An innovative virtual game that draws inspiration from Digbeth will showcase new Birmingham music and art across the world.
Inspired by music festivals, the KULTURA Sessions: BRUM will create a must-see online event featuring a Birmingham-inspired gallery in the metaverse.
Commissioned by Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT), the KULTURA Sessions: BRUM premieres for free at 8pm on 11th October, 2022, in a livestream by high-profile Twitch influencers Blue and Queenie. You do not need to be a gamer or to be registered to watch through Twitch.
The KULTURA Sessions: BRUM is a collaborative project between Birmingham Museums Trust, KULTURA and West Midlands artist performers to bring together music, spoken word and art into Occupy White Walls (OWW), the massive multiplayer online video game where people build galleries and curate exhibitions with the help of ground breaking AI (DAISY). The Creative Producer is artist Rosa Francesca.
Thousands of players from all over the world will now experience a Digbeth inspired world, in a loving homage as energetic and creative as Digbeth itself.
Six West Midlands performers will have their music, poetry and art beamed globally in KULTURA Sessions: BRUM – musician Ace Ambrose, moving image artist Exodus Crooks, musician Dorcha, poet Jasmine Gardosi, new media artist Antonio Roberts and mixed-media poet Samiir Saunders (see below for full artist biographies).
A reimagined Digbeth is home to the KULTURA Sessions: BRUM, with a stunning cyber reinterpretation of Gibb Street and the Custard Factory littered with colourful art installations for gamers to visit and explore.
Following its Twitch premiere on 11th October, gamers across the world can then re-visit the music performances and immerse themselves in the Kultura Sessions: Birmingham through the game (OWW), available via download platform Steam.
This is a collaborative project commissioned by BMT in partnership with AI-driven art platform KULTURA and KULTURA Ex Machina, the start-up behind the OWW ‘artiverse’. This collaboration is being funded and supported by The Space, a digital agency that promotes digital engagement across the arts and cultural sector.
The new collaboration will build on BMT’s existing relationship with OWW after Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) became the first official museum to partner with the arts platform during the pandemic lockdown, enabling users to curate their own exhibitions in a virtual BMAG and explore a growing fantasy world of art.
For BMT, partnering with KULTURA/OWW is another way for people to engage with art and performance in the city. It also opens up data and analytics about how the public engages with BMT on a level never seen before in ‘bricks and mortar’ galleries.
Linda Spurdle, Head of Digital at Birmingham Museums, said: “We’re excited to be taking the creativity of Birmingham into the virtual world of Occupy White Walls.
“We’d previously partnered with OWW to add Birmingham art collections and even a version of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to the game, and this project was inspired by the fact that you can now add sound to the game. We thought it would be great to have an event or festival, showcasing Birmingham artists, but what we have is even better than that, as they have created a Digbeth-inspired cityscape within the game for players all over the world to visit.
“We’re pleased to that influencers Blue and Queenie will be livestreaming it on Twitch for everyone to enjoy. This R&D project was funded by The Space, who do so much to help arts organisations to innovate using digital means.”
Rosa Francesca, Creative Producer & Artist, said: “I am very excited to take the creative lead on this project. Since Occupy White Walls introduced their Soundcloud integration which allows players to stream music in their galleries, I have been interested in creating some kind of music event, particularly inspired by the idea of 'virtual music festivals' as well as the concept of album listening parties.
“I specifically reached out to local Birmingham and West Midlands musicians and spoken word artists to include their work in this project. These are artists who I consider to be an important part of Birmingham’s culture, doing innovative and progressive things in the arts and music scene and bringing fresh sounds and varied, cross-genre music. Some of the artists are using this opportunity to release previously unheard recordings which is particularly exciting.
“In creating an event with such a strong focus on music and sound into a game which is already so immersive, we are hoping to inspire conversation about how visual art and music can create a richer sensory experience in MMO games. I am very grateful for Birmingham Museums Trust’s involvement with this project and hope to be part of more collaborations with BMT and Occupy White Walls in the future.”
Fiona Morris, CEO and Creative Director of The Space, said: “The Space is delighted to be supporting Birmingham Museums Trust on the KULTURA Sessions: BRUM . This exciting, immersive digital experience invites users to see and hear, music and art from an exciting range of Birmingham artists. We are sure this will provide a fantastic sense of place and ignite an interest in the city’s culture through digital means.”
Yarden Yaroshevski, founder and CEO of KULTURA Ex Machina, added: “This collaboration is a terrific example of how immersive technology and AI can help promote and discover artists who don’t normally get access to the elitist art world hegemony. Linda at BMAG along with Rosa and The Space are breaking new ground by experimenting with cool new opportunities presented by technology. It was awesome to work with them and we hope to do even cooler stuff in the future.”
Kultura Sessions artists
Ace Ambrose is a genre defying songwriter and DIY artist based in the West Midlands. With a passion for storytelling and a flair for the dramatic influenced by her love of musical theatre, glam rock and nerd culture, Ace brings the concepts and characters of her imagination to life through their soundtracks.
Antonio Roberts is an artist and curator based in Birmingham, working primarily with video, code, and sound. He is critically engaged with the themes surrounding network culture and in his practice explores how technology continues to shape ideas of creation, ownership, and authorship. As a performing visual artist and musician he utilises live coding techniques to demystify technology and reveal its design decisions, limitations, and creative potential.
Exodus Crooks is a British-Jamaican multidisciplinary artist and educator with a practice centring the intangible complexities of the Black diasporic experience; specifically, the storing and telling of stories as familial wealth. Exodus uses monologues to mimic the queer tones and sounds heard within the Black Pentecostal church, which is where they grew up. They are a member of Midlands based cohort, Black Hole Club, and have recently used their residency at The New Art Gallery Walsall, commissions for the Film and Video Umbrella, Vivid Projects and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts as opportunities to experiment with installation, filmmaking and performance.
Dorcha are Brum’s beloved left-field luminaires; a group of artists with a genre bending sound and an aversion to sitting still. The fusing of Dorcha’s own unique experimental pop-noise and the delicious collection of old school synths at infamous Invada studios has born a beast of sound in the shape of the recent album - Honey Badger. To accompany the vinyl release on Box Records, Dorcha embarked on a multi-dimensional collaboration with a host of artists to curate a film version of the album.
Jasmine is a multiple slam champion, beatboxer, Birmingham Poet Laureate finalist and winner of the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry. Her work exploring identity, LGBTQ issues and mental health has appeared on Button Poetry, Sky Arts, PBS in America, at the Tate Modern, Glastonbury Festival, Symphony Hall, and across BBC Radio. Her poetry/beatbox/Celtic dubstep show ‘Dancing To Music You Hate’ explores gender identity was commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre and premiered to standing ovations.
Samiir Saunders is a mixed-media poet based in Birmingham. Their work consists of spoken word poetry, performance art, experimental hip-hop, browser-based artworks, and poetry films. Samiir’s work examines the tension between a desire to communicate authentically and the limitations of digital technology (and of language itself).
Rosa Francesca, Creative Producer
Rosa Francesca is a digital artist from Warwickshire whose work focuses on the themes of the body and accessibility. Rosa often experiments with biofeedback and facial recognition to find innovative ways for people with limited mobility to make music and art. Her work ranges from 3D renders to performance and interactive installations.