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Saturday, March 14, 1998 Published at 22:30 GMT


Multimedia art gets streetwise
image: [ Shoppers dressed as sheep: Lulu Quinn examines consumer behaviour ]
Shoppers dressed as sheep: Lulu Quinn examines consumer behaviour

In the past digital art may have been something exclusively for geeks. Now, as the digital revolution continues, people don't even have to get close to a computer to really enjoy it.

In Sheffield, in the north of England, installations like the world's largest digital stamp and a shop window of digital sheep followers are just two of a broad canvas of public artworks that will be brought to the masses.

The ground-breaking exhibition is part of Sheffield's acclaimed digital arts festival, Lovebytes, which returns on Monday, March 16.

[ image: Stone Troupers by Steve Hawley and Jonathon Allen]
Stone Troupers by Steve Hawley and Jonathon Allen
"The festival is a cross between art and popular culture - it's radical in its application because no-one else is doing it" said Andy Stamp, spokesman at Lovebytes.

"Most computer festivals involve a lot of techies hidden in a room. What we're doing is taking art on to the streets so ordinary people can see what's going on and get involved."

Lovebytes, a non-profit making organisation based in Sheffield, has promoted the multimedia arts over the past five years. It has helped Sheffield to become home to some of the most ambitious multimedia production and exhibition facilities in Britain.

"We're anti-elitist and anti-technology. What we're trying to do is to give new entrants a good leg up and help them make a break as artists."

The six-week festival includes a multimedia gallery, seminars, film screenings, workshops, performance and live music events.

This year's theme explores "tribal" values in the digital age and focuses on the cultural aspects of new technology.

[ image: Stamps to be collected on the Web]
Stamps to be collected on the Web
Called HyperTribes, the exhibition includes six technology-based installations commissioned by Lovebytes which will be displayed at different venues in Sheffield.

The artists use digital media, video projection and interactive elements to create a city-wide exhibition to transform the urban twilight with images, light and sound.

Among the creations is Lulu Quinn's Flocked, an ironic play on consumer behaviour. An interactive installation in the window of one of Sheffield's department stores, it reflects the flocking natures of shoppers and sheep.

[ image: Mike Lawson Smith on football]
Mike Lawson Smith on football
Another innovative work is Simon Poulter's Hyperphilately, averaging 10 by 7.5 metres, which will hang from the city's Post office. Simon will be publishing a series of stamps on the Internet for people to collect.

"The installations are all very different yet wonderful in their own right," said Mr Stamp. "Mike Lawson Smith's work on football in Sheffield is extremely eloquent." The installation is a display of the memories and stories of Sheffield football fans.

The festival, which culminates with a special conference where artists and performers are invited to speak, runs until April 25.

Exhibition details:

  • Vanishing points of view by Mike Lawson at Furnival Gate
  • Stone Troupers by Steve Hawley & Jonathan Allen at Division Street
  • Hyperphilately by Simon Poulter at Sheffield Post Office, Fitzalan Square
  • Provincially/Provisionally by Andrew Stones at Sheffield's New Town Hall
  • Flocked by Lulu Quinn at the House of Fraser in Sheffield High Street
  • Remote Systems by Premium Leisure at Pond's Forge Sports Centre in Commercial Street

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