Digital Factory: Participant to Practitioner

[An opportunity for young artists to develop new skills, create new work, form collaborations, exhibit their work, share skills and meet like-minded people]

The first young person residency in exhibition spaces at Firstsite directly in response to the exhibition programme at Firstsite; placing Circuit and young people’s work at the heart of building.

The Digital Factory residency at Firstsite was a 3 month long project, designed to give young digital artists a platform to generate and exhibit new digital artworks. In response to and inspired by the Andy Warhol: Artist Rooms exhibition that was on display at the same time.  
Through an open call, 4 artists aged 15 – 25 were selected to take part in the residency.

Sian Fann
Benjamin Beauchamp
Susi Disorder

William Fulton

[What does taking part in Circuit / Digital Factory mean to you?]

The Digital Factory was the first major project I was asked to lead on, supporting Assistant Curator Michael Irwin and Circuit Digital Co-Ordinator Liam Roberts (the three of us all being similar ages and at similar career points). Together we picked 4 local young digital artists to respond to the Warhol Exhibition, and offered them a residency space to create work. Frazer Merrick, Digital Factory facilator

Taking part in the Factory meant having the opportunity to show my work in a successful gallery, alongside a really exciting exhibition. It also meant getting to meet new creative people and work closely with them for a good length of time, which is something I have really missed since graduating university. It meant having a platform to share ideas and thoughts and to get feedback and encouragement. Sian Fann, Digital Factory Artist


Throughout the 3 month period, we encouraged the artists to work inside the space but unfortunately this was an unrealistic expectation for most to commit to. However, the most successful element of the project was the skill-sharing that we instilled amongst the participants, using the varied skills of the group to allow them to think bigger than their own individual practices. For example, Sian Fann is now experimenting with Sound Design through my audio workshops and William Fulton is experimenting with performance after being encouraged by Sian herself. The most successful collaboration from the programme was Sian Fann and Susi Disorder, who have since displayed their work at various local shows and exhibitions.

[Have you developed new skills or ways of working?]

The workshops from the residency have been really positive for developing new skills. They really encouraged me to work in new ways, with new media and with new people. Learning about VJing, glitch art and experimental sound have all added to my experience of the residency and aided my practice. 

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I have developed practical and technical skills, especially when installing the work for the exhibition. Susi Disorder, Digital Factory Artist

[Have you produced and developed culture for and with other young people?]

I believe that through interaction with my peers, fellow artists and the Firstsite staff, we have been able to produce art events with which the public have become engaged, particularly through the Float events and additional workshops. Benjamin Beauchamp, Digital Factory Artist

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I don’t know if I have developed ‘culture’ for young people, but I definitely feel that I have explored ideas that are particularly relevant to young people, such as digital identity, the Internet and new media. I have also been engaging in conversations with other young people (some my own age and some much younger!) that have been really enriching and interesting.

Yes, I carried out some artworks as an artist in residence. Within the residency period, artist Sian Fann and I created a collaborative piece joining our practices. Also the resultant work was exhibited at Firststie.

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[What difference has Circuit / Digital Factory made to you?]

The social environment in which we were working was incredibly useful for receiving and giving feedback, on work and sharing ideas with likeminded individuals going about that artistic practices in varied but relatable formats. It also offered the space in which to experiment and test means of displaying work that is particularly difficult with digital art, given the rapid rate at which cost can escalate when using technical equipment to present pieces, negating this problematic area of digital art practice by providing a range of tools for us to use creatively.

The Digital Factory has made me feel more confident in my own future as an artist and has helped me to feel comfortable in calling myself an artist.


[What is the meaning and value of Circuit for you and other young people?]

It is connecting young people across disciplines and institutions, within a professional art institution which supports their development, by giving them space, resources and support.

Circuit provided the environment within which my fellow artists, the Firstsite team, and the public were able to engage in a sustained creative discourse with a range of physical and dialectical outcomes.

I think Circuit is an amazing and invaluable institute for young people. I think it enables so many positive and enriching creative experiences for people who already love the arts and for people who are new to the arts. I really wish there was a Circuit where I live in Chelmsford.

As a result of the Digital Factory Residency, artists invloved were able to take part with a collabortive event at the Cambridge Junction, with young people from Wysing and Kettle’s Yard.

Circuit unlocks digital was a free event at Cambridge Junction celebrating digital art and included GIF and Glitch Art workshops, a Makey Makey Activity, digital artwork displays, and live performances.