Ed Atkins' Performance Capture inspires Greater Manchester students

08 Jul 2015

7 mins
Ed Atkins' Performance Capture
Ed Atkins' Performance Capture

Students recently had the fantastic and exclusive opportunity to preview digital artist Ed Atkins Performance Capture exhibition, which premieres at Manchester International Festival 2015 (MIF15).

Taking place at Manchester Art Gallery over the course of the Festival, the exhibition provides a unique and reflexive insight into the production of computer-generated moving image work.

Workshops, commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival in partnership with Into Film and Manchester Art Gallery, offered Year 12 visual arts and media students across Greater Manchester the exciting and unique opportunity to explore the technology behind, and themes and ideas showcased in Performance Capture.

Through interactive workshops and talks with Ed and members of his creative team - Manchester-based animation company Studio Distract and University of Salford undergraduates - students were able to work alongside and speak to a variety of leading creative industry professionals whilst getting to grips with state of the art motion capture technology and cutting edge animation software used by Pixar.

Students began by exploring the theme of identity through the creation of computer generated avatars; this was followed by a valuable Careers Q&A session with the Managing Director of Studio Distract; and finally a discussion with Ed Atkins himself accompanied by an interactive preview tour of his new MIF15 exhibition.

In his own words, Ed describes the themes of his work, which tie in heavily with our Identity theme.

How has the Internet affected our sense of self? Our interaction with others? Social media is the pre-eminent way of existing. More relations are formed and more networks exist in those versions of our lives; identity and the creation of avatars, creating an 'everyman' quality and another self. What does it meant to don a mask, and what does that kind of anonymity allow?

Ed Atkins, digital artist

This exciting experience gave students a fascinating and stimulating context for motion capture technology and digital art, allowing them to consider progression routes into the creative industry - one that is currently booming in Britain. The workshop also helped to develop self-confidence, key technical skills, and improve communication and creative thinking skills.

It's one of the best workshops we've ever been on. Students have learned loads, it's literally going to be life changing for them because it's enabled them to see how the art and technology meet and can be taken into industry. And to meet Ed Atkins and Studio Distract was such a privilege for them.

Helen Stubbs, Head of Art & Design, Ashton Sixth Form College

We'd like to thank Manchester International Festival and Manchester Art Gallery for working with us and helping to make this unique and exciting opportunity possible.

Manchester International Festival is the world's first festival of original new work and special events, and takes place biennially. MIF15 takes place from 2 - 19 July 2015.

This work is part of our Opening Minds, Transforming Lives project which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and seeks to engage disadvantaged young people in the Greater Manchester area. The overall aims of the project are to increase the personal, educational and vocational development of children and young people in Greater Manchester's most deprived areas, increasing social cohesion in the community.

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