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[WiS Seminar Series]: Space for imagination - new technologies as stages for collective futures - 6 December 2021

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Annette Mees’ practice focusses on multi-disciplinary collaboration bringing artists and cultural organisations, technology partners and researchers together to collectively explore possible futures through art. She has recently brought her work to King’s College London. Growing out of a pioneering artist-led initiative based at London’s Royal Opera House, this phase of Audience Labs delves into unexplored conversations and questions around the future of performance.

Cultural institutions the world over collectively seek out new ways to connect meaningfully to local, global and diverse audiences, co-producing and programming work offers meaning and connection to the changing world around us and each other. The work of Audience Labs seeks to expand where culture can take place, who gets to make it and how people find it in the world. When working with digital tools you aren’t simply inventing new formats, you’re also trialling new processes and building new types of creative teams. Audience Labs aims to bring together the stagecraft and emotional power that theatre makers have iterated over hundreds of years with the possibilities of contemporary technologies that extend or create new realities. Its methodologies provide a unique opportunity to look, not just at new types of performance, but new ways of working.

Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, Audience Labs brought the world’s first opera in hyper reality, Current, Rising, to the stage at the Royal Opera House in London. Landing to critical acclaim Current, Rising was inspired by the liberation of Ariel at the end of Shakespeare’s Tempest. It combines the digital innovation of virtual reality with sound, movement and a physical environment to create a multi-sensory, immersive opera experience. Four people at a time go on a journey together through the six phases of the night. Participants are empowered to collectively explore a series of imaginary dreamscapes, travelling from twilight to dawn as they encounter ideas of isolation, connection, re-imagination and end on the final line of the libretto “What shall we build for ourselves?”

This seminar takes Current, Rising as a case study of the Audience Labs' approach to partnership, iterative innovation, and the disruption hierarchies and expectations on artistic potential of technology and the role art and culture can play in shaping our relationship to the technologies we use, and it sets out the questions Audience Labs will be engaging with at King’s in the next year.


Annette Mees is an award-winning artistic director known for her innovative, interdisciplinary and experiential work that allows audiences to explore big ideas and create meaningful change. She explores the artistic possibilities of immersive technologies and works with leading artists, cutting-edge creative immersive technology and inter-disciplinary creative teams to innovate and push boundaries.

Annette is currently Artistic Director Audience Labs and Visiting Senior Research Fellow in Culture and Creative Industries at King’s College London. Audience Labs is dedicated to exploring the artistic possibilities of immersive technologies. It partners leading artists with cutting-edge creative immersive technology and inter-disciplinary creative teams to create world-class work that innovates and pushes boundaries. Audience Labs was started at the Royal Opera House and has recently moved to King’s to explore the future of performance and interdisciplinary practice.

Annette is the chair of FutureEverything, an arts organisation based in Manchester who explore the intersection of art, technology and society through bold new art commissions, living labs, participatory design and public events.

Next to that she advises organisations on the future of culture, artistic innovation strategies, creative R&D, interdisciplinary collaborations and mentors diverse artists who are exploring new forms of artistic practise or work in the cross-over between art and activism.

Anette was a Creative Fellow for WIRED and The Space, Guest-Artistic Director of the Danish Inspiration Lab and worked on the IK-prize winning Sensorium at Tate Britain. She started her career as one of the co-Artistic Directors of Coney. Annette has worked with partners across sectors including Google, Tate Britain, UK Parliament, WIRED Magazine, European Space Agency, British Council, Magic Leap, King’s College London, ICA, The National Theatre of Wales, SJ01 San Jose Biennale, & NESTA.

How to join

The seminar can be joined through Microsoft Teams - either through the Teams app or your web browser.

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Event details

6 December 2021

Online event