UK creative artist Karen Palmer wins South by Southwest 2023 Award for innovation XR experience

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, March 3, 2024


UK creative artist Karen Palmer wins South by Southwest 2023 Award for innovation XR experience
Consensus Gentium by Karen Palmer. (Promo image).



LONDON.- Future Art and Culture is delighted to announce that UK creative artist Karen Palmer’s project CONSENSUS GENTIUM has won the XR experience competition at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The award-winning international artist and TED Speaker uses interactive storytelling to explore race, bias in technology and social justice.

An immersive, interactive experience exploring the implications of A.I., her latest work, Consensus Gentium, incorporates film, surveillance and facial recognition technology, and the Parkour philosophy of moving through fear, in a branching narrative that is responsive to its audience’s emotions and their compliance or dissidence.

Consensus Gentium, which was made with the support of the BFI (awarding National Lottery funding), and produced by Tom Millen, Thalia Mavros, Jackson Lapsley Scott and Tuyet Huynh, is presented as part of the UK’s 2023 Future Art and Culture programme within the international festival of tech and innovation, South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW).

The seventh annual showcase of world-leading British talent focusing on work that explores the boundaries of art and technology, Future Art and Culture is produced by British Underground, supported by Arts Council England and in 2023 received additional support from the British Council.

From SXSW:

‘The XR Experience Jury award goes to an experience that shows how technologies meant for connection can also be used to disconnect and divide. Ultimately, the choice to accept or fight it is ours – and it's just a tap away.’

Karen Palmer says:

‘The recognition of being a winner at SXSW 2023 for my XR Experience is truly exhilarating. I am thrilled that my work has been acknowledged, especially as it touches on significant themes such as AI bias, governance, privacy surveillance, and the impending technocracy of global governments. These themes are uniquely connected with the activation of agency in the participant through the intersection of art, tech, and science.Its an honour to represent my community with my black girl magic in a space that may not be traditionally associated with us. This award means a lot to me personally because I have dedicated over 15 years of my life to immersive work, and it is gratifying to see my efforts culminating in this achievement. It is a reminder that success is a product of hard work and perseverance over time, rather than overnight success. None of this would have been possible without the support of the BFI, who I am thankful for believing in me and the project.’

CONSENSUS GENTIUM (Latin for ‘if everyone believes it, it must be true’), which received its world premier at SXSW this week, is a powerful exploration into the implications of today's AI technology. It is an interactive, emotionally responsive film that integrates cutting- edge facial detection and AI, and transports audiences on a unique quest to discover what could happen if we succumb to unchecked surveillance. Through a smartphone, participants must visit their sick grandmother across a dystopian city. However, in order to do so, they are required to download a government surveillance based Global Citizen App. While Global Citizen measures their levels of dissidence and compliance, they receive calls and messages from friends and rogue techno-activists who reveal the consequences of their choices. How will they navigate the line between compliance and dissidence in order to care for their loved ones? And at what cost? Consensus Gentium is an interactive experience designed to drive discussion about data privacy, unconscious biases and the power of technology.

Immediately following SXSW, Consensus Gentium will receive its UK premier at The Roundhouse, London, from 28-30 March as part of its FUTURES season, which explores the theme of Liberation.

Laura Dyer Deputy Chief Executive at Arts Council England says:

‘Arts Council England is a proud investor in the Future Art and Culture programme which provides a significant platform, as well as practical and financial support to pioneering UK creative talent like Karen Palmer to exhibit in the official SXSW schedule. We are delighted that her powerful and innovative work has been recognised by the jury and also that the other extraordinary UK participants have received such positive audience feedback and made great international connections to continue the development of their work’

Mia Bays, Director of BFI National Lottery Film Fund says:

‘Consensus Gentium is such a thought-provoking work that challenges the viewer to think about ‘everyday’ technology by immersing us into a ‘real’ story world based around the tech. We are so proud of Karen Palmer and the team who crafted the work so carefully and thoughtfully and have worked so hard to situate the film to audiences too. What an accolade, thank you SXSW jury!’

Karen Palmer is an award-winning international artist and TED Speaker using interactive storytelling to explore race, bias in technology and social justice. Her immersive experiences incorporate film, A.I. technology, Storytelling, Implicit Bias, Behavioural Psychology, Social Justice and the Parkour philosophy of moving through fear. Karen has been described as a Thought Leader in the realms of Immersive Storytelling, Futurism and Tech. There have been innumerable articles on her work published in Wired Magazine, Forbes, PC Mag, CBS TV , Fast Company, Engadget, and The Guardian. Exhibitions include the V&A in London, the PHI Centre Montreal, SXSW, Austin, The Museum of Modern Art, Peru. The EmoPy facial emotion detection software developed by her technology partners, ThoughtWorks Arts, is available open source and reflects the commitment to democratizing A.I. through building transparent tools for public access.










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