Ballina to host Digital Transformations Conference

“There’s a lot of talk about the impact of Digital Tech in a practical sense (what we can do with VR, 3D printing, digital distribution models, etc.), but very little about the ideas, thoughts, morality and ethics underlying it all. We talk about what we can do with the new tools, but never enough about what the new tools will do to us. Most events that combine arts and technology are essentially business-driven, bringing business language and values into cultural discourse, assuming the business culture is a natural environmental fact.” – Scott Coombs, Conference Director

Digital Transformations is a conference bringing together18 speakers from Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and the US, including practicing artists, technologists, leading cultural curators, academics and educators. It is a forum for radical thinking, inspired by the idea that the arts should be leading our transition to this new, profoundly disorienting society – but ironically this new society is one in which art as we know it will struggle to retain its power and influence.

Digital Transformations was conceived by Scott Coombs, an American-born IT Consultant who lives and works in the Northwest. He put the conference together to  “…look at the cultural impacts of the emerging digital society and establish a forum for people to see and react to the big changes in arts, politics and society. ”. One of the other organisers, John O’Brien, added “…this conference isn’t trying to sell the digital society, but to create an open forum where the value of cultural responses take centre stage. Right now the future is in the hands of the technologists, the pseudo rational and the faux scientific and we really need to talk about this. We need both sides of the brain to deal with what’s coming at us.”

Digital Transformations is built around talks, panel discussions, and break-out sessions where attendees can get involved in the debate and formulate a manifesto for the future. Evening entertainment will be provided by the ever-popular trio of Seamie O’Dowd, Kieran Quinn and Joe Kelly.

Gaynor Seville, Arts Officer at Mayo County Council, said “one of the interesting aspects of this project is that the organisers were seeking a location outside the major centres to establish this conference, and I was delighted that they selected north Mayo because I share their belief in the potential of this conference and it confirms Mayo as a place that’s willing to experiment and support new ideas.”

Business leaders from Mayo are also lending their support to this vital conversation and Seán Walsh, director at the Ballina Arts Centre, is confident that the centre on Barrett Street in Ballina has the right mix of size and intimacy to make the conference a successful and memorable one, and “hopefully, the first of many” he added.