10 October 2008

FACT's (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) theme for 2008, Human Futures, will be the focus of a series of events from 30 October until 02 November to help explore and define a vision of the world in which we want to live. A book, published by Liverpool University Press and edited by Dr Andy Miah will be launched which collects a series of essays by leading thinkers, artists, scientists and writers inspired by Human Futures. On the same day a symposium will be held further discussing and analysing those themes while from 31 October until 02 November FACT hosts the annual Free Thinking festival in Liverpool, programmed by BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Merseyside which this year is dedicated to Human Futures.

Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty, a publication, brings together a range of conversations stemming from different studies; including science, ethics, philosophy, art and literature. A series of newly commissioned essays from contributors like Sandra Kemp, Norman M Klein and Gregor Wolbring examine varied themes including the relationship between the human body and technology, the public engagement with science and the significance of science-fiction. Designed by Liverpool based company Burn, the reader will provide an excellent insight into the vision of our future world, examining how thought and practice often intersects across disciplines.

Human Futures, the Symposium, is programmed by FACT fellows Dr Andy Miah and Ernest Edmonds and will take place on the same days as the publication launch, 30 October 2008. It is designed to further expand on the discussions surrounding the topics, featuring key-note speeches from a range of writers and artists. The Symposium will be held at FACT in Screen 3. From 31 October to 02 November 2008, BBC Radio 3 and Radio Merseyside's unique festival of ideas is coming back to Liverpool for a third time this autumn. Free Thinking is a chance to come face-to-face with some of today's leading thinkers, artists, scientists and writers, including Will Self, Tony Benn, Bill Drummond, and Trevor Phillips.

This year, the festival joins FACT in exploring Human Futures, looking in detail at the 21st Century Brain and The Value of Experience.  Sessions will look at how advances in neuroscience are questioning the way we think about ourselves, examine the growing divide in a society where people are living longer and explore privacy and public space from social networks to changing cities like Liverpool itself.

FACT's programme for the Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture has been dedicated to Human Futures. Divided into three sections, my body, my mind and my world, each strand contained a major exhibition alongside a series of workshops, webcasts, discussions and a film programme to further delve into the theme and appeal to a variety of audiences. The ground-breaking sk-interfaces, curated by Jens Hauser, brought together 17 international artists, including Orlan and Stelarc, examining the use of skin as a material for art. In spring, UK artists AL and AL brought their unique vision of the world via a blue screen studio with a new commission, Eternal Youth, that illustrates the potential of a disenfranchised youth in an urban landscape, using the artists' pioneering computer generated imagery.

Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist's exhibition featured two UK premieres of Gravity, Be My Friend (2007) and Open My Glade (2000) examining the physical world and our relationship to the natural and built environment. Rist's work challenges the way we physically look at art, be it lying on a carpet watching a projection on the ceiling, peering through a crack in a wooden crate to see a miniature room or perched on oversized furniture watching TV. The Human Futures programme at FACT has resulted in record-breaking exhibition and visitor figures, with a new audience total set for sk-interfaces, only to be broken five months later by Pipilotti Rist's exhibition. Over 300,000 people have been to FACT so far in 2008.