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ART-AI festival wins innovation award

A festival which puts the art into artificial intelligence has been named the best innovation in the city’s creative sector.

The inaugural ART-AI Festival brought world-leading artists to Leicester and involved local schools to demystify sometimes complex concepts for audiences around the city and county.

kitty AI

Now, with just weeks to go before the 2019 event, organisers say they are delighted to have had such a ringing endorsement with the win at the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards, which celebrated the very best technology, digital advances and creative thinking in the region.

The ART-AI Festival was produced by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Institute of Creative Technologies, sponsored by #DMUlocal and supported by Phoenix Cinema and Highcross Shopping Centre.

Professor Tracy Harwood, of DMU’s IOCT, said: “Working with partners Phoenix, Highcross Shopping Centre and independent curator, Luba Elliott, we were able to bring something really interesting to Leicester: the first Art AI Festival!

“The aim was to make the technology accessible to as many people as possible, and through the artwork get them to think about what it is doing and how it is doing it, as well as enjoy the artwork.

“We are continuing to work together to present this year's event in May too. We'll be making our website and programme available shortly, involving even more venues across Leicester, so the award is an excellent endorsement for the public.”

This year’s festival runs from 16 to 31 May. There will be free interactive artworks to see at venues across the city including Phoenix Cinema, Highcross, Leicester Haymarket Theatre and Shopping Centre and Leicester’s Central Library. There is also an installation for patients and carers at Leicester Partnerships Trust.

The Matrix bullet scene

Among the events planned for 2019 are:

• Improvised AI comedy performance at Phoenix Leicester, including a live ‘Turing test’ – will the audience tell if answers are from humans or machines?

• Children making ‘useless machines’ at Haymarket Theatre

• Artist Mario Klingermann – the first person to sell AI-created art at Sotheby’s – creating an installation

• A short film season, including a 20th anniversary showing of The Matrix

Of last year’s event and the award, Jo Tallack, general manager at Highcross said: "We were delighted to welcome the Apparatus Love installation to Highcross last year and support this truly unique, innovative and creative technology. Our shoppers enjoyed getting involved with the experience and spreading the love.

“Through our work with the team at the ART-AI Festival, we also had the chance to host interactive AI workshops for local schoolkids, which were hugely successful."

Curator Luba Elliott said: “With the ART-AI festival, our aim was to place cutting edge art made with artificial intelligence into the public sphere to help the general public understand the technology and its creative potential. It's great to see our work being recognized.

“In our second year of the festival, we have even more ambitious plans with more public venues and high-profile international artists on board such as the Lumen Prize winner Mario Klingemann from Germany and Gene Kogan from the US.”

Chris Tyrer, of Leicester Phoenix, said: “We’re thrilled that the Art-AI festival has been recognised for its innovative nature – it’s a testament to the great partnerships and talented people that make it possible. We’re looking forward to building on the success of the festival this year – working with brilliant artists like Mario Klingermann – and developing it even further when our new gallery and cinema screens open in 2020.”

• Follow the festival on Twitter @artaifestival Instagram ArtAIFestLeics or Facebook. The website is at

Posted on Wednesday 10th April 2019

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