Leeds Creative Labs

Collaborations for Academics & Creative Innovators

Author: Imran Ali (page 1 of 2)

To survive and prosper social labs need to be less lab, and more social: helping people find their own solutions in unique situations rather than discovering universal laws to scale and to replicate. We need more labs. But we also need a mixed ecology of innovation spaces – the trans-disciplinary studio, the Utopian experiment, the engineers’ test-bed, the artists’ colony – blending the science and tech with the art and craft of the (seemingly) improbable.


Closing the DARE Edition (2015)

Earlier this the cohort for the DARE Edition of Leeds Creative Labs gathered to present their journeys over the course of the last month.

The lab team’s motivation for the DARE Edition was to understand if the labs model could be as effective a catalyst for innovation in areas such as the arts, culture and performance. That this notion made us uncomfortable also helped us understand that it was a risk worth exploring. Indeed, the DARE Edition has already helped innovate the labs overall; our terminology for curated participants was previously ‘technologists’ but now we think of them as ‘creative innovators’. Continue reading

Data Staffs, Knitted Pixels, Invisibility Cloaks

One of our favourite creative labs alumni, artist Dave Lynch, has also been involved in designing and producing a whole other creative lab programme, specifically to help artists and creatives find time and space to conduct R&D.

Schemes &  Dreams

The second iteration of Dave’s Digital Media Labs took place as a week long residency in Barrow-in-Furness last September. Dave asked me to attend the final presentations and document my observations for later publication.

You can read a preview of my experience in a piece over at Medium

In a park at the end of the world, I found the blended artefacts of ancient and new cultures — data staffs, knitted pixels, invisibility cloaks, messages suspended in the ether, sardonic software and code as poetry.

Entanglement, Entropy

Fantasy Technology + Everyday Magic

As we started to think about the final series of presentations by the cohort for The Hepworth Wakefield edition of the labs, we wanted to bookend Cory Doctorow’s thrilling provocation from our January launch, with an equally compelling message on the intersections between culture, art and technology.

I’m really excited to confirm that Leila Johnston, founder of Sheffield-based Hack Circus, will be presenting a keynote on Fantasy Technology & Everyday Magic at our closing event tomorrow afternoon.

I first came across Leila at FutureEverything’s Global FUTR Lab earlier this year in Manchester. Her work on Hack Circus is “dedicated to celebrating the entertaining and engaging side of inventive thought, whether that manifests physically with wires and batteries, or conceptually in artistic or philosophical ways.”

Leila’s perspectives seem to be a fitting coda for what we’ve been aiming to achieve with this edition of the labs, in remixing the gallery and discovering new futures for our cultural institutions.

Deep Hanging Out & Human Infrastructure

In commencing the Hepworth Wakefield edition last week, I wanted to frame the meaning, expectations and philosophy of the labs and prepared a short talk for the latest cohort.

Here’s what I said… Continue reading

Introducing the Hepworth Edition cohort

After agonising over applications along with Sue and Natalie, we finally arrived at our selection for the 2015 cohort and The Hepworth Edition of the labs.

Last week we convened our academics, students and technologist to introduce them to each other and our challenge to Remix the Gallery.

Continue reading

Impact in 5

Last November, Erica put together an evening of lightning talks to showcase the impact of various research projects at the University of Leeds, including two which originated in the Creative Labs…

Firstly, Simon Popple and I presented Pararchive and our progress from early conversations brokered by the lab in 2012, to an AHRC-funded 18-month research programme which is coming to an end in a few weeks time with the launch of our storytelling app Yarn.

The second talk showcased the collaboration on Hajj Experiences between Seán, Jo and Tim during the Summer 2014 edition… Continue reading

Cory Doctorow: GLAM and the Free World

When we started to think about the challenge with which we wished to frame the Hepworth Edition of the labs, we had a lot of ideas about culture-as-a-platform which led us to the OpenGLAM principles – good practices for galleries, libraries, archives and museums looking to embrace an open, connected philosophy.

Serendipitously I came across a talk by Cory Doctorow on this very subject and immediately we knew we wanted to have Cory’s ideas at the heart of our project and invited him to share those ideas at our launch event last month.

Cory spoke of the moral, political and democratic freedoms at stake across the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sector and how it could take the lead in ensuring that access to our cultural assets and heritage remain free and open; we’re hoping those ideas provide a compelling backdrop for our next cohort this Spring.

Reflections on the Summer 2014 edition

Following the final presentations from our Summer 2014 cohort, we asked each team to reflect on their experiences and how their process and perspectives were affected by participating in the Labs.

Here are there thoughts on last Summer’s work…

Christine Farion and Mark Taylor-Batty


Jo Merrygold, Tim Waters and Dr. Seán McLoughlin


Dr. Lisa Blackmore and Ian Pringle


Jane Wood, Dr. Kia Ng and Shay Moradi

The Hepworth Wakefield Edition: Scenes from a launch…

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