One day, 19 speakers, 200 delegates and a whole host of big ideas – our In Progress 2011 conference was a real success. Held last Friday at The Barbican, it was our chance to look back on 2011 and the themes and projects which defined it, and look forward to how these might shape our industry going forward. We said at the end of the day our aim had been to provoke conversation and debate and thanks to our eclectic roster of speakers we feel we did just that.
The highlights were many and varied and chatting to delegates afterwards it seems that everyone had their favourite. We were honoured that Sir John Sorrell opened the event with the keynote talk, a state-of-the-design nation which set the tone for a very strong first session.
He was followed by Google’s Tom Uglow who presented a set of his beliefs about the future of the creative industries, after which Mills from ustwo talked about the creative success (and commercial failure – his words) of this year’s big apps.
For many people, Channel 4 news international editor Lindsey Hilsum was the stand-out talk of the day, and her analysis of social media in the Arab Spring was focussed, inspirational and nuanced, with some lovely light touches to alleviate the serious subject matter.
A series of short, sharp forecasting talks rounded off the morning – Moira Sinclair from the Arts Council presented some of the exciting London 2012 projects currently in the pipeline, Andrea Francke of The Piracy Project gave a a witty snapshot of her group’s literary mischief and Bookkake’s James Bridle gave an electrifying talk on the changing relationship between on- and offline publishing.
The afternoon session flew out of the blocks thanks to a brilliant and engaging talk by Matt Jones of Berg who questioned why we are so desperate to humanise artificial intelligence.
There was then a double dose of insight into where advertising lies in an ever-changing media landscape, with talks by Wieden + Kennedy’s Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth and Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kate Stanners.
They were followed by Katrina Dodd of Contagious who whisked us through a series of commercial digital developments (including the intriguing Aunt Mildred button set to be introduced by Amazon allowing us to exchange presents before we even get them) and Emer Coleman of the Greater London Authority who gave us a fabulously pithy insight into digital projects in the public sector.
Paul Pieroni of SPACE brought that session to a close with a tremendously enthusiastic presentation of some complex ideas around post-internet art.
Hyper Island UK founder David McCall and two of his students – Jon Barnes and Holly Langford – kicked off the final session with an interactive look at what Hyper’s new educational model entails, before Shane Walter gave a tub-thumpingly passionate plea for digital culture to be given the credit it deserves, also revealing that at this stage the future of the onedotzero festival looks bleak unless commercial backers can be found.
And finally Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern, spoke to It’s Nice That magazine editor Alex Moshakis about the changing role of museums, the challenges facing his own institution and Tate’s new space set to launch in the spring.
All in all it was a fascinating day and we were thrilled the biggest event we have ever organised went so well and offered us so much food for thought. Judging by the feedback we have been getting, the countdown to In Progress 2012 has already begun.
Thanks must go to all those who helped make the day such a success, including our sponsor PurePrint and supporters Hato Press and ArtWords, the team at The Barbican, our speakers and of course everyone who came along.