FUTURE ART ECOSYSTEMS is the second volume of the annual strategic briefing from Serpentine Arts Technologies team, exploring what it means to do 'digital strategy' at cultural institutions in a post-pandemic world.

Contributions from DR JO TWIST OBE, THE IMMERSIVE KIND, ANDIE NORDGREN, LARRY ACHIAMPONG AND DAVID BLANDY make this report essential reading for the sector.

JOIN US FOR THE LAUNCH EVENT with Victoria Ivanova, Serpentine R&D Strategic Lead, and Kay Watson, Serpentine Head of Arts Technologies          13 July 17:00-18-00 BST
Live on Twitch @serpentineuk

LEGAL LAB REPORT 1: ART+TECH/SCIENCE COLLABORATIONS wil be released on 26 July, looking at legal implications for artists and organisations working in this space.



This summer, two reports from Serpentine outline potential future paths for the cultural sector.

Future Art Ecosystems: Art x Metaverse (FAE2) is the second volume of the Serpentine’s annual strategic briefing providing concepts, references, language, and arguments towards the construction of 21st century cultural infrastructure.

FAE2 focuses on the need to rethink digital strategy in the post-pandemic era if art institutions are to find a place in the evolving ‘metaverse(s)’ and support artists working in this sphere. Published on 6 July as a free PDF and limited edition book, FAE2 is produced in collaboration with Rival Strategy and Luke Caspar Pearson, Guest Producer.

The advent of the metaverse - an always-online, persistent, spatial ‘second’ world most commonly associated with multiplayer online games like Fortnite and Animal Crossing - is driven by video game technologies such as game engines, and a spectrum of enabling technologies including motion capture, AI, immersive hardware and 5G as well as blockchain and the recent explosion of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).  While not a new concept, the metaverse nevertheless represents a fundamental shift in our notion of digital infrastructure and presence, requiring a new set of technological and organisational capabilities from the cultural sector.

FAE2 argues that cultural institutions need to be devising well-informed strategies at a sector-wide level for engaging with the technologies that are shaping current and future spaces for artistic experimentation and social interaction, offering a new framework for defining 'digital' in relation to organisations' individual missions and capabilities. It also describes the models that exist in art adjacent fields (indie games, blockchain, film and architecture) to support artists working with metaverse technologies. 

FAE2 draws on the learnings from Serpentine’s process of ‘digital transformation’ as well as learnings from across the cultural sector; on-going conversations with a broad network of peers across art, gaming, technology and policy, plus dedicated interviews with cutting edge practitioners such as Alex Fleetwood, game designer, creative director and entrepreneur, artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Trevor McFedries (creator of virtual pop star, Lil Miquela), Sam Rolfes, (artist and director of the Lady Gaga music video ‘Sour Candy’) and leading figures from the sector including Dr Jo Twist OBE (CEO, Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) and Gabrielle Jenks (Digital Director, Manchester International Festival). 

As part of Serpentine's commitment to supporting the construction of future art ecosystems, the Serpentine will be releasing Legal Lab Report 1: Art + Tech/Science Collaborations, on 26 July.  This report documents the Lab's findings from survey and interview-based research conducted over 18 months with over 250 artists, curators, technologists, scientists, cultural institutions, galleries, funders, tech companies, legal academics and lawyers.  In collaborations across art and technology, and art and science, there are numerous frictions or ‘pain points’ caused by legal issues which collaborators may face. This report aims to share knowledge, identify opportunities and facilitate change in the way that that resonates with collaborators and empowers them to make better use of legal tools. The production of the report was led by Alana Kushnir, lawyer, curator and founder of Guest Work Agency with Victoria Ivanova, Serpentine’s R&D Strategic Lead in collaboration with legal innovation by design agency Amurabi.

“The global health emergency compels us to reflect on and evaluate existing paradigms of art institutional digital departments. Future Art Ecosystems builds on Serpentine’s support of artist-led experimentation with advanced technologies through artist commissions and research. As we rethink digital strategy for a post-pandemic world, Serpentine is proud to be part of a constellation of organisations committed to building bridges between art, science, technology and policy. This latest edition of FAE explores the metaverse as a rich platform for these intersections and the important innovations that will continue to be born from them.” (Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, and Bettina Korek, Chief Executive, Serpentine.)

The launch of FAE2 and Legal Lab Report 1 will be accompanied by a programme that explores the ideas behind the reports via presentations, training sessions and conversations with artists and organisations already working in these areas. 

Launch Event for Legal Lab Report 1: Art + Tech/Science Collaborations 26 July 2021 11:30-12:30 BST
Live on Twitch @serpentineuk

Join Victoria Ivanova, R&D Strategic Lead, Alana Kushnir, Legal Lab Principal Investigator, and Marie Potel-Saville, founder of Amurabi, for a discussion on the findings and action points.

Serpentine Podcast: Playtesting 16 July 2021

Serpentine x arebyte present: Skills for Future Art Ecosystems Serpentine and arebyte Gallery partner to bring you a series of technical workshops focused on artmaking in the metaverse. Each workshop, led by an artist, will offer participants the opportunity to learn and create live with a group of 20 other participants. 

24 July 2021 | Interaction 101 w/ Daneille Braithwaite-Shirley 18 Aug 2021 | Dynamic Environments in Unity w/ Christopher MacInnes 19 Sept 2021 | Metahuman production with Keiken                       

Artist Ecosystems Live Series | Live on Twitch @serpentineuk 29 July 2021, 6pm BST| Sam Rolfes    13 Sept 2021, 6pm BST | Amelia Winger-Bearskin  27 Sept 2021, 6pm BST | Larry Achiampong and David Blandy 4 Oct 2021, 8pm BST | Robin McNicholas, Marshmallow Laser Feast    

To find out more about the Serpentine’s Arts Technologies pioneering work in this field, read FAE2 and to receive the Legal Lab report on 26 July, sign up to the Serpentine R&D Platform newsletter via

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