Digital Arts Innovation Laboratory (DAILab)

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Inst for the Contemporary Arts


Digital technology is routinely used in the arts, but modern trends see innovative kinds of artworks which blur traditional boundaries--between art forms, and between artists and audiences--and lead to art which is immersive, interactive, and simultaneously private and shared. These trends require access to computing facilities beyond those normally available to artists and arts researchers. Science departments in universities have for a long time had high-performance computing facilities and associated specialised equipment. In this project we propose to set up a facility with an equivalent role for artists and arts researchers. Recent experience demonstrates that innovative arts projects often push at the boundaries of the capabilities of available computing equipment.

The Digital Arts Innovation Laboratory (DAILab) will lift that constraint so that artists and researchers will be able to explore the artistic potential of the latest technologies. Examples of possible projects include
* creation of continuous variations of a piece of music in response to a dancer's movements,
* theatre pieces involving high-definition projection of images captured on stage and processed in real-time to recognise the actors' features and project an altered image in response,
* artworks which draw in material from the environment, the internet and responses from a large audience to modify their appearance accordingly.

The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA) is a leading centre for research and innovation in Art, Design, Music and Theatre Studies. A new building is currently under construction which will house DAILab. LICA has a strong track record of high-quality research involving digital technologies, and strong links for artistic dissemination. The Nuffield Theatre, for example, is a well-known centre for innovation in Theatre which has seen the origination of many cutting-edge shows which have gone on to play throughout the UK and beyond. LICA is also associated with FutureEverything (formerly FutureSonic) an annual festival and conference centred on Manchester which has attracted world-wide attention for its innovations. All this has been achieved with computing facilities acquired on an ad-hoc basis. The proposed project will put this proven tradition of digital arts innovation onto a firm footing.

Planned Impact

Work conducted in DAILab will benefit the general public through the artworks created there, and also indirectly through artworks created elsewhere which draw on work done in DAILab. There will also be a benefit for arts practitioners who come to work in DAILab as visiting artists, and indirectly through drawing on the novel artistic possibilities arising from research conducted in DAILab. A broad range of disciplines will be affected: performance, fine arts, video arts, digital film, music, site-specific art and intermedia works.

The Public Arts at Lancaster University (Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster International Concerts, Peter Scott Gallery) will form a ready conduit for impact to wider audiences. There is a strong track record of workshops, fostering emerging artists, outreach programmes to schools, etc. Such activities and the support of the Public Arts administrators provide an existing framework through which work originating in DAILab can be disseminated to have an impact with a wider audience of practitioners and the public.

Two other institutions associated with LICA provide channels of impact to commercial and policy-making bodies. The design research centre Imagination@Lancaster works with government bodies and other agencies to engage directly in the creation and testing of public policy. The new Digital Economy Innovation Centre will have close links with commercial enterprises. Doctoral students of the Centre will all have a placement in industry as part of their studies, providing a mechanism for two-way exchange of ideas and information between LICA, and therefore DAILab, and enterprises in the digital economy.

To ensure that work undertaken in DAILab has maximum impact, those applying to work in the facility will be asked to include an explicit impact plan in their proposed projects. These plans will be assessed by the DAILab management committee when taking decisions on the use of the facility. On completion of a project, a report will be required describing the project's impact and activities carried out to enhance impact.


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Title Stunde Null 
Description This mid-scale multimedia performance work focuses on the experience of Berlin at the end of World War Two to explore the evolution of Europe and the mythologies of European identity. The performance is structured through layering six different versions of post war Europe from the starting point of the year zero that begins with the fall of Berlin in 1945. Weaving a series of narratives that work across different versions of history, Zero Point attempts to suture theatrical stagings of alternate histories with cinematic conventions to interrogate the way in which our culture uses history and cinema as a mode of identity creation. Zero Point uses innovative design, new projection technologies as a means to question and explore how, in the post war period, and often through the lens of the moving image, history has been transformed into spectacle and explores that our reliance on this spectacle for the source of historical truth often overlooks other ways of understanding the past. Zero Point is a Live at Lica commission and has received £98,000 of Arts Council England funding. Zero Point is also directly benefiting from the University's allocation of £96,000 funding to LICA to support work that utilises projectors and projection technology (awarded in 2011) and makes use of much of the digital equipment made available through the ARHC funded DIALab project (£180K), on which Zero Point is a named project. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Performances 9 Jan 2012 Platform Theatre, University of the Arts, London 14 November 2012 Peninsula Arts, Plymouth, 15 November 2012 Wickham Theatre, Bristol 14/15 December 2012 Platform Theatre, University of the Arts, London 30/31January 2013 Live at LICA, Lancaster 8/9 February 2013 Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick 14-16 February 2013 West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds 
Description This project set up facilities for artists to make innovative works using the latest digital technologies.
Exploitation Route The artworks produced will suggest new ideas to other artists.
Sectors Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description A number of artworks have been facilitated by this project. New works incorporating digital video with live theatre by the company Imitating the Dog have been particularly successful, touring widely in Britain and overseas (with support from the British Council).
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural