Source and organisations website : http://www.bom.org.uk

Karen Newman came to talk to us about The Rise and Rise of Maker Culture. Karen is the director of the creative space in Birmingham and focuses with this on Art, Hacktivism and Open culture. Her aim is to create further possibilities and collaborations coming out of University.

Karen is a curator by trade, she has always loved working with and supporting artists. She started by working in Liverpool in the Open Eye Gallery and Fact. She has curated shows such as Richard Moss’  Infra and Misha Henner’s Precious Commodities. Karen explained to us briefly how the curator sets out an experience for the viewer. Before curating a show, the curator gets to know the artist though studio visits for 2 years.

Karen is particularly interested in politically and socially related work and she showed to us a work by American Pranksters called Yes Man who pretend to be other people. in one of their pieces they did a press release pretending to be a chemical company, the chemical company in question has never taken responsibility for their actions in a situation however the Yes Man did and were believed before people found out they were pranksters.

After leaving Liverpool she moved to Birmingham where she became interested in Maker Spaces. She studied a lot of these kinds of spaces such as the London Hackspace and The Maker Space in Newcastle that even incorporate science. She also looked at Bristol maker space which recently created an interactive sightseeing tool using mobile phones called Hello Lampost. They had also worked closely with artist Nikki Pugh who created laser cut wood pieces which act as anmotronic creatures that you can go into the city with and have a GPS. The creatures are so lifelike that when they are separated by tall buildings they start to twitch and get nervous.

Karen’s latest project is the Birmingham Open  Media, a three month old space which is a maker space. There first project was with the Chaos Computer Club who launched an exhibition on internet and fingerprint security. At the moment this maker space works with 10 fellows who encompass a range of skills from creative technology, to Photography to biological processes and NASA.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the idea of a maker space and how it could be an interesting route to take post graduation. Karen captured our attention throughout our talk and gave us lots of useful websites and information to help us on our way.


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