Having completed courses on International Business and Relations back home in Ecuador, I started an Executive Master of Arts (EMA) at the University of Melbourne, Australia. As part of my EMA program, I applied for an internship at FACT after discovering that their work brings together two of my passions in life; arts and social wellbeing. The influence FACT has in the community reinforced my idea about the transformational power of the arts to beautify society and shape more cohesive communities, empowering people to own the creative process and share it with others.
So when I embarked on my journey to Liverpool for the residency, I had a lot of questions in my head. I experienced a cocktail of emotions that included a fair dose of nerves, excitement and hope too. I wondered what the people were going to be like and what their expectations of me might be; what the projects I would be working on were; and how my experience was going to take shape. These are feelings I always experience when I am about to start a journey of discovery.
From the warm welcome my new boss gave me, to the valuable inductions I received, the meaningful tasks I had to perform and the wide space for discussion and learning, I knew that my experience at FACT was going to be rewarding. During my residency, I researched the topic of protest in the contemporary world and the ways it can be expressed through art and technology. I analysed some relevant cases in both fields and the implications they had at a political, social and cultural level.
The paper I am working on as a result of that research proposes that protesting in such ways has the power to ignite discussion about different problems, as these methods touch people's aesthetic sensibility and gather them around common concerns which overcome distance and physical borders.
My short experience was full of discoveries, and after five weeks of my residency, I left FACT maintaining the same great impression of the institution and the people who bring it to life as I had when I first arrived. I had the chance to explore some creative uses of art and technology in ways I didn't even know were possible, and through my research I realized how important protest is for the health of democracy and how people all over the world exercise this right in unique ways by using creative formats as a means of expression. My research also enabled me to understand the important role of FACT in opening spaces for public discussions regarding topics that impacts our daily lives.
FACT's public programmes, which are designed to improve local community wellbeing, really captured my attention during the residency: both in the way they are conceived and the valuable service they provide to the people of Liverpool. Coming from a different sociocultural background, where art and technology have not been explored to their full potential, I came to realize that there is plenty of room to innovate back home and put my new found knowledge into the service of the community. It is a huge challenge that I'm willing to take on.
Now that I am returning home, I feel enthusiastic about the upcoming challenges, taking with me all the things I've learned while being part of a leading media arts centre like FACT.