Japan/UK: open data, innovation and culture

Our Director, Katy Beale, is going on a week-long trip to Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday 24th May 2014 with the British Council to explore the work happening in the UK and Japan across culture and technology – innovation, design and collaboration.

Japan Skyline

I’m looking forward to meeting with people who work in arts, culture, creative and technology sectors (and the places in between) and we’ll running a salon to talk about what’s happening now in the UK and Japan, hosted at the Krei Open Source Studio.

I’ll be introducing the work Caper has been doing in the UK in culture and technology: Culture Hack‘s push for open data and better technology commissioning in the arts, and Happenstance, a viable model for collaborative working and immersive digital practice, as well as showcasing a range of other UK projects. Through our knowledge of brilliant UK work in this field, I’ll be exploring opportunities for British organisations and individuals to work with their contemporaries in Japan in the near future.

The Arts team in British Council Japan have arranged meetings with an incredibly interesting set of people and organisations including Open Knowledge Foundation Japan, Mori Art Museum, Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting, Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo, Rhizomatiks, co-lab, Policy Bureau – City of Yokohama, Yokohama Community Design LabThe Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM) International University of Japan and Loftwork to name a few.

Do you know anyone in Japan I should meet or invite to the salon? Think open data, artists, creatives, technologists, etc.People doing innovative work individually or in organisations; those blurring the boundaries between tech and culture. For example, Alpha-ville in the UK have been very helpful in pointing me towards their summary of “Japanese masters”: sound artists, musicians, film-makers, designers and performing artists.

+ I’m collating a list of any recommendations for good things to see and do in Japan which is looking like more than I can possibly fit in, but genuinely excited about exploring Tokyo – from Japanese design museums and galleries, keirin bicycle racing at Kawasaki Velodrome, to temples and shrines, fish markets and trying all the sushi and tofu.

Let me know on katy@wearecaper.com if you do. Can’t wait!




Culture Hack East developments

Since the start of 2013 we have been developing a strategic plan for Culture Hack East, in partnership with CoDE and Creative Front at Anglia Ruskin University, as part of our ongoing development of Culture Hack nationally.  We have been working with the arts, creative and technology industries in the East region to explore and define the strategic development of the programme for 2013 and 2014, with support from the Arts CounciLTMitchell_130226_9253As well as strategic development, we have produced a Toolkit (available online later in April) to share our methodology and learnings so far from Culture Hack.  This free resource includes information on the process and ethos of the Culture Hack programme, as well as resources, such as signposting to funding opportunities, and real lift case studies including Hoipolloi and the London Review of Books.  The toolkit includes information on what motivates people to take part and how participating in a Culture Hack event can support legacy projects and long-term organisational change.

Back in February we ran a Culture Hack East Ideas Lab with our regional partners at Anglia Ruskin University.  The aim of the lab was to bring together cultural organisations, technologists, designers and developers to experiment with rapid ideas generation. We had over thirty attendees including The Junction, Wysing Arts Centre, ADeC, CRASSH, Hoipolloi, Cambridgeshire County Council, Tribal Labs and Stride Design.TMitchell_130227_9482Over two days, they created user journeys, developed paper prototypes and pitched ideas. Our panel – made up of Georgia Ward (Arts Council England), Zoe Svendsen (Metis Arts), Rachel Drury (Arts Policy Researcher in Residence, University of Cambridge), and Daniel Jones (Erase) – selected two prototypes to receive development bursaries, taking the ideas beyond paper prototypes to digital prototype stage.

Developed by Specialmoves, Parrabbola, DanceDigital and firstsite, Art Buddies is about creating opportunities for audiences to take risks, facilitating group attendance to artistic exhibitions or performances. They could be novices who have an interest in the art form, or knowledgeable enthusiasts keen to share. The Art Buddies team have tested an early stage prototype with target user groups, and through this they have refined what a successful and engaging experience would look like.TMitchell_130227_9353University of Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Cambridge Cabinet contains nearly 160 artifacts found in the Cambridge area that originate from the Medieval, Roman and Prehistoric periods. Developed by the museum with Atlas Live, the Wall of Cambridge Archaeology iPad App presents the visitor with a representation of the cabinet, maps of the Cambridge area, and the objects themselves. MAA is keen to develop the prototype to a second phase period, involving user testing in the gallery.  Off the back of this initial prototype the group have located additional funding to enable this future development.User-3As soon as the prototypes are available to the public we will share the links with you!

Photos: Tim Mitchell

Team Caper – the new additions

We’re pleased to announce that the team at Caper has rapidly been expanding. Check out our amazing new team.

Sophie SampsonSophie Sampson has taken on the role of Lead Producer, as well as being our project management hub, she’s running our BBC Proms / Technology Strategy Board prototyping project.

Beckie DarlingtonAfter successfully project managing Happenstance for us in 2012, Beckie Darlington is working for us as an in-house Producer on University of Cambridge Museums’ digital audit and Culture Hack East.

