We are living in a digital world.

By Lara Ratnaraja, Cultural Consultant

“Don't you wonder sometimes 'bout sound and vision,” David Bowie, Sound and Vision.

Madonna may have sung about living in a material world, but, increasingly, notions of materiality have been subverted by the evolution of immersive experiences.

Cultural experience, be it auditory, visual or sensory has been transformed from a linear distribution model that presents work at audiences, to a dispersed, augmented and amplified experience.

While the ‘live’ experience will always maintain its emotional and visceral impact, technology such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) provide a whole new spectrum of creative opportunities. In doing so, the experience of audiences is enhanced, democratising modes of reception.

A cultural model of production that emanates from the centre is predicated on permissions and an invitation in to view culture on prescriptive terms.

The tendency of digital cultural experience to be viewed as a gateway to the live experience is a reductive one that inhibits cultural participation and limits creative expression.

In a recent article in Arts Professional, Anne Torreggiani, CEO of The Audience Agency, posed the question, “How do we use the new channels and platforms available to us to increase the reach of our work?”

Immersive cultural production enables a truly representative experience of a plurality of voices that reflects and challenges audiences and can significantly increase audience reach.

This presents a huge opportunity for new forms of creative expression, for disruption in traditional models of cultural production, and for audiences to experience culture in multiple ways.

What is challenging is our need for new ways to articulate these myriad modes of reception, to understand and ascribe new terms of value and to explore new frameworks to create work.

With a non-linear cultural dialogue, there are whole new areas to explore such as ethics, accountability and responsibility with regards to the creation of empathic environments. Equally, however, there is a brave new world of creative opportunity, collaboration and the forging a new inclusive relationships with audiences as well as a new form of participation founded on an equality of cultural discourse rather than permission.

In a recent talk about artist diversity I spoke about a new narrative on diversity and cultural creation and engagement. One that is not based on ═×allowing═č diverse artists in, in the well-meaning spirit of inclusion, but creating a narrative on inclusion that is not predicated on permission or an invitation. Instead, the foundation is on collaboration, equality of discourse and equity of diverse cultural value to allow for a fluidity and intersectional cultural ecology.

Creating new frameworks of immersive and virtual creative experiences, we can catalyse development in a plurality of artistic voices to wider, diverse audiences.

The opportunities presented for new forms of democratised digital story telling creates an exciting future for new cultural experience and content and new collaborative thinking to inform this.

We no longer have to wait to receive the gift of sound and vision as we have new ways for artists to forge practices, collaborate with other sectors and contribute to creating new opportunities for experimentation, content and influence how the world sees itself and others.

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