Unlocking creativity: FACTLab

image of blue and white cogs in the shape of a brain

Children constantly create, with their hands and minds, seeing castles among the clouds and 101 uses for plastic cups. As we age, the push for creativity can diminish and 'being creative' is often restricted to drawing, making music or writing. Yet creativity is much more than art, and the secret to unlocking creativity will be revealed at the new FACTLab, a partnership between LJMU’s School of Art and Design and FACT.

Dr Mark Wright, who holds a joint post with LJMU and FACT is developing FACTLab; a pioneering workshop space within the upcoming exhibition at FACT entitled Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing (4 June to 31 August). 

Visitors of all ages will be invited to physically explore the possibilities of creative technology, experimenting with tools and devices that are normally out of reach to most of us. Technologists and artists will also be on hand to share their skills and knowledge, welcoming visitors to use the space to develop their own creative projects. By offering them the chance to engage in activities such as 3D printing, filmmaking and computer coding, LJMU and FACT hope to support the development of both practical skills and a creative and critical interest in technology in Liverpool and beyond.

Dr Wright explains: 

"There is an exciting world-wide movement where art institutions move from just showing art to act as hubs for affect, engagement, research and innovation with the public, artists, researchers and creative sectors. FACT and LJMU are recognised leaders in this field and FACTLab is our way of exploring this space. Although many other centres exist, we are unique in combining a permanent embedded senior researcher, world class artists, extensive community engagement and now, with FACTLab, in-house public-facing artist developers."

FACTLab aims to be the initial step of something that will grow into a permanent resource for engaging with the creative community. As part of its three-month pilot programme, FACTLab will host visiting artists, support the development of new works, and provide a physical location in FACT’s Gallery 2 for informal workshops and skill-sharing events, offering activities ranging from musical instrument making to assembling 3D printed prosthetic hands.

The largest programme of workshops is FACTLab: Hack Nights, which has been developed to act as a hub where makers, developers and other communities can acquire new skills and quality learning experiences. FACTLab: Hack Nights will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and present skill sharing sessions where adult participants can learn about electronics, programming and creative technology regardless of their previous experience within the field.

Thiago Hersan, who moved from Brazil to Liverpool with his colleague Radamés Ajna to be one of the first creative technologists to occupy the FACTLab space, said: 

"I’m interested in fostering communities for exploring non-traditional uses of technologies. FACTLab will create opportunities for people to engage with, and sometimes influence, works while they're being developed, and will be a great place to build a community around art and technology practices."

Other activities taking place in the FACTLab space will be a summer school for children exploring coding using Raspberry Pi, and Manchester based maker collective the Owl Project’s workshops will explore different aspects of musical instrument making, resulting in the iLog - a fully functional musical instrument housed in a wooden log. FACTLab will also host Show and Tell gatherings for people who use technology in their creative practice, to provide an opportunity for them to meet, talk about their work and share details about their processes and experiences.

The exhibition Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing takes place from 4 June to 31 August and is co-produced by the Crafts Council and FACT in association with Norfolk Museums Service. It will explore how new technologies change traditional crafts, and how makers can work, share and collaborate both locally and globally in the digital age. 

FACTLab is presented by FACT, developed with LJMU and sponsored by the Culture Programme of the European Union and Connecting Cities.


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