Lauren ParkerPreviously Head of Contemporary Programmes at the V&A Museum, Lauren Parker joins us as a Director (Associate), currently leading on strategic work with University of Cambridge Museums and writing a new two year strategy for Culture Hack East.

James JeffriesWe met James Jefferies through the Happenstance project and now, as our Technical Director (Associate), he helps us with developing prototypes and technology scoping for projects and internal infrastructure.

Natalya BuckleyWe worked with Nat Buckley on many Caper projects in 2012, including websites and prototypes for Fuel Theatre & Southbank Centre, BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms, RSC, and Brighton Museum, so we’re very pleased that she’s now part of the team as Creative Technologist (Associate).

Leila Johnston Leila Johnston joins the team as our Writer (Associate). Her most recent article for us featured in The Guardian Culture Professionals Network on the rise of hack culture.


Want to join us? Check out our current available posts.

March 2012

We worked with Fuel Theatre for their Phenomenal People project, as part of the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival. Designed and built by Caper, the Tumblr site shares the incredible stories and achievements from political activists to religious figures, astronauts to opera singers, war reporters to nurses.

The Happenstance residencies have been announced. These are:

James Bridle and Nat Buckley at Lighthouse
Kevin Walker and Linda Sandvik at Spike Island in Bristol
Leila Johnston and James Jefferies at Site Gallery in Sheffield

Funded by the NESTA, Arts Council England and the AHRC Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture, Happenstance is a pilot programme created by Caper which puts creative technologists in deep immersion residencies in arts organisations. Residents will be onsite in the three organisations from mid-April for two five-week â˜sprints’, experimenting, prototyping and making projects, and each pair will present their work at the end of each period in informal Open House events.

From our friends…

Produced by Sync, Culture Hack Scotland 2012 is on April 27-28th in Glasgow. There’s a few tickets still available for both digital designers / developers and also arts and cultural organisations, plus some travel bursaries (for those within Scotland) are still up for grabs.

The Hack Track is a 24 hour hack event is for developers and designers to come and work with the data to make innovative new culture-related projects. The newly formed Culture Track is for cultural professionals and includes a Learn How To Code workshop, talks and performances.

And finally, here’s a few things that have caught our eye:

With over 46 million Tumblr blogs globally – which one do you choose to follow? Try 10 art Tumblrs to follow, as recommended by Flavorwire.

Watch Melvyn Bragg exploring culture as a social change maker in his short series for the BBC.

Y Combinator opening up their application process to people with ‘no idea’, challenging the need for a start-up to be focused around singular product – more that smart ideas can be generated by groups of clever people who are really good at what they do.

A pocket sized drawing CNC machine called Piccolo (via Prote.in):


January 2012

January is Month 8 for Caper.

The period before Christmas was filled with Culture Hack development, including the launch of Culture Hack East, Culture Hack North in Leeds and a Culture Hack taster at the Museum Computer Network conference in Atlanta. We’re now devising the next stage of Culture Hack, which will be back with a new format in 2012.

We’re very pleased to have launched Happenstance, our ACE/NESTA/AHRC funded R&D project, which puts technology at the heart of arts organisations. We’re looking for six bright, creative technologists and producers to fill spaces in three of the UK’s most vibrant arts organisations: Lighthouse, Site Gallery and Spike Island. It’s an amazing opportunity, and we’re thrilled to be working with the Centre for Cultural Policy at the University of Warwick, who will be mapping the impact of the residencies. Applications are open until 30 January, so spread the word.

Katy is developing a digital communications strategy for an inner-London NHS foundation trust, including a key piece of research around reputation management; and managing content distribution of a UK premiere for a major radio broadcaster.

Rachel is acting as an external acting as an external advisor for the BBC/Arts Council England initiative The Space, along with Matt Locke (Storythings), Anthony Lilley (Magic Lantern) and Paul Gerhardt (Archives for Creativity); developing a map-based open-data prototype for Brighton Museum and Art Gallery; and helping our friends at Coney develop a digital strategy.

We have a number of other projects in process:

Forthcoming Women in a Room events, including plotting something that just might change the world of conferences with She Says, Web Heroines and Girls’ Club.

Programming the next round of Makers’ Guild events at the V&A (to be announced soon), with Natasha Carolan and Fiddian Warman.

Developing the next phase of Coding for Kids with Rewired State.

Advising other UK digital programmes, such as Culture Code (delivered by CodeWorks in the North East of England), and developing the international development of our own projects.

We have also, finally, created and launched our website. Finding the time, and the words, to describe what we do has been a challenge, especially as we’ve growing and developing every month since we started Caper at the end of May 2011 – for which thanks to Dean Vipond, who created the Caper logo and brand identity, for design inspiration, and to Rebekah Ford, Emily Webber and Alex Sexton for technical expertise.