FutureEverything in Moscow

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FutureEverything, in collaboration with the British Council, are developing some new and exciting projects in Moscow, Russia.

Culture Shift Russia, will be our first programme of activity. Culture Shift is a programme that has now been delivered in 10 different countries, with the objective of developing experimental ideas, partnerships and creative business start-ups. It aims to connect these ideas with sector leaders, bespoke mentors and new investment communities around the world.

We attended a scoping visit last week to try and get ‘under the bonnet’ of Moscow’s technology, arts and cultural community. Moscow is an intriguing, cosmopolitan city full of young, bright individuals who have a hunger to improve their city through social infrastructure and innovation. A running theme in Moscow for the last two years has been ‘Smart Cities’ and there is still a genuine passion amongst the communities we met, to support the positive growth of Moscow.

An example of Moscivion organisations dedicated to innovative social infrastructure can be seen in Teplitsa Socialnyh Technologiy who crowdsource social technologies for the third sector, or Strelka, an institute with the vision to transform Russia’s physical and social environment, with cities being the platform for change.

FutureEverything found a true comrade in Alexey Sherbina from MIGZ, an annual festival of contemporary music and media art founded in 2008. The festival has been a focal point for a developing community of digital artists, musicians and innovators from Moscow and beyond.

One of the most interesting artists we met was Dmitry Morozov, a media-artist, musician and engineer. Starting in mid 00s, Dmitry actively began using circuit-bent instruments for his own music projects, as well as making instruments for other musicians and media artists at the same time. He is the first serial music and video synthesizer producer in all of post-soviet territories, after the collapse of USSR.

Besides making music and instruments, Dmitry creates audiovisual art-installations and advocates circuit bending and DIY electronic in Russia by means of lectures and workshops. He recently starred in the incredible documentary, Electro Moscow, which was showcased at this year’s Sheffied Doc/Fest.

The Neuron hacker space showcased the development of real community passion and activity in hacking and innovation. Its founders had graciously absorbed personal financial risk to establish this organisation, with high rent prices and a small community of committed individuals. By day, Neuron works as a co-working space for IT and design specialists, but in the evenings it acts as an event space for hackathons, hacker conferences, workshops and presentations. One of its members, Mike McFarlane, a robotisist originally from Scotland, is founder of robotguide.com and has an interest in personal robots. He will be bringing his own robot to Culture Shift Russia with the hope of creating a hack, alongside other artists, that will use the robot as part of the performance.

Culture Shift Russia will create a space for idea generation and exploration through rapid prototyping, creative experimentation and low risk play. A weekend ‘Art Lab’ will be held at Strelka and the objective will be to develop creative prototypes through collaborative working.

The event will be attractive to all types of artists and technologists who are interested in collaborating and creating. The events could connect artists, makers and cultural organisations with software developers, hardware hackers and creative technologists to see what amazing things can happen. This process should play a pivotal role in relationship brokerage, ideas generation and developing new professional networks. It should act as a process for research and development (R&D) when considering how digital technology can be used by cultural institutions to increase their audiences

Moscow is a fascinating place, and the increasing prosperity of the middle class is glaringly obvious. A sense of healthy national pride has developed since the fall of communism, balanced with an air of fun and optimism. Some of the wonderful restaurants, bars and parks we visited demonstrate this – If you are visiting as a tourist, make sure you check out Gorky Park and Neskuchny Garden, which translates as “The Park of Not Boring Things.” But beware, Moscow is ranked as the second most expensive city in the world so make sure you go prepared to return with a dent in your wallet.

Culture Shift Russia will be taking place at Strelka in September 2013.