Beta is a new festival of art and technology critically engaging with the impact of emerging technologies on society. Taking Ireland’s role as a central node in today's wired world as a starting point, Beta will showcase and celebrate Ireland’s research and artistic communities through a combination of creativity, debate and experimentation. Beta will allow members of the public to engage playfully and critically with new technologies essentially beta testing ethical issues facing society.
The festival takes place the first weekend in November. The first edition took place November 2nd - 5th 2023. You can see the 2023 full programme through the Events & Exhibition section of the website.
The Digital Hub have made a five-year commitment to the festival (2023 - 2028) and in year one it will take place in The Digital Hub, NCAD Gallery, Roe & Co Distillery, Pallas Studios and Tailor’s Hall with support from Goethe-Institut Irland, Creative Futures Academy, Ambassade de France en Irlande, British Council Ireland, Roe & Co Distillery, ADAPT Research Centre, The Arts Council of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.
We came up with Beta as a title for the festival as it is immediately linked to technology, it is experimental in nature and it allows us the opportunity to beta test the ethical implications of these technologies on society with the general public.
The festival is currently the only festival of its kind in Ireland for art and technology bringing together artists, researchers, and industry with a focus on ethics and public engagement. The recently published National Artificial Intelligence Strategy and National Digital Strategy highlight Ireland’s longstanding commitment to being a leader in innovation and research in digital technologies, platforms and infrastructures - a commitment that has seen so many international tech companies establish themselves within the country over the past two decades. With government plans to position Ireland as a leader in artificial intelligence and immersive technologies it has never been more important to engage the general public with the skills and literacy required to use new technologies, while critically situating them within wider societal contexts relevant to our contemporary networked world. The Arts Council plans to publish their Digital Art Policy this year and this has also highlighted the need for more opportunities for communities interested in art and technology to come together.
IDENTITY & DIGITAL COMMISSION
The artist Leon Butler was commissioned to imagine what the identity of a festival of art and technology could be and he created an artistic response utilising machine learning to generate a new font - he corrupted the data set with unusual fonts to lean into the more uncanny and imperfections of the type. The final logo almost looks hand drawn or screen printed with beautifully imperfect edges - this juxtaposition of cutting-edge technology and human creativity is exactly what we want to showcase and explore with the festival.
The homepage of the website features a new commission from the artist and designer Farouk Alao. He is a artist specialising in 3D motion and web design, driven by the possibilities these mediums offer for immersive and interactive experiences. He drew inspiration from nature, his world, and human emotions, his vision explores the intersection of reality and imagination.
The artists core concept behind the site and motion piece is positioning Beta Festival which is represented by the Beta Cube as a centre point in which art, technology and creativity revolve. He developed the Beta Cube in response to Leon Butler's Beta logo design.