations of the FORMAT Festival's next theme ‘Habitat’. It’s always exciting to work with students who are surrounded by current developments in the games industry and have the ability to push our thinking, as well as their own practice. This did become a day of planning and I got a chance to sit down with our Artist Training Officer Debbie Cooper to plan our Digital Play and Share event in a couple of weeks, where artists and aspiring artists can find out what Ashley got up to on his residency, play with some fantastic digital tools and find out more about training opportunities here at QUAD. 

Well, it’s Wednesday and after catching up on some emails, arranging more meet ups to plan our Hack and Build event, looking at funding opportunities for our Arts for Health programme and publishing some social media updates, it’s time to set up for MinecraftCLUB.

Thanks for taking the time to find out what I do and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to find out more or even have an idea of how we can work together."

- John

Email: johnw@derbyquad.co.uk
Phone: 01332285425
Twitter: @John_Whall